Accessibility links

Uncertainty In Arab Countries After Protests Dispersed In Algeria, Yemen

  • RFE/RL

A Yemeni man shows the palms of his hands with the words "go out" written on them during a protester in Sanaa on February 13.

A Yemeni man shows the palms of his hands with the words "go out" written on them during a protester in Sanaa on February 13.

Antigovernment protesters have clashed with Yemeni police as they attempted to reach the capital's central square in the third straight day of protests to rock the small Arab state.

At least 1,000 demonstrators, many of them university students, gathered in Sanaa today to demand the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 30-year-rule.

On February 12, thousands staged a similar rally to call on Saleh, to step down, as the dramatic events in Egypt continue to send shock waves throughout the Middle East.

Elsewhere, thousands of demonstrators demanded reforms on the streets of the Algerian capital, Algiers, on February 12, despite an official ban on protests.

They called for the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, before riot police dispersed the crowd under a state of emergency that's been in place for almost two decades.

Still, organizers claimed a victory, saying defiance of the ban marked a turning point.

Last week, Bouteflika said the state of emergency -- imposed since a brutal Islamist insurgency killed an estimated 200,000 people in the 1990s -- would be lifted "in the very near future."

Demonstrators in Paris wave Algerian and Egyptian flags as they call for regime change in Algeria on February 12.

Inspiring Protests

Just as Egypt's protesters took inspiration from Tunisia -- where a popular revolt brought down the regime of President Zine el-Abidine ben Ali last month -- the Egyptian revolution has rocked the Arab world, triggering demonstrations against authoritarian regimes in Algeria and Yemen, and calls for protests in Syria and Morocco.

In Yemen on February 12, protester Ahmed Omar said he hoped the events in Cairo and Tunis were a taste of what's to come.

"What we want is to demand the rights of all people and overthrow the regime, the president must leave just like Hosni Mubarak and the Tunisian president," he said.

Student Abdulrhman Abdulla agreed, saying Yemen's leader had brought "pain" to the population.

"They must go, this is the first and last demand, we want to establish a modern democratic state, which includes all the Yemeni people," he said.

Signs Of Weakness?

Yemen's President Saleh, who rules the Arab world's poorest country, has promised to step down in 2013 and called for opposition groups to join a unity government. It's unclear what effect that will have as unrest continues to spread to other countries.

In Bahrain, activists have called for protests on February 14 against King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who on February 11 announced he would give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each Bahraini family.

In Egypt today, soldiers scuffled with protesters remaining on central Tahrir Square, the focus of the popular uprising, two days after President Mubarak stepped down on February 11 following 18 days of mass protests.

The handful of protesters who remain say they won’t leave until the military announces concrete plans to hand over power to a civilian administration.

The effects of Egypt's uprising are also being felt in Iran, which has compared the revolt to its own 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought a hard-line Islamist regime to power.

But reports from Iran say the government is disrupting mobile-phone communications and slowing Internet speed to undermine protests called for February 14. Satellite television has also been jammed and news from Egypt censored.

And in Tunisia, the country that started the wave of unrest, there's been ongoing turmoil since President ben Ali fled in January. Italy has declared a humanitarian emergency after almost 3,000 Tunisian migrants arrived there, many in small boats, in the last few days.

with agency reports