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

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

update Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid