Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on Friday to reject the US supported GCC deal whilst armed resistance fighters battled regime forces in central Yemen.
It was widely believed that the deal would grant immunity to Saleh and his inner circle and transfer power to his deputy. But as further details of the deal emerged even this was revealed to be a sham. No wonder Saleh was smiling as he signed the deal.
Under its terms he will remain as a nominal President until a successor is elected.
The deal calls for the formation of a unified military council within days to counter the threat the regime faces from armed resistance groups.
It also calls for a ‘national unity government’ (a concept favoured by autocrats everywhere) within two weeks, with elections to be held in February. The new unity government of the ruling GPC and opposition parties will be negotiated in return for immunity for Saleh's family, a concession that has further angered protesters.
But Saleh has proven so manipulative that it is doubtful whether the promised elections will materialise at all, or if so what form they may take. At this stage, nothing would surprise.
Most tellingly the deal outlines a two year ‘transition period’ during which time a new constitution will be written and electoral and political reforms introduced.
This allows plenty of time for the Yemeni ruling class to throw some titbits of superficial reform to the people whilst shoring up the regime.
As Yemeni blogger Noon Arabia notes, “the revolution demanded the fall of the regime, not Saleh only, yet the GCC deal allows the regime to exist but in a different form. ” She says a statement issued by The Civil Coalition of the Youth Revolution sums up the feeling of the majority in Change Squares all across Yemen, that Saleh's deal:
“...provided immunity to the regime, which enabled him to continue killing during the last period and it also will provide the regime's officials a chance of unaccountability and [to go] unpunished, as well as [enabling the regime] to disrupt the desired change.”
We’ve seen in Egypt that constitutional amendments were used to place the military outside of the reach of democracy. However that was also the tipping point that regrouped the Egyptian opposition forces and launched the second revolution. This so-called deal seems to be having a similar mobilising effect.
Several protesters were killed by the regime's forces and many injured the day after the deal was signed and at least one of the defected First Armoured Division's fighters was killed on Friday, as well as one of Saleh's troops.
One journalist notes that the anger of the protesters has forced some of the opposition members who supported the deal to change tack and call for Saleh's prosecution, saying that, “these demonstrators are putting the parties that signed the deal in an awkward position."
This proves that it's vital that mass street mobilisations of all those who oppose Saleh and his allies are kept up, to place maximum pressure on the regime with the hope of breaking it.
Dan is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner. His most recent documentary was The New Scramble For Africa and his documentaries have appeared regularly on the Islam Channel. He is an organiser for Counterfire and a regular contributor to Counterfire site.
More articles from this author
- End Austerity Now protest: how to build a seismic event
- The Extreme Centre: A Warning
- Global Imperialism and the Great Crisis: The Uncertain Future of Capitalism
- #OccupyUAL: only option is to escalate
- London bus driver: why we're striking
- Love against the Law: the People's Bank has its day in court
- Is Russell Brand right, do we need a revolution?