News / Middle East

As Yemen Crisis Drags On, Risks Grow

Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh makes his first public appearance since he was injured in a blast at his palace compound in June, 2011. (file photo)
Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh makes his first public appearance since he was injured in a blast at his palace compound in June, 2011. (file photo)
Elizabeth Arrott

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he is working on a plan for a peaceful transition of power, even as opponents announce they will unilaterally create what looks like an alternative government. 

The main opposition coalition will meet next week to form what it's calling a "national council" to step up the pressure against Saleh, who is currently in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.  The opposition Joint Meeting Parties want to unite the demands of street protesters and other anti-government forces seeking an end to Saleh's decades-long rule.

Government officials are warning against any such council, saying it would be a declaration of war against the state. Moreover, they say, it is unnecessary. Yemen's state media report that the president is again considering a plan by the Gulf Cooperation Council that outlines the steps toward a post-Saleh Yemen. The president is quoted as saying late Wednesday that his government is committed to finding solutions to the "disagreement" with the opposition.  

Saleh was shown in a video from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he has been recovering from a bomb blast at his presidential compound in June. He appeared more vigorous than in previous images. However, his comments about the GCC plan came under question. He has agreed to the GCC proposal three times in recent months, each time backing out at the last minute.  

The ongoing stalemate, now in its seventh month, is raising further alarms abroad.   The U.N. Security Council this week expressed its concerns, which range from a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, to the instability being exploited by the Yemen-based terrorist group, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.  

U.N. Security Council President Hardeep Singh Puri urged all parties to reject violence as a solution to the political crisis.   

"The members of the Security Council also called on all parties to move forward urgently, and an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition that meets the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change," said Puri. 

Yemen's government stresses that change will not be brought about by any external pressure.   

Officials this week rejected a report that the United States and Saudi Arabia are urging  Saleh not to return to Sana'a. A U.S. State Department spokesman also denied the report, saying it was up to the president to return or not. Washington has long supportedSaleh as a bulwark against al-Qaida.  

Yemeni political commentator Nasser Arrabyee says Saleh's whereabouts are likely not as important as his actual involvement in the process.  

"Saleh still has a lot of support," he said. "His supporters are millions here and that's why the international community is focusing on a constitutional transition, which means that it is only President Saleh who will do this constitutional transition."

Arrabyee says the alternative, more violence between government forces and its opponents, is in no one's interest.  But he adds that the longer the situation drags on, the greater the chance that militant forces can coopt the original pro-reform movement.

"The protesters are still there in the streets," said Arrabyee. "But their leaders are doing something else. They are now involved in military confrontations, under the leadership of al Ahmar, and they have also the defected general Ali Mohsen, who also supported the protests but he is involved in many military confrontations."

Tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar, whose members have already fought fierce battles against government troops, joined forces late last month with other tribal groups to form the Alliance of Yemeni Tribes.  The well-armed tribes say any aggression against the protesters will be considered an attack against them.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs