Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yemen's President Saleh Suddenly In Need Of A Good Hospital

The Saudis have been negotiating a cease-fire in Yemen's civil war, and now it looks like they might go a step further and ease President Saleh out of the country.

The New York Times has reported that Saleh is being taken to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment after being wounded in yesterday's attack on his palace. (What, they don't have a hospital in Sana'a?)

Supposedly, Saleh was only slightly wounded in that attack, but he hasn't been seen in public since. For him to leave the country now is almost as good as an admission that he is stepping down.

WASHINGTON — President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen was being taken to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment on Saturday, a day after an attack on his compound wounded him and several members of his ruling circle, Saudi officials said.

Since the attack, which Mr. Saleh blamed on his tribal rivals, the Ahmar family, Yemeni officials have insisted that the president was only lightly injured. But he did not make an expected appearance on television on Friday, instead releasing an audiotape in which he slurred his words, suggesting that he might be sedated.

The Saudi announcement, which was denied by Yemeni officials, raises further questions about the extent of his injuries. And it may present an avenue for change in a Yemeni political crisis that has seemed unsolvable in recent months, in part because of Mr. Saleh’s repeated refusal to step aside in favor of a coalition government favored by other leaders in the region.

Earlier Saturday, at least six other Yemeni officials who were injured in the attack were transported to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, according to a statement released by Yemen’s official news agency. They were all said to be high-ranking members of the ruling party, including the prime minister. The attack, apparently using a mortar or rocket, caused an explosion in a mosque on the grounds of the expansive presidential palace where the men were praying. Seven of the president’s guards were killed in the attack and at least nine people were wounded beside Mr. Saleh.

It isn't clear to me whether Saleh has actually departed Yemen at this time, or if he has merely accepted the Saudi's offer. Once he is in the Saudi's hands, he is no longer really in control in Yemen.


Anonymous said...

Great Post TSB! Any ideas on who will be the Saudi's new guy in Yemen? And could we just arm him out the the Saudi $60 billion deal? gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I thought it was pretty clear the Ahmar brothers were attacked first days ago. This story has that backwards. I wonder if this was a US missile (to explain the accuracy) and the number of casualties?? gwb

TSB said...

I don't think anyone knows who might take power in Yemen, assuming that Saleh actually steps down. (Reuters has now said he's arrived in Saudi Arabia, but that's still unconfirmed.)

There is no reason to assume things in Yemen will get better, just different.

TSB said...

Regarding our accurate missiles, if I was a suspicious type, I'd wonder whether it was a missile at all, or an internal explosion blamed on a missile.