I was walking to the University of Sana’a when a pro-Saleh demonstration was materializing. As I walked down Wahda Street, which leads to the university’s east gate, I heard the cries of the amassing crowd. I walked quickly, but throngs of demonstrators passed me on either side, so I ducked into an alley before I was caught in the stampede. When the mob passed, I was shocked to see small children in school uniforms ahead of me, brandishing pro-Saleh signs and weapons. I later learned that kids were released from school early, and if they demonstrated in favor of the Saleh, they were promised passing grades on their exams.
I’ve also seen Tahrir square in Sana’a, where Saleh manufactures his support. When Cairo’s Tahrir Square became the symbolic site for Egypt’s revolution, Saleh took the liberty of occupying Sana’s Tahrir Square, hoping to suppress any symbolism resonating with the Yemeni people. In Yemen’s Tahrir Square, “supporters” of Saleh come to chew free qat and eat free food while sitting lazily in military tents. They are a pathetically docile brand of demonstrators and clearly lack any attachment to the cause sponsoring their qat habit.
Two days ago, two demonstrators were killed and the movement was given martyrs. As of today, I’ve heard that the Northern Houthis have joined the opposition, along with the strong Hashed and Bakil tribes. Saleh’s argument that his absence will invite chaos is looking weak as the country is beginning to unify around what they see as the major problem: Saleh.