As the bullets, RPGs, artillery and tank shells rain down on Yemen’s steadfast revolutionaries, they can still hear the silent world around them - or watch on their phones. Foreign media has since caught up to the brutality in Taiz and ongoing violence in Sana’a, but these headlines were quickly displaced by Ali Saleh’s usual fraud.
The duplicitous strongman would receive U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein to deliver two messages: he plans to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative as soon as possible, and a ceasefire has been brokered in the urban centers of revolt.
Earlier on Tuesday, a party meeting chaired by Information Minister Hasan al-Lawzi “reaffirmed the Security Council's support for the Presidential decree designed to find a political agreement acceptable to all parties,” once again exposing UN resolution 2014 as a biased proposal. While the cabinet busied itself “reiterating its commitment to carry out the recommendations of the Human Rights Council (HRC),” security forces unleashed their weapons on protesters in Sana’a and Taiz. Islah’s website reported eight civilians deaths in Taiz, including two women and a child, and upwards of 50 wounded. Yasser Nusari, a medic in Taiz's Freedom Square, said five of the dead were youth protesters.
“Streets are now chaotic and forces are everywhere attacking anyone who is against the regime," said Nusari. "At least 38 people were shot by government forces. It's unbelievable how the government is killing its own people."
Security forces first opened fire on Taiz’s center and its neighboring districts around 2 PM. Government units (including the U.S.-trained Republican Guard) armed with RPGs and artillery formed the rear guard for pro-government tribesmen, who have joined the fight in order to preserve their own influence. Sheikh Sagheer bin Aziz, a Bakil leader whose tribe has clashed with the northern Houthi sect, pledged to “fight them [the Hashid and Houthi opposition] until they return to the right path.” Abdu Ganadi, Saleh’s deputy minister of information, similarly blamed Yemen’s political opposition for “supporting militants who are attacking government property in both Taiz and Sanaa.”
"These are militants and are all armed,” he added. “The youth are just a cover-up for the violence the opposition is creating.
Such are the daily accusations and tricks of Saleh’s regime: accept the GCC intiative while slandering its other participant, Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). Residents of Sana’a and Taiz report that no ceasefire has taken effect, only a lull in the fighting. Yemenis have witnessed this nauseating pattern since April, when the GCC was first introduced by Riyadh and Washington. According to the Yemen Post, this “strategy was a tactic by the government to fool the international community and act as if it calls for peace.”
To Yemen’s mass of revolutionaries, the only sound worse than international silence or false condemnation is praise. Rather than make any attempt, however insincere, at condemning Saleh’s brutality, the Obama administration has decided to applaud his recent actions. Asked about Feierstein’s meeting with Saleh, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland responded, “we do consider it a good step both that President Saleh is reaffirming his commitment to the G.C.C. agreement and that he understands and is supportive of the fact that the violence has got to end so that we can set the conditions for discussions about Yemen's diplomatic future.”
This “tough” statement is indicative of the Obama administration's “united and unambiguous” message to Saleh’s regime.
Saleh’s latest lie is no different than any other; his meeting with the unpopular Feierstein is equivalent to a friendly meeting with Gaddafi or al-Assad. Out of this meeting comes another duplicitous promise from Saleh, spun by the Obama administration in order to stall Yemen’s regime change. This development is the latest evidence of ongoing cooperation, contrary to Western misconceptions that the Obama administration is forcing Saleh’s regime out of power. Nuland was actually confronted with the hypocrisy between Libya and Yemen, and the spokeswoman apparently believes that she denied any favoritism.
“I don’t think we’ve been equivocal at all, either from this podium or when the Secretary’s been asked about it. She’s been quite emphatic that the GCC agreement offers the best path forward. We’ve also been supportive of the discussions that have been ongoing even in the absence of the agreement being signed. We’ve been supportive of the GCC’s own efforts to mediate. We spoke about this in New York. So I have to say I reject the premise.”
Nuland was repeatedly pressed - and couldn’t answer - why Saleh chose this moment to renew his intent to sign the GCC initiative. The ignorant spokeswoman is woefully misinformed and out of her league in Yemen’s revolution, as these questions are basic to most Yemenis and earnest observers. Saleh summoned Feierstein to cover up new human rights abuses and lean into the UN’s resolution for protection, a tactic that has flourished (the Obama administration's response is fresh proof). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also been MIA throughout Yemen’s revolution, preferring Libya’s spoils.
Fundamentally, supporting the GCC initiative supports Saleh’s regime. UN resolution 2014 also defines equivocal; the GCC's immunity clause was left open to interpretation in order to conceal the UNSC's violation.
Instead U.S. officials acknowledge Saleh's resistance without opening wondering why he's so “enthusiastic” to sign. In fact his regime is the only party publicly willing to accept the GCC’s initiative, an overt warning sign. The majority of Yemen’s revolutionaries reject the proposal outright, viewing it as hostile foreign intervention. Meanwhile JMP continues to hold firm on its own version, rejecting Saleh’s latest attempt to modify the document. Having been shut down last week, his officials allegedly made another push at delaying Saleh’s resignation until after an election is held.
Oppositional spokesman Mohammed Qahtan told the Awakening Forum on Tuesday, "any talk of an early presidential elections with the survival of the President in his presidency, but is incompatible with the Constitution and undermine the basis of the initiative of the Gulf."
It remains unclear whether the JMP-led transitional council opposes Saleh’s immunity clause in private, or if the group will hold to this demand. The National Council of Revolutionary Forces has rejected the GCC’s immunity clause, leaving the opposition positioned for either scenario. Although public support for the GCC weakens the JMP’s credibility and the cohesion of Yemen’s revolution, bailing on the initiative will fulfill Saleh’s plot to scapegoat the opposition. That’s why introducing an alternative to the GCC would represent real action from the international community.
For now Yemen’s revolutionaries must battle Saleh’s regime and the world’s super powers.