Yemen | Protests Push President Saleh to Announce He Will Not Run for Reelection
- Yemen Main Page
- New Nation Falls into Civil War
- Militants Strike in Yemen
- Regional Violence and the Strengthening of al-Qaeda Make Yemen a Volatile State
- Cease-Fire Tentatively Ends Six-Year War
- Protests Push President Saleh to Announce He Will Not Run for Reelection
- American-born al-Qaeda Leader Killed by U.S. Drone
- Saleh Cedes Power and Is Given Immunity
- Officials Say They Thwarted an al-Qaeda Terrorist Attack
- Houthis Take Over Capital; President Hadi Resigns
- Yemen-Based Al Qaeda Cell Linked to France Attack; High-Ranking Al-Qaeda Leader Reportedly Killed
- The Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Mosque Attacks as Violence Escalates in Yemen
Protests Push President Saleh to Announce He Will Not Run for Reelection
The protests that swept through the Middle East in early 2011 also spread to Yemen in early February, with both anti- and pro-government protesters taking to the streets. Thousands of students rallied in the capital Sana and the city of Taiz and called for the resignation of President Saleh, while another bloc of protesters in Aden, a southern city, used demonstrations to underscore their long-sought quest for independence from the north. The students formed an informal alliance, called the Joint Meeting Parties, with Islamists and other opposition groups.
President Saleh promised that he would not use force against the protesters and said he would not run for reelection in 2013, but the protests continued and he reneged on his promise when, on March 18, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the capital, Sana. Government forces opened fire, killing some 50 protesters. The crackdown fueled the protesters' anger and intensified calls for the Saleh to step down. On March 20, he fired his cabinet and several military leaders and members of the defected to the opposition. March 25 saw the largest protests to date, with pro- and anti-government supporters holding opposing demonstrations in Sana. Saleh said he was willing to step aside if the country would be in "safe hands." However, he defiantly backed off that pledge days later, despite calls by other Arab leaders for him to resign. In late April, representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council presented Saleh and the opposition with a proposal in which Saleh would immediately pass power to his deputy and resign within 30 days. In exchange, he and his family would be granted immunity. The opposition would end the street protests and join a coalition government with Saleh's party. Saleh accepted the offer, but refused on three occasions in May to sign the agreement.
On June 3, Saleh barely survived an attack on the presidential compound. The Ahmar family, opposition leaders whose militia has been fighting Saleh's troops for nearly two weeks, was blamed for the attack. Saleh traveled to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment. Members of Saleh's family and allies assumed control of the government. The fighting continued throughout the country during Saleh's absence, and Islamic militants gained control of several regions, leaving the opposition frustrated and demoralized. In addition, a humanitarian crisis emerged, with skyrocketing food prices and a short supply of electricity and fuel. In August, opposition leaders formed a national council, which the government instantly condemned.
Prime Minister Ali Mujawar, who was also injured in the attack on the presidential compound, returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia in late August. Saleh made a surprise return in late September. He called for a cease-fire and for negotiations to resume, but the fighting continued between government forces and protesters, and soldiers joined the fight alongside with anti-government protesters. In a deal brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in November 2011, Saleh agreed to step down and hand over power his vice president, Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi. In addition, the GCC set out a timetable for elections, the drafting of a new constitution, and the formation of a National Dialogue Conference to implement the plans.