December 14, 2011

Busy Day at Yemen’s Rumor Mill

Barring one of his patented “surprises” (which generally shock the external world more than they should), Ali Abdullah Saleh, won’t be landing in Washington D.C. any time soon. Local reports sparked a Twitter and Facebook firestorm that has yet to burn itself out, but rumors of Saleh’s American rendezvous have proven false on numerous occasions. Mohammed Albasha, spokesman at Yemen’s embassy in Washington, also denied that Saleh or his son, Ahmed, were planning to leave the country.

Vowing to remain in Yemen is one of those rare cases when Saleh should be taken at his word.

Separately, Albasha shot down the VOA’s own propaganda by refuting the prevailing narrative of a single-candidate election. Apparently Saleh’s regime can’t stomach its own propaganda, demonstrating the GCC intiative’s noxious nature. Albasha says that Hadi represents a consensus candidate between Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) and the oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), and that other candidates will be allowed to run. Many of the GCC’s terms, including Yemen’s upcoming election and Saleh’s immunity, remain intentionally unclear to protect the regime; no one bothered to correct this “mixup” until weeks after its surfacing.

If independent candidates are allowed to run, a scam will be generated in the form of international legitimacy. Rather than an electoral sham, the U.S., EU, UN and GCC hope to watch Hadi “fairly” beat another candidate.

Finally, an unnamed source inside the Yemeni government has told local media that foreign diplomats are currently negotiating Saleh’s immunity package, and eying next week for approval. This source expects the U.S., EU and UN to provide written obligations that they won’t assist in taking Saleh and his family to the International Criminal Court, “in accordance with the initiative of the Gulf and operational mechanism.” Although UN envoy Jamal Benomar publicly claimed that Saleh won’t be granted immunity, no formal attempt has been made to clarify this critical issue. Benomar also meets regularly with Saleh and his officials, suggesting that the UN doesn’t consider them to be criminals.

Washington seems to be increasingly optimistic that it can continue working with Saleh’s military and intelligence organs. Speaking at a meeting between regime and opposition officials, U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein defended the GCC’s initiative as an “opportunity” for Yemen’s pro-democracy movement. He also minimized Yemen’s uprising down to a political “crisis” that must be resolved, a common tactic of the international community. Feierstein would also meet with Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi on Wednesday - an ongoing campaign to legitimize Saleh’s regime and the new “unity” government standing in front of it.

Mainstream media naturally passed on all of this information. Despite having no use for transparency in Yemen, foreign governments and media expect people to believe every counter-revolutionary word they disseminate.

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