SANA’A, June 26 — An economic crisis has been gripping Yemen for more than a month now. Shortages of fuel, cooking gas and hour-long blackouts have convinced some Yemenis that that revolutionary youth and the anti-government uprising are to blame.Those who have taken no part in demonstrations on either side of the political conflict are now beginning to express their support for now absent President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Their argument is that, regardless of the status of freedom and democracy in the country, before protests swept across Yemen at least the economy was stable and people had access to basic goods.
“They [the protesters] wanted change. This is the change [the economic crises] they called for” said a middle age man talking to the people on a bus.
Buses and public transportation have always been a safe place for Yemenis to share their concerns and exchange their opinions and analysis for both the economic and political situation.
People curse the protesters for seeking change the way Egypt and Tunisia did saying that Yemen is a total different society that empowers the tribal system that is strong enough to fight the state, the call for separation in the south and the fear of Islamists taking control in a power vacuum.
“They [Islah Party] will not allow women to be seen in public even if they are covered up. They will prevent women from going to school or work and they will not allow them to travel without male relatives” said one Sana’a resident to the Yemen Times.
However, protesters say the counter-revolution is what makes the situation ever worse. Some of them blame the Joint Meeting Parties, the opposition coalition parties, and the Hashid tribal confederation that joined the peaceful protests in March and fought the state in May. Other protesters blame the regime and president in Ali Abdullah Saleh’s sons and nephews.
Political analysts say that the regime wants to keep people busy and concerned for their basic needs instead of participating in the political transition. Power has been cut for more than 18 hours a day following two days of normal power in the capital. The power cuts effect all facets of life negatively. The power cuts also effects students during exams. The ministry of education worked hard to make the student get their exams and not wasting an educational year of their lives, the ministry put in mind the difficulties the students face including the power cut and made privileges to the exams this year, most of their lessons were not included in the exams although it were taught to them, all the questions are optional.
“The whole exam was on TV with the answers yesterday as a revision and some of my friends saw it, but I didn’t because of the power cut” said Summer Hussein, a ninth grade student.
Power cuts also drive up prices in other economic sectors, such as water distribution. Water trucks need power and fuel to run pumps. Fuel is transferred to Sana’a every Sunday night then long queues for three days causing crowds in spite Saudi Arabia granting 3,000,000 barrels to help Yemen out of this crisis but the storages in Yemen is not enough to receive the whole amount of fuel now.
“What’s happing now is an attempt to change the revolution from being a revolution for more rights and freedom to a revolution of hunger and revenge” said Ahmed Al-Zurqa, journalist and political analyst, “people are fed up with the situation, all the political parties want to make the revolution sound as a political crises and get their own benefit of it”.
Moreover, international NGOs and youth groups are trying to mobilize people to improve the situation. The emergency “Food Assistance to Conflict-Affected Persons in Northern Yemen” operation is experiencing a total 2011 financial shortfall of US $27.1 million. The “Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Support to Vulnerable Populations in Yemen” operation is experiencing a total 2011 financial shortfall of US $26.5 million. The “Food Assistance for Somali Refugees” operation is experiencing a total 2011 financial shortfall of US $1.2 million. The Yemen country program, “Food for Girls’ Education”, is experiencing a total 2011 financial shortfall of US $10.8 million.