News / Middle East

Yemen's Wounded President Saleh in Saudi Arabia

Yemeni army soldiers lifted by anti-government protestors, chants slogans and wave their national flag as they celebrate President Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia, in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, June 5, 2011
Yemeni army soldiers lifted by anti-government protestors, chants slogans and wave their national flag as they celebrate President Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia, in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, June 5, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in Saudi Arabia for treatment of injuries sustained in a rocket attack Friday, raising further uncertainty in his country, where many are seeking his ouster.

Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Sana'a to celebrate President Saleh's departure. While many in the crowd decried the violence that culminated in the attack on Saleh's compound Friday, some, like this man, felt the country would be better with him gone.

Referring to the recent killing of protesters in the southern city of Taiz, the man, who did not give his name, called Saleh a murderer who has received his punishment.

A Timeline of Unrest in Yemen

January 22: Hundreds of students and other protesters gather at Sana'a University, calling for an end to the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
March 1: Tens of thousands of opposition activists demand the ouster of Mr. Saleh. President Saleh fires five of 22 provincial governors, some for criticizing the crackdown on the protests.
March 20-21: President Saleh dismisses his entire Cabinet. Some senior military commanders join the protesters.
April 5-8: President Saleh accepts an invitation from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to hold talks in Saudi Arabia with opposition representatives.
April 21-25: The GCC presents President Saleh with a plan for ending the political impasse and unrest. The plan calls for him to resign within a month and for a presidential election two months later.
May 21-22: Yemen's opposition said it signed a Gulf-brokered deal.  Mr. Saleh denounces the proposed deal as a "coup."
June 3: President Saleh and five other Yemeni officials are wounded in a rocket attack on the presidential compound in Sana'a.
June 4: President Saleh's forces and forces loyal to tribal leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar accept a Saudi-brokered cease-fire. Mr. Saleh flies to Saudi Arabia for treatment. Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur Hadi takes over.

How long the president will be out of the country is uncertain. His injuries appear to be more serious than the "scratches" officials described in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Deputy Information Minister Abdou al-Janadi said the president had assigned Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur Hadi as acting president.

Janadi said the vice president was in continuous communication with Saleh, who he now described as having suffered burns. The official added that the president would be returning to Sana'a and resume his duties as soon as he is recovered.

But even if Saleh's physical condition improves, Saudi Arabia, which has led a regionally-mediated effort to have him leave power, could try to encourage him to not return home, as it is far from clear what his reception in Yemen would be.

The chairman of the Gulf Research Center, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Sager, believes that while the Yemeni president would never have wished for the attack that killed at least seven other people, it does provide him with a certain political cover.

"I think he could not have been luckier than that to have a face-saving device by leaving the country for a good medical cause, and not for another reason that would, in his own way of thinking, make him ashamed in front of his tribe and his people," he said.

In the interim, Sager thinks Vice President Hadi will be able to provide some short-term stability.

"We are starting to see the vice president in Yemen quickly acting in putting the scene together," said Sager. "Most likely, we are going to see a transition council, and this transition council will consist of military, tribal leaders and different opposition parties together and this is the most likely scenario we are going to see in Yemen in the next couple of days."

Beyond seeking Saleh's ouster, those leaders do not share much common ground.  Rivalries split the country on political, military and tribal lines, with alliances frequently shifting.

Some officials blame the al-Ahmar clan of the Hashid tribal federation for the attack on the president's mosque, but the clan says it was not involved. Government officials say they are also investigating whether the local terror group, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was responsible.

Political protesters issued a statement after Saleh's departure calling for a civilian transitional leadership, without those involved in the violence.    

While not civilian, several leading military officers who broke with the president in recent weeks have not engaged in any fighting. They have given their moral support to the anti-Saleh movement and have control over an unknown number of troops.

There are reports other troops were abandoning their positions in Taiz, and that gunmen attacked a presidential palace in the city.  Security forces are also said to be withdrawing from their posts in the southern port city of Aden.  

Security in Yemen is already tenuous, with areas beyond the capital largely in the hands of a variety of forces, including southern secessionists, northern rebels, a strong Islamist movement, and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Add to that an influx of Somali refugees from across the Gulf of Aden and some observers are wondering if Yemen faces the same lawless, chaotic fate as Somalia.  It is a scenario Yemen's neighbors, as well as the United States are trying to prevent.

The Gulf Research Center's Sager says any interim council must work quickly.

"Today we have a vacuum in the constitutional issues because, you know the president released the government," said Sager. "So there is no more government in place.  The parliament duration is ended, so we are going to need to have elections for the parliament also, we are going to need a transition and interim government now to run the issues for a month or two until everything is put in place. I think the amount of effort required now is far, far, far, far more than what is expected during the time of Ali Saleh if he had made a smooth transition."

Analyst Sager notes that whoever runs the Arab world's poorest country must tackle all these problems with a near-empty government vault.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs