The New York Times reports:
After more than four months of insurrection, this tormented country may seem to be more divided than ever, with rival rallies still seizing the capital every week and fierce gun battles raging in the north and south.
But the protest sit-ins occupying Yemen’s major cities have brought Yemenis together in remarkable new ways, creating makeshift communities in which the old barriers of tribe, region, clan and gender are crumbling.
In the sprawling tent city outside Sana University, rival tribesmen have forsworn their vendettas to sit, eat and dance together. College students talk to Zaydi rebels from the north and discover they are not, in fact, the devils portrayed in government newspapers. Women who have spent their lives indoors give impassioned speeches to amazed crowds. Four daily newspapers are now published in “Change Square,” as it is called, and about 20 weeklies.
The very length of Yemen’s protests — far longer than the 18 days of Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising — may be helping to forge new bonds and overcome this country’s deep fissures, even if the country’s political elite (and their henchmen) continue to shoot and kill one another in the near term.
“In a sense I’m happy the revolution is taking a long time, because these meetings and arguments are healthy,” said Atiaf al-Wazir, a blogger and activist. “We can’t say everything has changed, but the seeds of change are there.”
The sit-ins are taking place across Yemen, and in some areas elaborate deals have been made to allow tribesmen to join the protest without fear of being ambushed by their rivals. Many people have abandoned their jobs, adding to the economic collapse that now threatens the country.
In Sana, the protest area is virtually its own city, complete with restaurants, medical clinics, auditoriums and gardens. There are numerous art galleries and exhibits, and an endless series of seminars and lectures.
Unlike Tahrir Square in Cairo, the Sana protest area is not a central plaza. It is a dense network of streets running alongside the walls of Sana University — with pre-existing shops, homes and offices — and is therefore more sustainable as a community. Almost every tent has televisions and Internet, with wires and cords snaking over the canvas to the buildings nearby.