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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs