Days of violence in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa have culminated with the death of nearly one hundred people and a fragile ceasefire that has left the country both shaken and in a state of mourning. Much of images leaked from the 'Sanaa Massacre', have been too graphic to broadcast by the mainstream media outlets, to the extent that they have become known as 'the most gruesome pictures' from the Arab uprisings.
Yet in contrast, the Yemeni people have been peacefully protesting for the fall of their long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh for the last 8 months. With foreign commentators often remarking how they continue to be shocked by the level of turnout at these protests. This is important because peaceful is not often a word associated with Yemen, considering that the country has one of the highest weapon to person ratio in the world. However importantly the peaceful protester's calls for democracy have largely fallen on death ears, with Saudi Arabia fearing that Yemen will become the next Somalia, creating a Al Qaeda-friendly regional hub for instability. While the remainder of the international community have been busy wrapped up elsewhere in Libya & Syria leaving Yemen as a messy situation best left to Saudis to deal with. This combination of weak foreign policy on behalf of the United States and the Gulf's inability to succeed with it's political dialogue have collectively forced Yemen into a stalemate, a stalemate which it seems President Saleh is determined to break.
The last four days of violence that have rocketed Yemen into the blood-soaked lime-light were as a result of the actions of the elite Republican Guard who took up positions as snipers throughout the city's rooftops with the intent of causing as much bloodshed as possible, via the use of American-made anti-aircraft weaponry. This inhumane disregard for human life left the makeshift Field Hospital in Sanaa receiving the majority the injured, including that of 10 month old baby who was shot by a stray bullet in the forehead. The makeshift hospital is now full of injured people and empty of medicines, due to the fact that only it and three other hospitals were allowed to cater to the injured protesters under the Presidents orders. More important there have been clear indications that President Saleh was still calling the shots via eldest son; Ahmed Saleh who remains in Sanaa in command of the Republican Guard (Yemen's alternative to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi).
To a large extent Yemen's revolution has been the most ignored of all the 'Arab-Spring states', considering that the world's attention has been focused elsewhere; with Egypt and it's struggling transition to democracy, on the rebel advances against Gaddafi and the al-Assad inflicted horrors in Syria. These pressing Middle Eastern issues have collectively caused Yemen's revolution to stand-alone. Additionally, Yemen has little geo-political importance to the region (other than it's stability) and it lacks the buckets of natural resources that its close neighbours are renowned for. Even when taking all this into account, it remains clear that the Sanaa Massacre was a shockingly easy event to predict.
Saudi Arabia, the dominating state in the region is choosing to back Saleh as their preferred leader of Yemen, there are number of reasons for this including the threat of Al-Qaeda taking hold and the fear of a democratic Yemen on it's southern border. Saudi Arabia's overriding objective in its policy towards Yemen is that of ensuring stability for the region. Yet this policy is contradicts the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Yemeni people when Saudi Arabia blatantly back Saleh. This creates clear impasse between the mighty Saudi state who favours Saleh and the Yemeni protesters who despise Saleh. The problem is that both parties are at loggerheads; Saleh maintains he will return to Yemen & the protesters are refusing to bow down, relentlessly every Friday they show their strength by protest undeterred by any threat of violence Saleh or anyone else has to offer. Either way only one side can prevail, someone must back down, the only question is will it be Saleh & Saudis or the peaceful protesters?
Taking into account the al-Ahmar's influence on the situation, this standstill between the peaceful protesters & President Saleh could go in many directions. The worst being that the deadlock descends into all out civil war With the protester's peaceful calls becoming silenced by the sound of al-Ahmar's Army's weaponry. This almost dead-match between Saleh & al-Ahmar can be likened an old-western cowboy shootout. The recent ceasefire has slightly reduced tensions but is in my opinion only a temporary measure. This pessimistic a approach views the Sanaa Massacre as sign of what's to come and assumes civil war is inevitable.
The other 'peaceful' option is less likely but is nonetheless viable; it requires increased participation from the international community. The West must genuinely take into consideration of the 'aspirations' of protesters and reflect these 'aspirations' in its policy towards Yemen. The West would need to take a serious stake in Yemen's future by committing it's self to a democratic Yemen post-Saleh. In the short the West would need to apply diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia making it clear they are invested in a Yemen post-Saleh.
As it stands the West efforts to remove Saleh have been limited to empty words while they watch over him playing games with the Gulf Initiative. While in the meantime Russia has been flooding Sanaa International Airport with weapons. This combined with media's lack of attention to Yemen means another Sanaa Massacre in Taiz or Aden or elsewhere is a real possibility.
The Sanaa Massacre has shown that the Yemen crisis is unlikely to end peacefully without some form of foreign intervention. Whether that being pressure on Saudi Arabia or full out right sanctions on Saleh is for the western governments to decide. What is for sure that the Sanaa massacre was an inevitable result of Western inaction, Saudi misdirection and Yemeni deadlock.