Witnesses say the first shots were fired by security forces trying to disperse the protesters and they were joined by plain-clothed men who fired on the demonstrators with Kalashnikovs from the roofs of nearby houses....The violent attack on demonstrators, who have been protesting the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, is not the first, but it is the most deadly in recent weeks in this country which fought a bloody civil war in the 1990s. The opposition is a disparate group of Islamists, socialists, Houthi, tribalists, and southern secessionists who seek a return to the days when South Yemen ruled itself. Al Qaeda has pledged support to the opposition, but has not been welcomed by the latter.
"They shot people in the back of the head as they were running away," said Mohammed al-Jamil, an Indian doctor treating the wounded. "Whoever did this wanted these people to die."
Just a week ago, the U.S. gave strong support to a supposed "reform" initiative proposed by Saleh (emphasis added):
“The idea of the president’s downfall is not a real solution to the country’s woes,” U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein said in an interview with the state daily al-Syasiah....The Saleh government's lies about protecting protesters has been met by the truth of many dead. Xinhua is reporting this morning 41 dead, including a child, and more than 200 wounded.
Meanwhile, EU called for all Yemeni political parties to positively respond to the Thursday’s reform initiative of President Saleh, urging them to engage in an open and constructive dialogue....
The government said that while security forces are busy protecting the protests, al-Qaida wing on Friday gunned down four more policemen on a patrol vehicle in southeast province of Hadramout, bringing the death toll of security and army personnel targeted by the terrorist group to 20 since Feb. 11.
US President Barack Obama’s top anti-terror advisor John Brennan on Friday called Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to welcome his pledge to devolve power and urged the opposition to support the plan.
This blood is partly on the hands of U.S. and EU leaders who are propping up a murderous, corrupt dictator -- including by drone assassinations -- while claiming the mantle of justice while attacking another dictator in Libya. The main difference? Libya has a lot of oil, while Yemen is running out of oil.
The cynicism of the Obama administration knows no bounds. Will the American press, which follows the rulers of America like a puppy dog, raise a fuss over this atrocity? Not while U.S. forces are operating in Yemen, and the administration screams about terrorists. While Al Qaeda is present in Yemen, the vast majority of the protesters have legitimate grievances, if not at times at odds with each other, as the opposition is quite fractious.
So while the eyes of the world are on Libya and the Japanese nuclear reactors, U.S. ally Saleh is given the green light to shoot protesters down in the street.
Where is the conscience of this country? Has militarism and fear completely taken hold so that, as I imagine the Pentagon and intelligence community believe at this point, the U.S. Executive Branch can do whatever they want, that there are no real consequences?
Cross-posted from MyFDL/Firedoglake