US-compliant Yemeni president ‘injured’ after palace shelled; US, Saudi’s preparing his replacement

Jun 3, 2011 by itnnews

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been ‘slightly injured’ say officials after his palace was reportedly shelled.

[The article from the Guardian, below, describes the shifting terms of the struggle in Yemen–which began as a popular uprising against a brutal, repressive regime, and now has special attention from the US and Saudi Arabia, who are intent on having a controlling hand in the government and military powers that emerge after Yemeni President Saleh’s probable-impending demise.  This has some similarity with the process in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, after the eruption of people’s revolts, where the US moved, rather clumsily, to drop relations with compliant and allied dictators Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi, and moved to control the emerging new forces in a process of moving from imperialist “business as usual” to finessing claims of “concern for humanitiarian issues” and “democracy”, to ensuring the bottom line: strategic control of the political economy, through corrupt surrogates, military intervention, racketeering, and starvation.  For the people, getting rid of Saleh, as with Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi, is only one part of getting rid of imperialism and all reactionaries (including other styles of reactionaries like al Qaeda).  Developing revolutionary forces with clear-sighted political independence and initiatives is the only immediate objective which leads forward. — Frontlines ed.]

Yemen slides towards all-out war after President Saleh survives rocket attack

Government claims attack on presidential compound was ‘attempted coup’ as fighting intensifies in Sana’a

Ian Black, Middle East editor and Shatha al-Harazi in Sana’a, Friday 3 June 2011

The latest violence in Yemen is likely to lead to Saudi Arabian calls for Saleh to step down. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

Yemen‘s embattled president survived an apparent attempt to kill him on Friday as fighting intensified in Sana’a amidst warnings that the country is sliding inexorably into all-out war.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 32 years, emerged defiant from his compound in the capital after it was attacked: shells or a missile hit a mosque inside, killing three guards and a cleric and lightly injuring him and two other senior government figures.

The incident fuelled growing anxieties that the Arab uprisings, which have have brought dramatic changes to Egypt and Tunisia, is turning Yemen — already the Arab world’s poorest country — into something far more volatile and dangerous.

The government was quick to accuse Saleh’s bitter rival, Hamid al-Ahmar of the opposition Islah party, of launching the attack, and government forces immediately shelled his mansion in Sana’a.

“The al-Ahmars have committed a great crime, and crossed a red line,” said Tareq al-Shami, a government spokesman. “This was an attempted coup, and the government will take all necessary measures.”

Sadeq al-Ahmar, head of the powerful Hashid tribal federation, blamed Saleh himself for the shelling, saying it was carried out to help justify the government’s escalation of streetfighting in the capital.

Saleh, who was treated at a military hospital, was reported to be preparing to give a press conference later. Claims of his death were first reported by an oppostion TV station and made headlines around the world before being denied.

Abdul Ghani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst, told al-Jazeera it was “quite reasonable to assume” that Ahmar’s fighters were behind the palace attack. “[The tribesmen] probably wanted him to know that [Saleh] can no longer attack them with impunity, and that they can reach him as he can reach them,” Iryani said.

Other regional analysts say the chances for a democratic or peaceful transition of power in Yemen are slim.

It was a violent end to a violent week. On Thursday government jets strafed roads and villages north of Sana’a as thousands of tribesmen tried to enter the capital to fight Saleh loyalists. Residents described an atmosphere of fear and alarm at food shortages and rising prices.

Saleh has reneged on a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states under which he would step down in return for an amnesty to be followed by free elections.

The US, which has leaned on the Yemeni leader in its fight against al-Qaida, has increased pressure for Saleh to go, blaming the bloodshed on his backpedalling from the agreement. Britain and the EU are also pushing hard for him to implement it.

The latest violence is likely to persuade neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has strong ties with the Yemeni tribes, to strongly press Saleh to step aside, and so avert disaster in a country where half of the 23 million people owns a gun.

The attack on the president came after Friday prayers, with heavy artillery repeatedly striking the presidential compound and shaking nearby buildings. The streets were deserted after many residents fled the city for the safety of nearby villages.

“People there were happy to hear that he [the president] had been killed, but then the government denied that,” said Ibrahim Mothana, 22, a student. “It means we will experience an escalation and it will probably be more violent.”

Another resident told the Guardian: “The streets are empty. I managed to go out yesterday to buy some food but the prices are going up daily. In the street where I live all the families have gone back to their villages and just left a family member to stay behind to look after the house. There must be more than 100,000 in total who have left the city.”

The US emphasised the need for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power. “Violence cannot resolve the issues that confront Yemen, and today’s events cannot be a justification for a new round of fighting,” a White House spokesman said. President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, spent two days this week trying to peruade the Saudis and the UAE to boost efforts to help bring an end to Yemen’s violence.

On Thursday, the official Yemeni news agency said the government was, again, willing to endorse the Gulf-brokered transition agreement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s