Having spent the last few days figuring out a way around the facebook and twitter blocks in Egypt, I'm back and ready to blog ..... about Yemen.
There was another large protest today, I'm hearing 11 thousand in support of the opposition, which seems like a fair number to me.
Two quick comments.
!. I think what happens in Egypt will strongly impact what happens in Yemen - the problem with Pandora's box is that it never quite closes again.
2. One key marker, at least for me, that Yemen is headed for rough seas will be when we start to see crowds of this size organizing outside of the umbrella of the opposition.
The real problem I see at the moment is what can the Yemeni government and particularly President Salih say or do to appease the widespread anger of the crowds when no one really trusts him to follow through?
President Salih has already made two pledges not to run again and, well, you know what happened.
So what can the government do? Sure it can negotiate with the opposition, but let's not kid ourselves the JMP doesn't come close to representing everyone. Yes, there are socialists, Islamists and Zaydis (sounds like the beginning of jokes Yemen hands like to tell) in the coalitions but all of these groups have stronger, less legitimate groups elsewhere (Southern Movement, AQ, and the Huthis). Plus, despite what my colleagues in political science keep telling me, I have seen no evidence to suggest that party loyalty is a key component of most Yemenis' hierarchy of allegiances.
So, we're still left with the original question: what can Salih do with parliamentary elections coming up?
His head nod towards contrition (a non-apology apology) the other day didn't seem to do much but energize people. I'm not sure what he can do, but it seems to me that now is not the time for politics as usual.