Protests that began in January to unseat Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh are expected to continue as Saleh remains resistant to a deal brokered by Persian Gulf leaders that would allow him to step down with immunity. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ibrahim Sharqieh discusses what to expect in the coming days in Yemen.
Los Angeles Times: How will tomorrow be different from past protests in Yemen?
Ibrahim Sharqieh: Tomorrow is going to be particularly important. Today we have seen a new development in the crisis in Yemen, what I call “regulated escalation.” The youth for the first time have announced that they are going to go next to the government offices in Sana and the rest of the country.
L.A. Times: Do you think the protests will be peaceful?
Sharqieh: There is a risk here that once they march toward the government offices in Taiz and Sana and Hudaydah this might develop into a crisis. Security forces might respond by shooting
L.A. Times: The Gulf Cooperation Council has tried to broker an agreement between Saleh and opposition leaders — will they succeed?
Sharqieh: We’re seeing missed chances. So far it doesn’t look like it.
L.A. Times: Why — because Saleh will not accept the deal?
Sharqieh: He backed off. He knows where this will lead, that he will have to face the protesters because they will continue.
One of the things Arabs always ask a new administration is ‘Please avoid doing things on the Arab-Israeli issue — and tell the Israelis not to do things that would create a crisis.' That, which would be a normal thing for Arab governments to do, is magnified by the anti-ISIS imperative.