After Egyptians, now Yemenis call for revolution

February 12th, 2011 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Sanaa, Feb 12 (IANS) As tens of thousands of jubilant people in Cairo celebrated the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Yemenis inspired by the Egyptian uprising have begun mustering forces for their own revolution.In the southern port city of Aden, protesters marched through the Mansoura district, waving the old flag of South Arabia and chanting “Revolution, revolution for the south”, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Just hours before that march, security forces had fired live ammunition during a protest on the same street.

Hundreds more staged demonstrations throughout Aden, as well as in other cities across Yemen’s south.

“After Hosni Mubarak, Yemen is going to be next. I know it,” said Zahra Saleh, a prominent secession activist watching the scenes in Cairo on a TV set in a small Aden office.

“Now our revolution has to be stronger,” declared Ali Jarallah, a leader in the southern separatist movement.

The Yemeni southern secessionist movement is not calling for political reforms, an end to corruption, or even for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, as the political opposition is doing in the capital city Sanaa.

They are pushing for the end of what they view is northern Yemeni occupation and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state.

Though both derive momentum from the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, the divergent aims of the Yemeni protesters represent another example of how anti-regime factions across the Arab world are shaping revolutionary energy to serve their own agendas, the Monitor said.

“What happened in Egypt sent a blink of hope to the (southern) movement,” says Tammam Bashraheel, managing editor of Aden’s banned Al Ayyam newspaper.

Exiled southern movement leader and former vice president Ali Salim Al Beidh said that events in the Arab world, and especially what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt, reflect a new stage in history that can be likened to the end of the cold war.

Beidh compared the southern Yemeni demonstrations to Egypt, where youths have played a central role. “The revolution of the south is a revolution of the youth and younger generation,” he said.

In Sanaa, anti-government protests have focused on pressuring the ruling party to accept political reforms. However, in Yemen’s south, the increased number of demonstrations since Tunisia’s uprising have been more violent.

“Demonstrations are allowed to happen in Sanaa without weapons, why do they use weapons on us in the south?” asks secession activist Wagdy Al Shaaby.

He criticized the US for supporting its Arab allies, even when they resort to authoritarian measures in the name of stability.

“America is a democracy, but when it comes to the Arab world, America supports oppressors,” he says. “America protects these countries until they blow up.”

The fractured yet popular southern separatists argue that since unification of north and south Yemen in 1990, and especially after a bloody civil war between the two sides of the country in 1994, there has been a systematic attempt to erase the identity of south Yemen.

They claim that southerners don’t have proper representation in the central government, and that the government takes resources found in southern governorates, namely oil, without investing back in the south’s infrastructure.

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