CONTINUING clashes in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, have left at least 70 dead and hundreds injured. But the sudden upsurge in violence has not brought the stricken, impoverished country at the heel of the Arabian peninsula any closer to ending eight months of tense political stalemate. The scale of the bloodshed, plus persistent unrest elsewhere in the country, is instead amplifying fears that its stalled revolution may slide into all-out civil war.
The protracted stand-off has pitted the ruling party, backed by army units led by clansmen of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, against a motley coalition that includes thousands of youths inspired by revolutions elsewhere in the Arab world, secular opposition parties, Islamist groups and defectors from the national army. Since March, when snipers loyal to Mr Saleh killed 52 unarmed demonstrators in a single day, protests had been confined mainly to limited areas of Sana’a while negotiators sought to coax the president into retirement. Mr Saleh, who seized power in 1978, has so far balked, despite narrowly surviving a bomb in June that left him severely burned and forced him to fly for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, where he remains.