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Two dead as Yemen waits for Saleh speech

Sep 25, 2011, 8:31 a.m.
Anti-government protesters, two with anti-Saleh slogans on their chest, chant slogans during a rally demanding the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Analysts fear that a slide toward anarchy in the unruly Arabian Peninsula state could create opportunities for a wing of al Qaeda based there and endanger oil shipment routes through the Red Sea.

Saleh's arrival in Sanaa came despite the entreaties of Western and Gulf states for the leader to end his 33 years in power. The European Union's Catherine Ashton condemned the violence and called on Saleh to sign the Gulf-brokered power transition plan.

Saleh, 69, has not yet announced his intentions since coming back to Yemen, but said on Saturday he was "carrying the dove of peace and the olive branch."

"It's funny he says he came with the olive branch. He's the enemy of the people," said Abdulqawy Noaman, a professor at Sanaa University who was shot in the leg.

DIVIDED CAPITAL

Popular protests in January inspired by the Arab Spring sparked a revolt against Saleh's rule that was joined by some of the country's tribal leaders and a defected general, Ali Mohsen, one of the most powerful military leaders with a vast number of troops across the country.

Protesters accuse Saleh, his family and the government of widespread corruption and failing to address crippling poverty and lawlessness in a land where one in two owns a gun.

The demonstrators are backed by powerful forces including the elite leaders of the al-Ahmar clan that heads Yemen's large tribal confederation the Hashed.

The support gives them financial backing for food and equipment, but many say it also makes them pawns of powerful elites who once were part of Saleh's government.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon; Writing by Angus McDowall and Amran Abocar; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Robert Woodward)

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