Yemen's ailing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key ally in the war on terror, is being urged by the U.S. to stay in Saudi Arabia and hand over power to a new government, as the Gulf Cooperation Council has urged.
President Obama's counterterrorism adviser John Brennan visited with Saleh at a Saudi military hospital over the weekend, advising him to sign a deal transferring power. Brennan handed Saleh a letter from Obama that indicated the U.S. leader's support for the Arab Spring freedom movement that has swept out several longtime Arab dictators.
Saleh and Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi are the next despots in line to get the boot.
"During the meeting, Mr. Brennan called upon President Saleh to fulfil expeditiously his pledge to sign the GCC-brokered agreement for peaceful and constitutional political transition in Yemen," a White House the statement said.
"The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realise their aspirations," thee statement added.
Saleh is recovering from bad burns and other injuries sustained during aJune 3 assassination attempt on his presidential compound in Sanaa, Yemen. In power in Yemen since 1978, Saleh has long allowed U.S. killer drones to fly over his airspace to target suspected members and accomplices of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.
U.S. counterterrorism officials have been sweating out the demise of Saleh, preferring to look the other way while the unpopular despot tightens his grip on his own people in order to keep him power. But the so-called terror-hunters appear to be on the losing end of that argument.