Tunisian wind' sweeps through Arab regimes as protests erupt in Yemen
Published 24/01/2011 | 11:17
Tunisian-style protests erupted in Yemen over the weekend with thousands demanding the downfall of its autocratic president who has joined leaders from Algeria to Jordan in the crosshairs of a regional revolt.
Pressure for regime change in the stagnant Arab dictatorships has shifted across the Middle East and North Africa since Tunisia's Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali fled in the face of demonstrations in Tunis on January 14.
Yemen police on Sunday arrested Tawakel Karman, a female Islamic activist, who had organised the 2,500-strong demonstration in the grounds of the University of Sanaa. A heavy police presence and an active role by the secret police thwarted attempts to move the demonstration to the streets of the capital.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, has been in power, like Mr Ben Ali, for more than two decades. Like his Tunisian counterpart, his government has allowed grievances over lack of jobs and freedom to fester while presiding over corrupt systems.
Tunisian police meanwhile announced on Sunday that two former allies of Mr Ben Ali were placed under house arrest.
The news came as protesters in Tunis turned their focus on the interim administration of Mohammed Ghannouchi, the long serving prime minister who has promised to step down only when elections are held. The government faces another test of wills on Monday when the universities open for the first time as students are threatening to take over the classrooms.
The "Tunisian wind" is also being felt throughout its neighbours.
The Egyptian presidential election in September – when President Hosni Mubarak faces re-election – will this week be a focus of protests.
Even reformist regimes have been forced to respond to demonstrations.
Jordan has suspended civil service cuts and raised salaries for the public sector. Kuwait has made a one off payment of 1,000 dinars (€2,600) to reflect the cost of rising prices.