Today heralded the latest “encouraging signs” that Ali Abdullah Saleh will agree to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) proposal within “one week.” Speaking to Reuters, Sultan al-Barakani claimed that the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) and oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) are working out a final agreement over the timing of a presidential election.
"All of these steps, I'm optimistic will be completed in the next 10 to 15 days," said the GPC’s assistant secretary-general. "What we need more time for is finding a new (presidential) election date."
Although other tyrants are more murderous, Saleh has earned an international reputation for his cunning, duplicity and stall tactics. Insincerely agreeing to the GCC’s proposal in April - which stipulated his resignation in 30 days - Saleh rejected its terms in dramatic fashion and dragged the revolution for two months before being wounded in a June 3rd assassination attempt. Once in Saudi Arabia for treatment, his family of security commanders and inner political circle kept the regime on life-support, refusing to negotiate but willing to unleash violence on peaceful protesters.
al-Barakani himself was tasked to stall for time, arguing that the government cannot negotiate over the GCC’s proposal while Saleh’s health was in question. "President Saleh still needs more weeks, at least two weeks, to convalesce," al-Barakani said in late June. More than five months have now passed since the GCC introduced its initiative at the request of Riyadh and Washington.
Saleh’s latest attempt to stall - transferring the authority to conduct a “dialogue” - couldn’t be more transparent. After immediately collapsing the Obama administration’s one-week “deadline,” for lack of a better word, al-Barakani turned to the honed tactic of flip-flopping. Today the regime is willing to work with the JMP, unlike other days when GPC officials slander the opposition for the government's crimes. On top of blaming the opposition for corrupting the youth and all violence in Sana’a, Saleh’s regime hopes to pin any political resistance on the JMP - but also refuses to negotiate with any party except the JMP.
Saleh’s regime also accuses the hydra of Sadiq, Hamid and Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, two tribal leaders and a defected general, of the attack on the presidential mosque. All are affiliated with the JMP’s various parties. Many Yemenis question the delayed results of the investigation and suspect an inside job, but al-Barakani would tell reporters on August 24th, "We were tolerant after the incident in the palace mosque and agreed to meet the opposition, but we are no longer holding out a hand to these murderers, these criminals and terrorists ... those who planned and carried out the attack.”
The regime regularly labels the JMP as “bandits,” “criminals” and “terrorists” in a relatively unsuccessful slander campaign. The JMP is already highly unpopular with the revolutionaries, who reject the GCC’s initiative outright. This is one reason why the regime continues to play along with the JMP.
al-Barakani’s latest statements indicate that Saleh has no intention of resigning immediately (as the JMP now demands), or within the 90-day amendment introduced by the GPC. This is no surprise but it does contradict the State Department’s positive assessment. One Saudi official has since told the AFP that Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi will sign within one week, but he added another stall tactic: a guarantee that Saleh's son, Ahmed, Ahmed commands the U.S.-trained Republican Guard, which is responsible for the majority of violence committed against Yemen's revolutionaries and anti-government tribesmen.
For his part al-Barakani sounded an extremely skeptical note: "The president leaving through a political agreement? I reject it today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.” He hopes that a presidential election can be organized by January or February, giving Saleh another four months to stall and plot his next schemes.
"We have a political system built on a constitution,” al-Barakani added, standard rhetoric to counter the erosion of Yemen’s social contract. “We need to respect it. The presidency is selected based on an electoral system. Why should we destroy this government just to satisfy a few dozen people?"
Meanwhile violence continues to flare between regime and oppositional forces, both peaceful protesters and anti-government tribes. Covering one incident on Friday evening, the Yemen Post reported, “amidst claims from the U.S and Saudi officials that they saw ‘encouraging signs’ in Yemen, the government forces opened fire on an anti-government camp in Sana’a, injuring at least 8 civilians.”
Marked as a counter-terrorism unit and equipped by U.S. trainers, Central Security has exhausted most of its resources containing and suppressing Yemen’s revolution.
As usual government officials denied these accusations, another routine tactic shared by authoritarian regimes. Going several steps further, Yemen’s Foreign Minister has prepared a counter-argument to the UNHRC’s highly critical report. Speaking before his departure to Geneva, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi claimed that the report required clarification and blamed its inaccuracies on a shortened mission. Declaring that the government “wants the truth,” al-Qirbi took credit for summoning the UNHRC’s delegation in order to “refute false claims.”
“We will affirm that Yemen is keen on considering all human rights abuses and to be brought to court if there is an evidence,” al-Qirbi concluded, seemingly unwilling to take any responsibility for the regime’s human rights abuses.
So why expect Saleh to sign the GCC’s proposal, when his government is still acting like Yemen’s revolution doesn’t exist? He’s gone into business with the Obama administration, cooperating militarily, resisting UN action and selling false hope.
"The convergence of our legal views with those of our international partners matters," John Brennan, the White House’s counterterror chief, remarked in his latest speaking engagement to Harvard Law School. "The effectiveness of our counterterrorism activities depends on the assistance and cooperation of our allies—who, in ways public and private, take great risks to aid us in this fight."