Dec. 2 - Thousands take to the streets of Sanaa both in favor of and against the government as violence continues despite Saleh's pledge to step down. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Crowding the streets of Sanaa. Thousands gather for what they are calling "Independence Friday," as a deal to ease Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power has yet to defuse 10 months of violent unrest. This comes amid reports that five civilians and three soldiers were killed in the hotbed city of Taiz, threatening to unravel a week-old political pact, which saw Saleh sign a deal to step down. Protester Abdullah Satar. SOUNDBITE: Protester Abdullah Satar, saying (Arabic): "What is happening in Taiz is not extraordinary. Every time we make a deal with Ali Abdullah Saleh, the deal is overruled before the ink has even dried. He is a man who has lied for 33 years and the media does not trust the signing, nor the promises he pledges." Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbors and their U.S. ally hope the deal can reverse a drift toward chaos on the doorstep of the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. They also hope to stop al Qaeda's Yemeni branch from gaining a foothold near Red Sea shipping routes. Under the Gulf initiative signed by Saleh, the armed forces will be restructured in Yemen. Many have denounced the immunity from prosecution that Saleh and his relatives would enjoy under the power transfer deal. SOUNDBITE: Amat al Malik, saying (Arabic): "It is now the responsibility of the opposition, in front of religious leaders and history, to take what is happening in Taiz and prove they have good faith, to denounce and leave the government, because this initiative is false and will give rise to more bloodshed." But Saleh also has his supporters. Any Saleh successor will face multiple overlapping conflicts that have gained momentum during the political crisis, including rising separatist sentiment in the south, and fighting with Islamists who have seized territory in the southern province of Abyan. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters