The Changing Face of the MENA Region (Breaking News)Posted: March 24, 2011
The WSJ reports that Yemeni President Saleh is working out a deal that will let him resign. The country’s leading general will also resign. The details will be released on Saturday.
“Both sides have agreed on the main points of departure, and Saturday is expected to be the day that Saleh and General Ahmar both step down,” according to a senior official familiar with the negotiations.
It couldn’t be determined which individuals were being considered as candidates for any transitional authority as talks continued late Thursday between the two leaders.
The support for mainstream opposition party leaders is unclear across the rugged and largely conservative country. Meanwhile, traditional tribal leaders who have great social standing would face problems exerting authority over rival tribes.
The Pentagon is currently holding a presser and has announced that they’re no longer ‘detecting’ Libyan planes in the air. NATO and the UN are expected to make an announcement shortly that NATO will be taking over the No-fly efforts. I just read some interesting analysis at Juan Cole’s Informed Consent on the Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN’s no-fly zone efforts. Cole says the French have also verified that Gadhafi’s air attacks have stopped and that his planes are grounded. There is also this tidbit.
The participation of the Muslim world in the United Nations no-fly zone over Libya has been underlined. The measure was called for by the Arab League, which has not in fact changed its mind about its desirability. Qatar is expected to be flying missions over Libya by this weekend. Other Arab League countries will give logistical support.
It is significant that the Arab League is supporting this action. The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)–an organization that is an essential part of my research on trade–is also trying to curb problems in Bahrain. This is significant because it shows that region is actively trying to create situations to jointly improve the conditions in the region.
Meanwhile, the people of Syria may be closer to the goals of their mostly peaceful protests. Syria is one of the most repressed countries in the region and has been under martial law for 50 years. Clashes between protesters and the government have increased recently.
President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public pledge to look into granting Syrians greater freedom on Thursday as anger mounted following attacks by security forces on protesters that left at least 37 dead.
Syrian opposition figures said the promises did not meet the aspirations of the people and were similar to those repeated at regular Baath Party conferences, where committees would be formed to study reforms that do not see the light of day.
“The leadership is trying to absorb the rage of the streets. We want to see reform on the ground,” said a protester in the southern city of Deraa.
A hospital official said at least 37 people had been killed in the southern city of Deraa on Wednesday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators inspired by uprisings across the Arab world that have shaken authoritarian leaders.
While an aide said Assad would study a possible end to 48 years of emergency rule, a human rights group said a leading pro-democracy activist, Mazen Darwish, had been arrested.
It’s exciting to watch the move to democracy and modernity in a region known for strongmen dictators, kings, and harsh political oppression. This will be an interesting situation to watch. I only hope that the people get what they are hoping for and that modernity and better treatment of women are part of the equation. Some of the states–like Qatar and the UAE–are further along in this pursuit than others. Yemen and Syria are perhaps the most dangerous parts of the equation. The Shia-Sunni dynamic is present and that always makes for a delicate situation.
Also, SOS Hillary Clinton will be making a statement shortly. We will try to keep you updated and give you interesting links as these new developments unfold.