“Yemen is not like Tunisia,” Interior Minister Motahar Rashad al-Masri insisted today. But who exactly is he trying to convince? Surely it is not the tens of thousands of angry protesters on the streets of the capital today, demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Indeed, while every nation is at least a little different from the others the stark similarities between the various dictatorships across Northern Africa and the Middle East are not lost on the populations of those nations, and the success Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution has netted so far has sparked similar uprisings in Yemen, Morocco and Egypt, with other nations also seeing some early signs of unrest.
Things appear to be moving surprisingly fast, particularly in Yemen, where the first protests on Sunday sparked arrests and even bigger protests, and led President Saleh to promise that he wouldn’t run for an addition term in office, just as Tunisian President Ben Ali did shortly before being chased into exile.
The US gave a luke-warm reaction to the protests against Saleh, who they have been eagerly backing, saying that Yemenis have “the right to express themselves” but stopping far short even of the vague calls for “reform” they made in Egypt.