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

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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs