A political leader clinging to power at all costs and against all odds is a familiar story in the Arab world, but during his 33 years in power Ali Abdullah Saleh was unrivalled in mastering the skill of shifting alliances and turning his opponents against one another. In the words of Yemen’s former president, ruling the country was like “dancing on the heads of snakes,” recounts Yemeni-born journalist Victoria Clark.
Four years ago on February 11, the youth from the city of Taiz in the Yemeni highlands revolted against that style of governing that prioritized keeping a grip on power over addressing the country’s pressing challenges. Abdel Malik al-Houthi, the young leader of the revivalist Zaydi movement Ansarullah (the political group of the Houthis) that took over the capital Sanaa and provoked the resignation of the president and the whole government, had called for demonstrations on Wednesday to mark the date and celebrate the latest revolution. However, Wednesday saw the biggest anti-coup demonstrations so far in Sanaa and Taiz.
Antagonism to Ansarullah’s actions, always supported by coercion, is widespreadManuel Almeida