March 2, 2011

Saleh’s New Scam: “Apologize” to White House

Not so surprising that Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh has backtracked on his conspiratorial threats against America and Israel. This, too, is one of his tactics - excusing intentional remarks as “a misunderstanding.” According to the White House, Saleh called counter-terrorism chief John Brennan "to convey his regret for misunderstandings related to his public remarks that Israel and the United States have engaged in destabilizing activities in Arab countries."

And a silent Washington, so willing to defy Yemen’s will and keep Saleh in power, has publicly accepted his apology.

Said Brennan, “President Saleh also said that he is firmly committed to meaningful political reform in Yemen and that he is reaching out to opposition elements in an effort to achieve reform through a democratic, inclusive, and peaceful process.”

An interesting view that defies Yemen’s evolving revolution.

Protesters are unlikely to recognize the ruler that Brennan describes. Just today, the U.S. embassy in Sana’a released a belated warning that, "authorities have recently committed violations against the press including blocking websites and threatening to deport and abusing international correspondents.” In the southern port city of Aden, stronghold of the secessionist Southern Movement, Saleh has arrested dozens of SM officials as they try to organized protests in the south. Clashes between Saleh loyalists and the northern Houthi tribe have broken out in recent days. Neither group holds any trust in Saleh’s “dialogue,” if one can call it that.

And, of course, only yesterday America and Israel were responsible for this unrest.

The quick and quiet acceptance of Saleh’s “apology” is merely the latest sign of a broken, helpless U.S. policy in Yemen. While the opposition is reportedly considering a transitional period before Saleh’s exit, their demands are unlikely to be fulfilled as usual, a pattern that contributes to Yemen’s heated stalemate. His desperate accusation against America and Israel - a destabilizing “conspiracy” Yemenis would agree with given unilateral U.S. support for Saleh - added more evidence of why he cannot be taken seriously. Refusing to become distracted by diversionary measures, Yemen’s popular opposition remains adamant about securing the president’s exit.

Only America, Saleh, and his dwindling tribal allies want him to survive - and maybe a flourishing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Propping him up will inevitably lead to his fall, although we see what lengths Washington will go through to close its eyes.

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