Security forces and plainclothes gunmen opened fire on crowds of Yemenis marching through a southern city Monday, killing at least 15 and wounding dozens, in an intensifying crackdown against the uprising against the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Witnesses described troops and gunmen, some on nearby rooftops, firing wildly on thousands of protesters who marched past the governor's headquarters in Taiz in the second straight day of violence in the southern city. Some — including elderly people — were trampled and injured as the crowds tried to flee, witnesses said.
Violence has swelled in recent days amid frustration over behind-the-scenes efforts to convince Saleh to step down in the face of a nearly two-month-old uprising. The United States and European countries have been contacting Saleh and his opponents, trying to find a formula for the president to leave his post with a stable transfer of power, an opposition spokesman said.
The New York Times on Monday said Washington had "quietly shifted positions" and "concluded that [Saleh] is unlikely to bring about the required reforms and must be eased out of office."
At least 12 people were killed in the latest skirmishes, and there's no sign that Saleh will be able to impose any kind of political or social changes that will placate the opposition.
I have no doubt that al Qaeda will attempt to exploit and benefit from the ongoing power vacuum and struggle to control the country. The terror group has long used Yemen as a safe haven, and its lawless border regions provide easy access to and from Saudi Arabia and its location astride major shipping channels provides further access.