Another Loss Of Wisdom? Yemeni Leader Again Rejects Deal

May 19, 2011

A second agreement between Yemen's leaders to transfer government power has collapsed. The head of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, who was brokering an agreement that would ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power, left Yemen yesterday after the accord fell apart. Several reports inciated President Saleh and opposition groups would sign it.

Al-Arabiya's report was scathing:

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen publicly humiliated leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Wednesday by raising expectations that he would sign a GCC-brokered accord ensuring his exit from power with full immunity against prosecution—and then refusing to sign on the dotted line.

Yemen's news agency merely reported GCC mediator Abdullatif al-Zayani left after a five day visit to discuss the "ongoing Yemeni crisis". He's not the first to give up. Last week, Qatar quit the mediation effort, citing President Saleh's stalling tactics and a 'loss of wisdom' in the talks.

There'd been doubt that Saleh would ultimately sign the deal, which would see him give up power in 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution for the government crackdown on anti-government protesters. More than 150 people have been killed, according to AP.

NPR's Robert Siegel spoke with Princeton University's Gregory Johnsen, who's studied Yemen. He says the crisis has divided the Yemeni military: some members have defected to the opposition while others, such as those who've gotten U.S. funding, have stayed loyal to Saleh.

Mr. JOHNSEN: For a long time, the U.S. has run most of its counter-terrorism operations not only through (Saleh), but through his sons and his nephews, which control many of the armed forces.

...What this means for the fight against al-Qaida is simply this. There's no one out in the hinterlands that's fighting al-Qaida in a way that they were fighting them last year. And this, I think, is a very dangerous situation.

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