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Tens of thousands of Yemenis have demonstrated in the capital Sanaa, calling on Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for 30 years, to step down.

 

Opposition supporters and youth activists gathered in four parts of the city, including Sanaa University, chanting anti-government slogans. They also called for economic reforms and an end to corruption.

 

Protesters gathered in several locations of the city, chanting that it was "time for change", and referring to the popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month.

 

As a result, Yemeni authorities arrested prominent rights activist, Tawakul Karman, accusing her of organising the anti-government protests. Her arrest sparked further protests in Sanaa.

 

Pro-government demonstrators also took to the streets, though apparently organized by the regime and in much smaller numbers.

 

The anti-government demonstrations were the biggest in the capital for decades.

 

January 27-31, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The demonstrations have been sparked by the Tunisia revolution, and as predicted by Political Capital, Yemen was the most vulnerable in the Arabian Peninsula to witness a Tunisia-style revolution. Anti-regime sentiments in Sanaa have not been, until recently the most serious threat to the regime’s stability. The other three most serious threats were the southern secessionist, Al Houthis and the Al Qaeda (AQAP). The mass demonstrations in Sanaa are now the most serious threat facing the regime.

 

Moves by the ruling party to allow Saleh to remain president for life last month have only contributed to increasing the difficulty the regime faces. It is expected that mass demonstrations will continue in Sanaa and across Yemen, including the south, putting unprecedented pressure on the president for regime change.