Tawakkol Karman, a leader of Yemen’s democratic youth movement, writes:
After more than five months of continuous protests, I stand today in Change Square with thousands of young people united by a lofty dream. I have spent days and nights camped out in tents with fellow protesters; I have led demonstrations in the streets facing the threat of mortars, missiles and gunfire; I have struggled to build a movement for democratic change — all while caring for my three young children.
We have reached this historic moment because we chose to march in the streets demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an end to his corrupt and failed regime and the establishment of a modern democratic state. On June 4, our wish for Mr. Saleh’s departure was granted, but our demand for democracy remains unfulfilled.
Following months of peaceful protests that reached every village, neighborhood and street, Yemen is now facing a complete vacuum of authority; we are without a president or parliament. Mr. Saleh may be gone, but authority has not yet been transferred to a transitional presidential council endorsed by the people.
This is because the United States and Saudi Arabia, which have the power to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy in Yemen, have instead used their influence to ensure that members of the old regime remain in power and the status quo is maintained. American counterterrorism agencies and the Saudi government have a firm grip on Yemen at the moment. It is they, not the Yemeni people and their constitutional institutions, that control the country.