Yemen's president blamed the United States and Israel for continued unrest in his country, as larger crowds took to the streets and a major cleric joined the opposition with a call for a renewed Caliphate. Unrest is also dragging down Bahrain and Oman, as anti-government protests in North African Arab countries move westward into the Arabian Peninsula.
"There is an operation room in Tel Aviv with the aim of destabilizing the Arab world," Yemeni President Ali Saleh told crowds. "It is all run by the White House." Saleh has been perceived as a friend of the United States and received $300 million last year to train the Yemeni military to fight al-Qaida in the country.
Anti-government protesters rejected the allegations and gathered in increasing numbers, but with various aims. "This is the beginning of a new era and there are promising signs of the start of an Islamic Caliphate here in Yemen," said Abdul Majeed Zindani, the leader of Yemeni Islamist party Islah and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. However, students demonstrating for weeks were concerned about the Islah party hijacking the anti-government protests. "We want the Islah to help us but not to hijack our movement. We did not invite him [Zindani] to come, he just arrived unannounced. Many of us were shocked by the things he said," said Adel as-Surabi, a 29-year-old medical student.
"The people want the fall of the regime," shouted thousands of protesters in Bahrain, during a march segregated by gender along the King Faisal Highway. "Dialogue is only an option once the regime steps down," said Mohammed Habib al-Muqdad, a Shiite cleric recently released by the regime after facing terrorism charges. While the protesters have stronger demands than Shiite opposition parties in the Sunni kingdom, the parties pushed for a constitutional monarchy. The Saudis have reportedly also sent tanks to shore up the Bahraini king, fearing Sunni-Shiite strife and the rise of a pro-Iranian state just off the coast of their major oil supplies.
Protests in Oman sputtered as some local residents grew angry with protesters, as the Omani sultan announced unemployment payments of about $390 a month and nearly daily concessions. Although experts say that there is little chance the demonstrations will unseat the monarch, the first protests in 40 years highlight a growing gap between the king and young people.
Smaller protests continue in Jordan, Iraq, Algeria, and Morocco, but do not present serious threats to those regimes. Saudi Arabian unrest has yet to take the form of serious demonstrations, but is rare and "momentous" in the conservative kingdom.