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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora