News / Middle East

After President's Departure, Yemen Braces for Transition of Leadership

Meredith Buel

Yemen’s outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is in Oman and has been given a visa to enter the United States for medical treatment.  President Saleh left Yemen following nearly a year of protests against his rule that left hundreds dead.  

Inspired by protests across the Arab world, demonstrators in Yemen took to the streets to demand the ouster of President Saleh, who has ruled the country with an iron hand for more than three decades.

Mohammed Ahmed is one of those protesters.

“Saleh tore this country into pieces," he said. "He made this country a place for tribal feuds, racism and encouraged distinctions between the people.”

President Saleh agreed to transfer power only after parliament passed a controversial law granting him immunity from prosecution.

In what was described as a farewell address, Mr. Saleh was contrite.  

“If shortcomings occurred during my 33-year term, then I ask for forgiveness and I apologize to all the citizens of Yemen," said Saleh.

Last June, a bomb attack on Mr. Saleh’s presidential compound left him severely wounded.  He spent several months recuperating in Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni president is expected to seek additional medical care in the United States, where officials have stressed his stay will not be permanent.

White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated the U.S. position.

“The purpose of this travel is for medical treatment alone," said Carney. "And we expect that he will stay for a limited time that corresponds to the duration of this treatment.”

Yemen is a major security concern for the United States because it has been a haven for Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida.

Parts of the country are plagued by kidnappings, banditry and violent tribal feuds that appear beyond the control of the central government.

Marina Ottaway is a Middle East expert with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment.

“I think our goals in Yemen are very narrow and it is to thwart al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and maintain enough stability so people don’t get killed day, after day, after day," she said.

Protesters are demanding the removal of Mr. Saleh’s family members from positions of power out of concern he will still be able to control key components of the country.

Ginny Hill directs the Yemen Forum at British-based research institution Chatham House:

“The question will be to what extent the president’s son and his nephews and his other relatives are able to retain control over military units, over business interests and over political power," said Hill.

President Saleh has vowed to return to Yemen and analysts such as the Carnegie Endowment 's Marina Ottoway say he could make a political comeback.

“You don’t stay in power that long in that part of the world if you are not a very astute politician with plenty of contacts, with a large network and Saleh has all that," she said. "So the possibility of a comeback can never be completely ruled out.”

A presidential election is scheduled for February 21, but it is not clear if that will end the political crisis and the chaos that have rocked Yemen over the past year.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid