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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
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 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 Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid