Media Sensation no longer The “Arab Spring” is wonderful and a dream come true. Watching the events unfold in Tunis and Cairo made us all feel part of the revolution. However, by the time Yemen’s turn came, another “Arab Revolution” was not as exciting as the first time it appeared on television. Not only is it not as exciting, but we are also competing with a country that has more action to offer its viewers (Libya). Then after that, another country started competing with us over action, death, and arrests (Syria). Viewers world wide quickly forgot about Yemen.
Lessons learned Protesters in Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt turned to each other for advise. Slogans were borrowed, songs, tactics and ideas. Like his people, Saleh also borrowed from his counterparts. The Yemeni government repeated some of the same tactics used in Egypt and Libya of baltagya or hired thugs, defaming protesters, and inciting the role of al-Qaeda. However, Yemeni government had time to learn from the mistakes of the other leaders. For example, instead of completely shutting down internet, the Yemeni government just slows it down with frequent on-and-off cuts, this way no one is blamed for “censorship”.
Of course, President Saleh watched or was at least informed about air strikes on Libya which most likely mellowed the Qadhafi potential response in Yemen. However, President Saleh also watched Mubarak and his family being tried, which surely made Saleh hold on to power even more, and negotiate for his immunity, which most protesters rightly do not accept. Hence, creating a deadlock. How could he leave when he watched what happened to the others? But how can the people agree for immunity after all that has happened?
It’s taking too long Because we watched the Tunisian and Egyptian example, Yemenis feel that our revolution is taking too long. “Three months compared to 18 days” is a common complaint heard at the square. We need to remind ourselves that peaceful revolutions normally take much longer than 18 days and that the Egyptians and Tunisians are still struggling to this day.
Gandhi’s independence movement lasted 30 years from 1915 – 1947 and the People Power Revolution in the Philippines which ousted President Marcos lasted three years from 1983 to 1986. So lets put things in perspective in order to be happy about what we have accomplished so far.