News / Middle East

Yemen's President Remains in Office Despite Widespread Opposition

Yemeni protesters chant slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sana'a, Yemen, September 28, 2011.
Yemeni protesters chant slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sana'a, Yemen, September 28, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview with freelance journalist Tom Finn in Sana'a

TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has managed to hang on to power despite a popular uprising, regional pressure, military defections and an assassination attempt. Some political observers accuse the United States and Saudi Arabia of propping up an unpopular leader, while others argue there are no attractive alternatives.

VOA's Davin Hutchins speaks with freelance journalist Tom Finn in Sana'a about the situation in Yemen:

For long-time Yemen political observer Mustafa al Ani, there's no mystery to why President Saleh is still in power.

"He still enjoys some support for a very simple reason; the personalities which are leading the opposition are no less corrupt than the government," he said. "They really have a bad reputation and people know them very well."

Al Ani, the head of the security department at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, singles out tribal leader Hamid al Ahmar and Islamist Abdel Mageed al Zanadani as two prominent anti-Saleh figures with what he believes are questionable pasts.

But they are only the beginning of a long list of people who oppose the president.

Al Ani believes the situation in Yemen is fundamentally different than the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, with many of the divisions seen now having a long history in the fractious, impoverished Arab state. Those splits, he says, are proving an impediment to pushing through basic reforms.

"There is no actually clear vision how anyone can lead Yemen out of this deep problem.  It's basically the disintegration of the political vision now," he said. "And no one agrees. Even the question of the constitutional amendments, you are talking about so many versions of the constitution and everyone is basically defending his own interests. "

Not everyone is so pessimistic. Yemeni columnist Hakim al Masmari puts a different spin on the multitude of voices.

"The revolution is led by everyone: by tribal adults, by youth, by liberals, by the opposition conservatives, by senior leaders," said Masmari. "The idea is not who will be behind the change.  The idea is seeking democracy and freedom."  

The editor in chief of the Yemen Post, in Sana'a, says the main problem facing the country is not its internal divisions, but foreign interference.

"If the United States and Saudi Arabia did not support Saleh, he would have been forced to step down," he said. "Most of the financial support and the weapons are given by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. The two countries have been a burden on the Yemen revolution and must understand that the future of Yemen will not be in their favor if they do not give in to the will of the people."

That will, Masmari argues, will prevail, with President Saleh inevitably stepping down, whether "today, tomorrow or next year."  What both men agree on is that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, plus other states in the Gulf and the Horn of Africa, should be greatly concerned about the situation deteriorating further.

"A total security collapse will have a huge impact on increasing terrorist activities, separatism and organized crime," said the Gulf Research Center's al Ani:We have a long list of problems if we allow the security situation to collapse in Yemen.  It will definitely have an impact on the whole region and can not be confined to Yemen - absolutely not.  

Editor Masmari agrees that terrorist groups often attract the disaffected, adding the reminder "Yemenis are poor, and well armed."

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

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid