Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Yemeni public, and its diverse reactions to recent events

There is an array of reactions to the recent events in Yemen. While it is difficult to generalize how people feel, this is an attempt to demonstrate (briefly) the various reactions by ordinary Yemenis.

We’re just confused: the majority of people are simply confused. With rumors flying around, and facts very difficult to verify, confusion looms and anxiety escalates. President Hadi added to that confusion by calling the events a “conspiracy” only after he signed the U.N. brokered peace deal.

What the.... just happened?: they were shocked at how fast the situation changed in a couple of days.  They do not know what to expect and believe that time will tell. They are generally happy that some iconic elite who are said to block the transition process are out of power, and are content with the reconciliatory language in the national agreement, and in Abdulmalik Al-Houthi's most recent speech . Yet, they remain skeptical and hope that these words carry real intent and are not merely ink on paper. They fear that while the Houthis have legitimate grievances and were oppressed, some of their recent actions are worrisome and questions their peaceful rhetoric.

Yay: those who are very happy about the recent events, they feel that the Houthis revived hope in a “hijacked revolution” and gave them a sense of pride in a movement that has challenged the grip of the elite, and controversial GCC initiative. They are also happy that after being neglected by all major political power groups, the Houthis have imposed their demands for basic rights and inclusion on the political establishment.

They are the devil: those who believe that the Houthis are merely “Iranian agents” dominated by foreign agenda. They believe that the Houthis never had any grievances and that the Saleh regime was right to start the war in 2004.

Don’t violate our Rights!: this group fears that Sanaa may now be run by a radical religiously conservative armed group that bans personal freedoms, most notably related to freedom of expression, art and women’s rights. They also want the Houthis’ armed militia to retreat from the capital as soon as possible. They feel depressed thinking that all groups in power have so far continued the same practices. This feeling was exacerbated by the closure of Suheil channel and storming of homes of some notable Islah leaders.

As long as we live..: this group is mostly apolitical, and their focus is on access to basic services. If Houthis can guarantee that, this group would surely support them.  The increase in electricity, and the general perception that Houthis will protect the area has increased their support for the group.

Civil war is coming: many people are simply afraid of a potential civil war. For example, those in Sanaa who recently witnessed dead bodies rotting in the streets, slept through nights of loud and ongoing explosions, and had their daily life briefly came to a halt are terrified. They fear the unknown and the potential of a civil war, due to potential increase of retlation by AQAP, especially since the Houthis vowed to fight them.

Bye bye Ali Mohsin!: Some, such as many in the South, are simply ecstatic that General Ali Mohsin, known for his bloody and corrupt past, is forced out of power. Everything else seems irrelevant to them.

Saleh's plot: this group is worried that former President Saleh is behind the Houthi’s rise to power, and that Yemen would go back to square one.



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