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Maher Arar

Maher Arar

Posted: January 24, 2011 09:13 AM

As I have mentioned in my Globe and Mail op-ed it does not seem that Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, has learned any lesson from the Tunisian uprising.

U.S. foreign policy in Yemen has been mainly guided by the anti-terrorism campaign against Al-Qaeda. The situation in Yemen resembles that of Tunisia to a certain degree. Ali Abdullah Saleh, its dictator, has been in power since 1978. It is also widely known that his immediate family members have benefited financially at the expense of extreme poverty and misery for the average citizen. Over 45% of Yemenis live on less than $2 a day.

While Yemenis are less educated than Tunisians the fact that most of them have access to arms, and the fact that tribal traditions are still very strong, makes the situation in Yemen a lot more dangerous. If the regime continues to ignore the will of its people who are calling for regime change then the situation can easily deteriorate into a civil war, the outcome of which is uncertain.

Led by Tawakel Karman, a female political activist, people in Yemen have taken to the streets in recent days calling for the departure of President Ali. The response from the anti-riot police was rather violent. Ms. Karman was later arrested and charged with inciting "the unrest".

The U.S. can make a huge difference in this Arabian Peninsula country by listening to the will of the people, by abstaining from directly or indirectly supporting this repressive regime and by helping Yemenis bring about true democracy to their country.

The following 60 Minutes program gives a good overview of the situation in Yemen: