Yemen’s president refuses to step down, Clinton upset

 @ibtimes
on May 23 2011 2:22 AM

United States administration is “deeply disappointed” by the refusal of Yemen’s president to sign an agreement to step down in 30 days, says U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This is the third time that such a deal has fallen through at the last minute, and this time President Ali Abdullah Saleh has refused to sign the agreement despite pressure from the United States and the Arab world.

The United States is deeply disappointed by President Saleh’s continued refusal to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative. He is turning his back on his commitments and disregarding the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people. The concerted efforts of the international community, led by the GCC, have been tireless and all sides have agreed -- on multiple occasions -- to sign the GCC initiative. President Saleh is now the only party that refuses to match actions to words. We urge him to immediately follow through on his repeated commitments to peacefully and orderly transfer power and ensure the legitimate will of the Yemeni people is addressed. The time for action is now, Clinton said in a statement.

Gunmen loyal to Saleh surrounded the United Arab Emirates embassy on Sunday, trapping inside US, Arab and European diplomats who are working to resolve the crisis and prevented them from going to the presidential palace to see Saleh.

Clinton was also “outraged” that Saleh’s supporters had surrounded the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Sana. We are also outraged to learn that earlier today factions loyal to President Saleh encircled the UAE embassy in Sana’a. They refused to allow U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein, ambassadors from the United Kingdom the European Union and GCC states, the GCC Secretary General and other foreign diplomats to leave the embassy. We condemn this action and call on President Saleh to meet his international obligations to ensure the safety and security of all foreign diplomats and their staffs working in Yemen, she warned him.

On Sunday, Saleh refused to sign the deal on the grounds that al Qaeda militants could fill the political and security gap if he was not in power and he also blamed the opposition for the deal's collapse.

If Yemen is engulfed in a civil war, they will be responsible for it and the bloodshed, he said on state television.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power”.

If Saleh had signed the deal then it would have given him immunity from prosecution, ensuring a noble exit after remaining 33 years in power. He also would have become the third Arab leader expelled by popular protests since January 2011.

Saleh is not serious about getting out of power. And this is part of his strategy to remain in charge, said Theodore Karasik, Dubai-based security analyst, adding that the 69-year-old ruler was no longer seen as a trusted partner, reported by Reuters.

He might be able to hang on, but the pressure from outside is going to be so intense now that it could be his days are numbered, he added.

Yemen's opposition coalition, including Islamists and leftists, had already signed the deal on Saturday after indications from Gulf mediators that Saleh would sign it.

The opposition is now under pressure to avoid further compromises from the protesters, including students and tribesmen, who want immediate exit of Saleh and have vowed to continue their rallies until Saleh quits.

Both US and Saudi Arabia are targets of al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, and are keen to end the Yemeni stalemate and prevent the spread of anarchy that could give the militant network more operating ground.

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