Supporters Celebrate Saleh’s TV Appearance, Dubbing it as “Proof of Life”
Thursday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared on Yemeni state TV in a pre-recorded interview. Saleh has been off the radar since his assassination attempt and attack on the Presidential compound a month ago. In a culture of conspiracy theories, there have been countless rumors of his condition including brain damage, paralysis and even death. Saleh’s evading the media and keeping his condition undisclosed has kept people speculating since. With the proliferation of misinformation and inaccurate reporting from government officials and Saudi officials, it was difficult distinguishing fact from fiction. It allowed us all to witness Yemeni creativity as everyone came up with his or her own conclusions and conjecture.
With President Saleh’s TV debut since the attack, came an end to all the conjecture. His TV appearance was a confirmation of his stable health and proof of life. This was the moment Saleh supporters were waiting for. This sparked a chain of celebrations all across Sana’a and other parts of Yemen as supporters took out their weapons and shot into the air, celebrating the good news. A wave of bullets hit the air as sounds of gunfire signaled fellow supporters to go out and celebrate. A mob of men stood in the middle of Mosbahi Circle by Hada, Sanaa as they watched the sky light up with fireworks, tracer fire bullets and heavy artillery. When asking supporters what they were feeling at that very moment one said, “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. We knew he was alive. We were waiting for him. And now he will be back to put an end to these protests!” This was followed by heavy cheering and with the Republican Guard shooting rounds of ammunition into the air.
It’s difficult distinguishing Saleh supporters from participants of the revolution, however tonight the supporters weren’t hard to miss. Upon hearing the news of Saleh’s TV appearance, shop owners blasted their radios and danced on the streets, residents went on their roofs and fired into the air, women ululated from their windows, and teens jumped in their cars and drove around the city hanging out of the window screaming, “The people want Ali Saleh!”
There have been reports of multiple casualties from returning bullets in Sana’a. The number is sure to rise throughout the night. Last June, a pro-saleh celebration brought death with celebration as arrant gunfire left several people dead and dozens injured. “This wasn’t a celebration. It was a message from the ruling party. It was a threat,” said Mohamed, a youth organizer at Change Square’s Media tent.
Despite the celebrations and excitement, there is no clear sign of concern on whether or not President Saleh is fit for duty. During the pre-recorded interview, signs of Saleh’s extensive injuries were visible. His arms and hands were heavily bandaged and movement was a struggle. His face exhibited signs of severe burns and was covered with white stubble. This however did not discourage his supporters. Despite the long recovery period ahead, supporters insist, “he is back!”