The number of the protesters rallying around the country for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh swelled Feb. 25 to more than 100,000, the largest crowd the weeks-long demonstrations have seen. Analysts said this sudden surge in the number of protesters is a result of tribal leaders and opposition groups sending their members to join the students who started the demonstrations in Sanaa University. Ordinary Yemenis who had resisted earlier calls to join the protests in fear of getting arrested are now finding safety in numbers, Time reports, citing observations from experts.
Among key tribal chiefs who have joined calls for Saleh’s resignation is Sheik Hussein al-Ahmar. The prominent tribal leader resigned Feb. 26 from the ruling party. Some experts have raised concern that with his defection, the relatively peaceful anti-government protests could take a violent turn and become tribal conflicts instead, The New York Times reports.