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Anti-Houthi protests: For or Against?

Feb. 11 marked the four year anniversary of the beginning of Yemen's 2011 uprising. Since that day, two presidents have stepped down. Cabinet has been reshuffled, dissolved then reformed and--like Parliament--no longer exists. A rebel group took over the capital on Sept. 21, 2014, and has since expanded its control over much of the north of the country. While the Houthis extended their reach--often at the barrel of a gun--agreements were signed and discussions were held between rival factions, facilitated by the UN.

To mark the fourth anniversary, independent youth took to the streets in protest again. Not to protest Ali Abdullah Saleh like they did in 2011, but to demonstrate against the Houthis--who they stood shoulder to shoulder with four years ago. Houthi supporters also showed up, claiming they are finishing off the revolution. While talks between political groups take place in a 5-star hotel and rival factions jostle in the streets, what do ordinary Sana'anis think of it all? The Yemen Times asked locals who were not attending the protests whether they are supportive of them or not.

Abdullah Al-Samei, 22 years old, journalist

Protests are one of the ways for us to express our opinions. Preventing protests oppresses freedom, and this is not acceptable at all. Our revolution in 2011 created a good environment for freedom, and we were surprised that our partners in the 2011 revolution [referring to the Houthis] tried to prevent protests. This act is not in accordance with the revolution and its goals.

Ahmed Al-Silwi, 25 years old, pharmacist

I prefer dialogue more than protests because the political leaders control the protests, and if they want to find a solution they can do it through dialogue. I'm not supportive of violently cracking down on the demonstrations, but I'm supportive of stopping the demonstrations in order to calm down the situation.

Hanan Shamhan, 4th year student in the Media College at Sana'a University

I'm against protests, because these protests lead to grudges and conflicts among people, and it is not the only way to express our opinions. We can express our opinions by other means, such as by using dialogue. I'm not against the Houthis. They are our brothers regardless of their opinions, because every group has its own ideologies and we can not say that everything they do is right or wrong, so I'm against protests.

Al-Izi Mahdi Qasem, 42 years old, accountant

I'm against protests under any umbrella group and for any reason because they disobey the guardian [leader of the country] and this is forbidden in Islamic law. When there is a political problem, the wise people who can exert influence on the decision makers should have a talk with the decision makers, but should not go to the streets, because these protesters can not create solutions. I've been against the protesters since 2011 and I did not participate in any protests because I did not believe in them. The protests did not solve problems, rather they created new ones.

Ali Faidhi, 35 years old, sound engineer

I'm not supportive of the protests at all. I prefer that all people care about their work and forget protests. When the political environment starts to calm down, new crises are created by new protests. While I think that these protests came after political dispute, we [Sana'anis] have not seen that these protests make solutions to any problems. I prefer to keep myself away from protests, and I advise others to do the same.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Date:Feb 11, 2015
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