MELISSA BLOCK, host: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Yemen has been in a state of near anarchy for much of the past six months. Youthful opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have held huge protests, and there have been frequent armed clashes involving tribesmen, Islamist militants, government troops and defectors from government forces.

NPR's Kelly McEvers is in the capital Sanaa, and she sent this story on the state of what some call the revolution.

KELLY MCEVERS: It's been six months since protesters took over this part of town, calling for the downfall of President Saleh. They call it Change Square, says my guide, Mohammad(ph). But to me, it looks more like Change Mile. As far as the eye can see, looking down this street are tents.


MCEVERS: So the entire street where cars would normally be, tents...


MCEVERS: ...tents, tents, tents, tents everywhere. Tents made of canvas and tarp, and held down with cinderblocks tied to rope. Tents filled with carpets and mattresses and sleeping boys or boys reading the Quran, tents that are not going anywhere anytime soon. It's a garden. Somebody planted a garden outside their tent.

MOHAMMAD: Yes. It proves that they will stay as long as they can.


MCEVERS: Ever since security forces fired live ammunition on protesters in March, killing more than 50 people, protesters have vowed not to leave Change Square until Saleh steps down. A big, huge sign that says get out. The focal point of Change Square is an intersection where posters of those killed or jailed hang from light poles. People take turns making speeches on a big stage. The protesters have also vowed to remain peaceful, but in May, things took another violent turn.

So we're getting in a taxi, and it looks like it's been through hell. The back window has been blown out. It's made of plastic and tape. The front windshield has a big bullet hole in the upper right-hand corner. The entire windshield has been shattered. It's kind of hard to see through it. The taxi was shot up in a neighborhood north of Change Square. A tribe that sympathized with the protesters began fighting against troops loyal to President Saleh. The driver takes us to the neighborhood to show us how bad the fighting really was.

This wall is pocked with probably a thousand bullet holes, and then, clearly, the shooting went across the street, to the other side. I mean, there's - even the curb on the street has been shot up to pieces. The battle lasted for weeks. It ended when Saleh himself was injured by an explosion in his palace mosque in early June. He's now said to be recovering in Saudi Arabia. Since then, Yemen has been in a kind of limbo. Saleh's relatives still control some of the government and some of the army. But much of the army has defected to the other side. These days, another tribe, just outside the capital, has been fighting against Saleh's troops. People say it won't be long before the war reaches the city again.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: For now, though, life goes on. At this busy mobile phone shop, a salesman named Zaid says six months of protesting might actually pay off.

ZAID: I think we have to be optimistic.

MCEVERS: The government is dying, he says, like a tree that's slowly being deprived of its water, but the people, he says, the people are alive. Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Sanaa.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from