In the wake of a third straight day of bloody clashes between Yemeni security forces and opposition tribal fighters (pictured above) in the capital, Sanaa, news reports today are all touching on a similar theme: the peaceful anti-government protests that erupted in Yemen on the heels of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings may soon be drowned out by a frightening development: civil war. Wednesday's street battles left at least two dozen people dead and turned Sanaa--once the scene of mass non-violent demonstrations like this one--into a "war zone" filled with the sounds of "exploding mortar shells" and machine gun fire, according to The New York Times.
First, some context: The AP explains that the violence first erupted on Monday--a day after Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh once again backed out of a Gulf-mediated deal for him to transfer power--when Saleh's troops stormed the compound of the Ahmar family, which leads Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation, the Hashid (local residents, however, say the fighting started when Ahmar's guards entered a primary school where they believed Saleh's troops were stockpiling weapons, according to The Guardian). Saleh has accused the Ahmar family of dragging Yemen toward civil war, while the Ahmar family, along with Yemen's official and popular opposition, which the tribe supports, are accusing the Yemeni leader of doing the same to stay in power. How are analysts assessing the situation?