SANA’A, Mar. 16 — More coalitions have announced their solidarity with the pro-democracy, anti-government demonstrations currently unfolding on Change Square in Sana’a. For example, some high-ranking soldiers joined the protests on Monday and gave a public speech about corruption within President Saleh’s regime. The soldiers promised to announce a new coalition soon for soldiers who wish to resign from the military and join the protests.The media centre of the pro-democracy movement told the Yemen Times that they suspect the soldiers of having been sent by national security, so as to sabotage the revolution from within.
“They came to us expressing the desire to be officially known as a new revolutionary coalition. They said that they would soon have a tent, and that they would be electing a director and a deputy for their group,” said one media officer.
“We can quite easily tell that it’s a state trick. After a while, they may withdraw from the protests and tell the media that the revolution is not strong enough to succeed. This would weaken our side,” he added.
Many groups are now organized as coalitions on Change Square. At one point in the demonstration’s development, the youth began to suffer from excessive JMP control. Islah, Yemen’s main Islamist party, was particularly influential, as it controlled the main stage outside of Sana’a University. In order to fend off this encroachment, the youth who started the Sana’a protests in mid-January decided to found the first Change Square coalition.
Signs of coordination are now starting to appear on the Square. The Youth for Peaceful Change is one of the demonstration’s various coalitions and it is a umbrella organization for eight other movements. This coalition currently seems to enjoy the strongest position in the Square.
“The president addresses the Joint Meeting Parties and the Joint Meeting Parties address the president. Where are the youth in all of this? If the Joint Meeting Parties decided to boycott the protest, we as youth would stay for sure. But we wouldn’t be big enough and this is why we need to become a single entity,” explained Amen Dabwan, the leader of one group called the Yemen Free Youth Coalition (YFYC), which was founded in reaction to the growing influence of the JMP on Change Square.
It was the YFYC that devised three of the revolution’s main plans: how to topple the current regime, how to preserve the gains of the revolution and what happens after the disappearance of the regime.
The YFYC’s chief motto is “Peaceful and Not Partisan” and it consists of five independent youth movements. “When we first announced our coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties were angry with us. They asked, ‘Why do you aim to isolate us?’ We don’t isolate anyone. We just make sure that the parties don’t isolate us and that we don’t isolate them as well,” said Dabwan.
Even Tawakkol Karman, the female activist who is widely seen as one of the revolution’s most important leaders, recently announced her own coalition, called the Youth Student Coalition.
Some of the tribes are also organizing into coalitions and unions. The General Union for Revolutionary Yemeni Youth is one major tribal entity that includes approximately 1,000 members. “We still don’t have any kind of coordination with the main political parties, but we are working on that. One of our major questions is: what comes next? After the regime withdraws, we aim to have some power as well,” explained Majid Al-Awaj, one of the coalitions’ leading members.
The Media Association for the Revolution’s Youth is yet another group made up of the first young people to start protesting in favor of Tunisia’s freedom. Zakaria Al-Sadda, a member of the association, said that at one point, the young were become “marginalized”. “Now we have become a group of reporters, whose mission is to report objectively. We still don’t have a representative at this stage, but we carry out most of our duties online and we distribute newsletters by hand,” said Al-Sadda. This was, the association ensures that it won’t be marginalized again.