The Yemeni central government is feeling the "winds from Tunisia" as 20,000 people gathered for a local 'Day of Rage' in the capital, Sana'a. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's offer to not seek reelection in 2013 ns after more than 30 years of rule was rejected by Yemen's opposition. Areas of the country outside government control continue to simmer.
"Today will bring more, fresh pressure on President Saleh, who will have to present further concessions to the opposition," said Wael Mansour, a protest organizer, outside of Sana'a University in the nation's capital. Demonstrators chanted "The people want regime change" and "No to corruption, no to dictatorship."
Government opposition leaders refused to meet with Saleh and promised more rallies until they receive his proposal through "official circles." The government cracked down on rallies in the southern city of Aden, which demonstrators calling for southern independence would make the new nation's capital.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also increased pressure on the government and fractured society by declaring war on the nation's Shiite minority. "Jihad against northern Shiites has been declared since the implementation of the AQAP's twin martyred car bombing attacks against convoys of Shiite rebels' in the northern provinces of Jawf and Sa'ada on Nov. 24 and Nov. 26 of the last year," said Saeed Ali Al-Shihri, deputy leader of AQAP, in a recent video.
AQAP also executed a top Yemeni intelligence official on Monday and has successfully beaten back government attempts to reign in its influence. "Deputy Director of the Yemeni Political Security Service, Colonel Ali Mohammed Salah al-Husam, was executed, with bullets fired at the back of his head, after he admitted that he had spied on Mujahedeen in the previous years," AQAP officials said in a recent video release. "The execution of this officer is also a message to those intelligence officers who still work for Sana'a government and the U.S. intelligence agencies." In September, AQAP gave the government a 48-hour ultimatum to exchange hostages for al-Husam,
Cables released by Wikileaks last week reveal American unease about relying on Saleh, but a lack of other options. "Saleh appears to be muddling through a challenging situation, but there is concern that he is relying on a shrinking leadership circle consisting of family, the military, and some tribal elements," said a 2003 cable. However, the document said, "The United States sees no real alternative to supporting Saleh. The U.S. is nevertheless determined to send a very clear message on its future expectations while assistance will be conditionally based."