Saturday, February 26, 2011

Observations from Yemen

Rasha sent me this from Yemen (I cite with her permission):  "I went today to both demonstration camps in Sana'a: Pro and anti-regime. Here are a few observations that you may post. This is what I saw and observed.
1. Pro-regime protesters went out straight after Friday prayer (around 13:00). By the time I was on Tahrir square where they are camped and where they gather every Friday (at 14:00), they were dispersed to get Qat (heard it from their shouts to each other) or lunch leaving a few hundred behind. 
On the other hand, I got to the anti-regime camp near Sana'a University at around 14:30 and I would estimate about 5,000 people there or so. Still there and, more or less, in one zone.
2. Anti-regime camp is organized (obviously learning from the Egyptian Tahrir camp) with a medical committee and supplies in a tent, a communications committee, a fundraising committee and a security committee checking people and purses. Pro-regime camp, although has obviously larger and posher rented tents (paid for clearly) does not have a medical team of volunteers and no other "committees" are obvious.
3. You fine NO women in pro-regime camp; on the other hand, anti-regime camp has a couple of tents for women only and I've spotted some women leaving their tents.
4. As mentioned above, it is obvious that the pro-regime tents and supplies are coming from shops that organize wedding events and hence supply big tents, who's rent I was told by Yemenis, can be as expensive as renting an actual wedding hall ($200 - $1000). Anti-regime tents were simpler, smaller ($10-$12) ones that can be found in supermarkets and are also sold off the streets. I've personally bought one last year off Tahrir street (!)
I thought these were significant differences, especially with regards to female participation and presence. However, momentum is yet to get to Sana'a at least from the mighty city of Taiz, which is obviously on one side and not the other."