May 22, 2011

Three Strikes and Clinton’s Out

Having risked her reputation by finally sticking her neck out in Yemen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has released a second statement on the actions of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Steering clear of the revolution until she could no longer avoid it, Clinton is demonstrating that her ego provides more motivation than freedom. Considering how Saleh flaunted his U.S. political cover, this statement should have been delivered by President Barack Obama as well.

As it stands, Clinton’s remarks (they cannot be termed condemnation) are composed of three paragraphs, each containing falsities. The entirety of the administration's reaction to Sunday bodes ill for the future.
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.
Saleh’s “commitment” is hollow to the core. He isn’t turning his back on his “commitments,” only his rhetoric. It’s true that Washington wants Saleh to sign the GCC’s proposal as quickly as possible, replace the regime with Saleh’s ruling party, and move on with counter-terrorism operations. What no U.S. official will admit is that Yemen’s popular protesters, who compose the bulk of the revolution, reject the GCC’s proposal.

Clinton speaks as though she's oblivious to the streets' demands. A statement by the Coordinating Council of the Youth Revolution of Change (CCYRC) vowed to continue their movement and “will not stop at any initiative unless it includes the demands of the rebels.” Other coalitions are proceeding in similar fashion. Saleh will disregard the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people if he does sign, as would the Obama administration.
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.
The GCC and Washington’s “tireless” efforts mean little to the tireless protesters filling Yemen’s streets by the millions. Nor is Saleh the only party that refuses to match actions with words - the Obama administration also suffers from this vice. By promoting the GCC’s initiative against the spirit of the revolution, U.S. policy in Yemen has contradicted everything Obama laid out in his “Moment of Opportunity.”

Signing the GCC’s document will miss that opportunity, not that he spent much time on Yemen anyway. Beyond failing to address the people’s aspirations and grievances, the GCC’s power transfer is liable to fail any time within the prescribed 90 days. The administration will be responsible for all subsequent fallout from the proposal, whether it acknowledges so or not.

And the more time Saleh stalls, the longer AQAP can expand its area of operations. Thus U.S. policy unintentionally contradicts its own interests.
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.
We stand by our conspiracy theory despite Clinton’s belated response. This “outrage” doesn’t seem to have provoked that much of a reaction from the White House, even though Clinton was supposedly livid when informed of the embassy’s mini-crisis. Again, U.S. diplomats may have expected Saleh to sign if they actually believed in his “commitments,” yet his every action indicated a setup. Security reportedly disappeared from Sana’a as his loyalists took to the streets.

The White House is either blind or in on the scam. Neither option is appealing, and WikiLeaks have documented Washington's knowledge of Saleh’s well-known polarity. Pleading ignorance doesn’t comply with reality.

Although a full reaction may lie in the chamber for tomorrow, further statements remain uncertain. The White House and State Department have stood deathly silent for the last two weeks (and months), ignoring Saleh’s perpetual deception and repeated assaults on protesters. Whatever U.S. officials say tomorrow may not have much consequence anyway.

Like Saleh, the time for talk is over. Instead of doubling down on a fatal policy, the White House must support a completely new power transfer based on the will of the Yemeni people. Obama himself needs to start acting now - and on the revolution’s side.

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