After weeks on unyielding unrest in Yemen, one of the most powerful allies of that country’s president, the United States, is now engineering a policy shift in which is not seeks to remove the Yemeni leader from power.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has benefitted from the support of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia due to his perceived value as a bulwark against terrorists, may now be persuaded to quietly exit the stage, according to a report in the New York Times.
Up to now, U.S. officials have largely avoided commenting on the bloodshed in Yemen. However, now the Obama Administration has reportedly informed its allies that Saleh’s hold on power is untenable and that he needs to resign. (Saleh has become increasingly isolated in Yemen after many of his top deputies have defected following a brutal crackdown on protesters).
According to the Times, a Yemeni government said that Saleh has been privately negotiating with the U.S. about his stepping down from office and the retention of anti-terrorism operations in Yemen in the absence of Saleh.
A US official told the Times that the existence of terrorist groups in Yemen remain a critical problems/
“Groups of various stripes — Al Qaeda, Houthis, tribal elements, and secessionists — are exploiting the current political turbulence and emerging fissures within the military and security services for their own gain,” the official said.
“Until President Saleh is able to resolve the current political impasse by announcing how and when he will follow through on his earlier commitment to take tangible steps to meet opposition demands, the security situation in Yemen is at risk of further deterioration.”
However, Mohammed Abulahom, a Yemeni member of Parliament who opposes Saleh, told the Times that the Americans are doing what ought to be done, and we will see more pressure down the road.”
The Times quoted a protester who complained that the US has not offered any support or encouragement to the Yemeni opposition movement.
We are really very, very angry because America until now didn't help us similar to what Mr. Obama said that Mubarak has to leave now, he said.
Obama says he appreciated the courage and dignity of Tunisian people. He didn't say that for Yemeni people. We feel that we have been betrayed.”
It is unclear whether or not the US would consider a passage for Saleh to a safe haven exile.