In Yemen, Pressure From Protesters Builds
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From Syria to Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia, protestors filled the streets today. Demonstrations in Syria spread from the city of Dara to other parts of the country.
BLOCK: And again today in Dara, protestors were shot and killed by security forces. In the capital, Damascus, protestors clashed with government supporters. There were similar clashes in Jordan.
SIEGEL: In Bahrain, security forces used tear gas to suppress protests and in Saudi Arabia, hundreds of Shiites called for political reform and marched in support of the protestors in Bahrain. We'll hear more from Saudi Arabia in a few minutes.
BLOCK: First, though, to Yemen. After weeks of protests and a bloodbath last Friday, in which 52 protestors were killed, today, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he is prepared to give up power.
ALI ABDULLAH SALEH: But only to good capable hands, the hands to be elected by the people.
BLOCK: That English interpretation from Al-Jazeera English. Sudarsan Raghavan of The Washington Post joins us from the capital, Sanaa. And Sudarsan, President Saleh's been in power for 32 years. When he says he's ready to turn the country over to capable hands, do you take him at his word?
SUDARSAN RAGHAVAN: So we're seeing something very similar here, many feel. And it really is still a major question mark whether President Saleh is prepared to step down.
BLOCK: And what is the scene at the protest? The main protest is right outside Sunaa University and protestors were calling this a day of departure, referring to President Saleh. What's going on?
RAGHAVAN: They've erected tents on all the streets nearby covering every inch. You're seeing quite a number of tribesmen who have come from all around the country and they actually appear to be outnumbering the youth protestors now.
BLOCK: Sudarsan, you've been writing in The Washington Post about a particular concern that the unrest in Yemen can lead to a special instability, in terms of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is very active in Yemen.
RAGHAVAN: If Saleh were to step down, who is going to replace him and would that person be a key ally in the war against terrorism as Saleh is to Washington?
BLOCK: Sudarsan Raghavan of The Washington Post, speaking with me from the capital of Yemen, Sanaa. Sudarsan, thanks very much.
RAGHAVAN: My pleasure.
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