Sunday, April 24, 2011

Protests & Pressure Finally Give Yemeni Dictator The Boot

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to submit his resignation within 30 days, apparently destined to become the third Arab despot to abdicate during the Pan-Arab freedom and democracy movement, joining the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

In three decades of rule, Saleh is accused of ordering the executions of some of his critics, imprisoning others without trial and rigging elections.

Saleh has been a two-faced friend of the United States over the years (he supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, for example), but more recently he became a darling of the post-9/11 terror-hunter cottage industry because he allowed U.S. drones to unleash hellfire missiles on suspected Al Qaeda leaders.

However, many of his fans, who were willing to look the other way and ignore Saleh's dismal human rights record, never took into consideration that his strong-arm tactics contributed to the growth of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. All that has changed amid months of pro-democracy demonstrations by angry Yemenis. The United States welcomed his peaceful exit.

"The United States supports a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen that is responsive to the aspirations of the Yemeni people. We applaud the announcements by the Yemeni Government and the opposition that they have accepted the GCC-brokered agreement to resolve the political crisis in a peaceful and orderly manner," the White House said in a statement.

"We encourage all parties to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement so that the Yemeni people can soon realize the security, unity, and prosperity that they have so courageously sought and so richly deserve," the White House added.

The Gulf Cooperation Council brokered the deal yesterday, which, along with Salah's resignation, also calls for a presidential election to be held within two months. The deal would grant Saleh immunity in exchange for stepping down.

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