ISSN 2330-717X

Saleh Still Virtual Ruler In Yemen – OpEd


By Mohyeddin Sajedi

Yemeni Dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has departed for the United States, apparently for medical treatment. Many Yemenis, however, believe he is still ruling the country and will remain the West’s favorite figure for many years to come.

Before setting off for the US, he apologized to the Yemeni people. It is per se a great development that a dictator in the Third World and in an Arab country has apologized to people and asked for their forgiveness.

Of course, the former Yemeni president has apologized for the oversights that took place in his time, not for the suppression and massacre of people. At the same time, his apology may have been aimed at securing his future position in Yemen.

Saleh was supposed to leave Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh for New York to resume treatment after signing the US-sponsored plan, which was designed by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council. The UN secretary-general had also announced this. Saleh, however, decided to get back to Sana’a and wait for the new government and parliament to confer immunity from judicial prosecution on him and his family. In this way, he could start his trip with ease of mind and be sure that no arrest warrant would await him when he goes back to his country.

Saleh’s trip to the United States will convey the message to people who are still holding rallies on the streets that he still enjoys Washington’s support. He has been taken to the US to stay there while the situation in the country gets back to normal. If it were not for the people’s uprising in Yemen, he would have still been the favorite Middle Eastern leader for the United States who was able to fight al-Qaeda in Yemen.

An eastern town in Yemen was recently occupied by al-Qaeda. The elders, tribal leaders, and most opposition figures accused Saleh that he had ordered the army to withdraw and allow the city to fall, so that, everybody would know that his absence would mean the occupation of Yemen by al-Qaeda and followers of Bin laden.

The terrorist group only left the city after facing strong resistance from people. In the meantime, the army and the Republican Guard did nothing to repel al-Qaeda from that town.

According to a preplanned scheme, his former vice president, who is now in control of everything, has been nominated for presidency through the consensus of Yemeni lawmakers.

Ali Abdullah Saleh will remain outside the country for a while to see in what direction the country is going to be steered, hoping that the day would come when the need for his presence is felt again. He himself has vowed to return and remain the head of the General People’s Congress (GPC) party. Should the party hold on to the greater share of power in the next few years, its leader will also play an important role in the power structure.

Although Ali Abdullah Saleh has left Yemen, the army commanders, police force, security apparatuses, and Yemen’s key organizations remain in the hands of Saleh’s appointees, especially his sons, who linger at the helm of the Army, Central Security Organization and the Presidential Guard. The Riyadh agreement is a kind of deceitful reform to drive a wedge between the Saleh opposition.

What is considered to be the plan by the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council doesn’t in fact belong to this council. Qatar, for one, was against it and withdrew from the plan. Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait have their own internal woes to wail over. What was eventually compiled, after being edited many times to satisfy some of the traditional opposition and to cause a rift among the protesters, was Washington’s plan to sustain its own self-interests and those of Saudi Arabia.

The prime objective of this plan is to prevent the Yemenis from toppling the regime, to stop the unrest from spreading, and to uphold the current regime with reforms.

Should the revolution succeed in Yemen, the first country to be influenced by would be Saud Arabia, whose ruling family see Yemen as their property and have named it after themselves.

There’s just as much similarity between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in terms of social factors as there is discrepancy between the two states in terms of wealth, the former being very rich and the latter very poor. It will not be acceptable for the women in Yemen to change the ruling regime and win the Nobel peace prize, while their sisters remain deprived of the most primitive human rights such as driving or coming out of the house alone.

If a revolutionary regime comes to power in Yemen, there would be high possibility that the border agreement with Saudi Arabia might be annulled or the new government might protest against it. This agreement was reapproved during the era of Ali Abdullah Saleh and a number of Yemeni provinces were appended to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s complaint of Saudi Arabia will either be attended to in The Hague, or will lead to a military confrontation which will end in Yemen’s favor.

Last year’s incidents in the northern provinces of Yemen and the intervention of Saudi Army to abet the Army of Ali Abdullah Saleh in the crackdown on the Houthis led to the disgraceful retreat by the Riyadh leaders. A repeat of this confrontation will certainly lead to the same result.

Thus, it is vital for the king, princes, and the commanders of the Saudi Army to end the developments in Yemen in a calm and controlled manner, as Saudi Arabia always wants a weak and dependent Yemen next to itself.

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