[dehai-news] A Possible Political Exit by Yemen's President

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From: Tsegai Emmanuel (emmanuelt40@gmail.com)
Date: Sat Jun 04 2011 - 19:23:19 EDT

A Possible Political Exit by Yemen's President
Created *Jun 4 2011 - 15:11*

A Yemeni army soldier cries during a demonstration by tens of thousands of
anti-government protesters during Friday prayers in central Sanaa on June 3

Rumors have been circulating about whether Yemeni President Ali Abdullah
Saleh has left Sanaa for Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to receive medical
treatment. At least five other senior Yemeni officials, including the prime
minister, deputy prime minister, the president’s top security advisor,
speaker of the parliament and the speaker of Yemen’s Shura Council, were
reportedly flown to Saudi Arabia earlier June 4 for medical treatment. By
most accounts, Saleh appears to have suffered burns to his face and chest
and may have pieces of wooden shrapnel in his chest, but there are no clear
indications that he is in life-threatening condition. If Saleh has indeed
left Sanaa for Riyadh at the height of his political struggle, this could be
a crucial step toward seeing through a political exit strategy negotiated by
Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States, both of whom share a common
interest in averting civil war in Yemen.

The June 3 attack on the presidential palace followed a week of street
battles between pro-Saleh forces and armed tribesmen loyal to the
influential al-Ahmar brothers. Initially, blame for the
fell to the al-Ahmars, whose own family compound has been
bombarded by Saleh’s forces over the past week. However, the attack itself
required a high level of
intelligence work to penetrate the president’s security detail and
the intended target with such precision. This was not the job of tribesmen,
but of military men, supported by members of the regime thought to be close
to Saleh. For that reason, STRATFOR suspects that Saleh’s most formidable
opponent within the military, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen
who has been conspicuously quiet over the past few days and who commands a
great deal of respect among Yemen’s old guard, was involved in the apparent
coup plot.

If Saleh were seriously injured, doctors would likely be flown to him for
treatment. It would be unusual for him to be leaving Sanaa at the height of
this political crisis unless he is taking steps toward a political exit.
Whether he is doing so on his own accord or if Saudi Arabia is denying him a
choice in the matter is unclear, but Saleh has come face-to-face with a
series of betrayals in a very short period of time, and that kind of
pressure can lead to fast decision making.

The biggest question moving forward is whether a political deal negotiated
among those remaining in Sanaa will hold together. For now, Yemeni Vice
President Abd-al Rab Masur al-Hadi has been answering the phone, reassuring
foreign leaders that the president is in good health. The vice president is
a less controversial figure, but he is merely a placeholder and would not
command respect within a post-Saleh regime. While Saleh has come to
personify the Yemeni state during his 33-year reign in power, he has stacked
the country’s military apparatus, diplomatic corps and top businesses with
his sons, nephews and closest relatives. Saleh’s kin within Yemen’s most
elite security organs, including the Republican Guard, Special Forces,
Central Security Forces, Counter-Terrorism Unit and National Security
Bureau, comprise the bulk of the U.S.-trained “new
would be expected to avenge Saleh and retain their stake to the regime
against the Mohsen-led old guard. It remains unclear, however, how deep the
betrayals that led to the June 3 palace attack went, and to what extent
Saleh’s loyalist faction has been weakened.

U.S. and Saudi interests<http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110523-continuing-tensions-yemen>in
Yemen are largely aligned – both see Saleh as a liability and see his
removal as necessary to preventing civil war in the country. Saudi Arabia
appears to be taking charge of the situation, but whether it can negotiate
and manage a political transition among the remnants of the Saleh regime and
those who are leading the coup apparently underway in Sanaa is still
unknown, especially when such negotiations must take into account the laws
of tribal vendetta<http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110527-yemens-tribal-troubles>

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