April 5, 2011

Saleh, Yemeni Opposition Invited to Riyadh

Saba Net is reporting that Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs, has invited representatives from the Yemeni government and the opposition to Saudi Arabia to negotiate a political resolution. The invitation was extended from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). More than a few Gulf states have their hands full with their own protests, so how sincere are they in ending Yemen’s revolution on the protesters’ side?

Bahrain and Oman must be scared that Saleh’s domino could tip them over.

Something is obviously happening between Washington and the King, so we’ll see how they treat both parties. Each is motivated to keep President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power due to the belief that Yemen will collapse without him. Never-mind that Yemen has been a failed state since Foreign Policy started indexing them in 2005. Saudi Arabia doesn’t support Saleh; it prefers a weak ruler that allows hegemony in the north. The Saudis have established a deep tribal network to counteract Saleh’s lack of authority, a breach of sovereignty that a democratic government is unlikely to tolerate.

Working in tandem with other Gulf states, the Saudis do possess the most political weight to move a deal, as U.S. consent is presumed. On the other hand, ringleader Saudi Arabia and Gulf states are actively limiting the effects of revolution in the Middle East and North Africa. Yemen’s opposition may have no choice in accepting the invite, but it’s heading into an uphill battle to remove Saleh on their terms.

While defected general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar accepted the GCC's call, the oppositional coalition is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Fourth-generation warfare is a battle of political wills and Yemen’s opposition needs to send an all-star lineup to hold their position, at the political table and in the global media. Off to a good start, JMP spokesman Muhammad Qahtan just promised that any new regime “will be a strong ally in the War on Terror.” The opposition is watching everything coming out of the U.S. media.

Local networks, mass civil disobedience, low-intensity violence, national insurgency, frequent public outreach, economic disruption, political isolation - now these people understand fourth-generation warfare.

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