On Saturday, we wrote about how Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh had agreed to step down within 30 days after 32 years in power as part of a deal brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Saleh is expected to sign the deal in Saudi Arabia on Monday, three months after Yemen's pro-democracy uprising erupted. But that whole plan is looking increasingly wobbly as we head into the weekend. Here are the three reasons why:
Saleh's Use of Violence: After Yemeni security forces killed 12 people and injured many more in the capital of Sanaa on Wednesday, an opposition bloc informed Saleh that, "in the event of your inability to protect protesters, we will find ourselves unable to pursue an agreement that the regime seeks to use to shed more blood." The ultimatum made Saleh's response to the mass protests planned for today critical, and so far the signs aren't good. The AP is reporting that Yemeni police have opened fire on demonstrators in the western port city of Hodeida. In the photo above, anti-government protesters perform Friday prayers in the southern city of Taiz.
Saleh's Conspiracy Theories: In an interview with a Russian television station on Thursday, Saleh threatened to pull out of the GCC deal if Qatar, a GCC member, took part in the ceremony. "The state of Qatar is funding chaos in Yemen and in Egypt and Syria and throughout the Arab world, " he said, pointing a finger in particular st the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel.
Splits Within Opposition: The opposition to Saleh is anything but monolothic. There's Yemen's official opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, which consists of Yemen's Islamist party, Islah, and the Yemeni Socialist Party. And then there is a more popular, youthful movement headquartered at Sanaa University. While the JMP says it will sign the GCC deal so long as Saleh halts his violence against protesters, many of the protesters themselves are demanding that Saleh resign immediately and not be granted immunity from prosecution, as the GCC plan lays out. Hundreds of thousands of these protesters are taking to Yemen's streets today to make their demands heard, according to Bloomberg.