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Yemeni security forces stormed and confiscated broadcasting equipment belonging to the Arab World’s leading broadcasters, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Both channels are the prime source of news for Yemenis, including coverage about the raging riots in the south. The past week has seen a further escalation in the south with mass demonstrations held across the south, demanding secession.

 

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya showed rare footage showing thousands of demonstrators carrying the flags of the former South Yemen and of their former exiled president, Ali Salem Al Bedh, who is leading the calls for secession.

 

Opposition parties have fiercely condemned the government’s move.

 

March 12, 2010

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk

 

The attack against Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya reflects the degree of desperation the government in Yemen is resorting to. The situation in the south is on the brink of collapse and the closure of both channels indicates that the government’s perception of how the events in the south are moving is not in its favour, as it tries to silence coverage of the events there. The government is taking strong proactive steps to suppress both separatists and also general opposition, whose only media platforms are Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

 

The closure of both channels has also attracted strong criticism from the opposition, Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). This in itself has already increased tensions between the government and opposition. The action by the government therefore not only reflects the seriousness of the situation as seen by the government, but will also likely lead to further unrest as the opposition’s only media outlets are shut, and the regime moves further towards suppressing dissent.