May 19, 2011
Pre-speech Yemen overview
If you haven't been reading my Yemen themed blog religiously, you can still catch up before the One's big speech at 11:40 on Middle East policy. Short story, the US and Riyadh sought to retain as much of the current Saleh administration as possible by backing a bogus "transition plan" sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council which fell through yesterday after Saleh rejected it again. Saleh is a compulsive liar with no intention of stepping down and all of Yemen knows it.
The protesters demand for the last 101 days is Saleh's immediate departure and accountability for his many many crimes before and after the rev began. Security forces loyal to Saleh, headed by his son and nephews, have killed about 200 protesters and wounded thousands. These same units are also the counter-terror units funded, trained and equipped by the US. To Obama's credit, the US did suspend a multi-million dollar aid package when the atrocities began to unfold in February.
The Trench has such a good analysis of Yemen's current configuration that I had a hard time deciding what to excerpt. Forging a new future in Yemen, discusses the GCC proposal for Yemen and why it failed: However the GCC entered Yemen’s revolution soon afterward to resolve its “political crisis,” interfering on insincere terms and permanently compromising any future agreement.
And from today
This was political posturing at its worst: gains for the few at the masses’ expense. Already lining up Israel-Palestinian negotiations, economic packages for Egypt and Tunisia, and condemnation for Libya and Syria, Obama thought he could crown his speech with a breakthrough in Yemen. Instead he hit Saleh’s wall after GCC leadership left an uncertain Sana’a empty-handed, exposing Washington's own red hands.
Yesterday’s events demonstrate that the White House remains deaf to Yemen’s popular revolution, which largely opposes the GCC’s intervention and its U.S.-Saudi proposal. This proposal offers Saleh another 30 days to stall, immunity for his family’s crimes against the Yemeni people (enabled by U.S. training and equipment), a transitional council composed of a majority GPC, and a clause that pro-democracy protesters return home.
Before the deal fell through yesterday, John Brennan called Ali Saleh to urge him to step down and affirmed "the commitment of the United States to stand with the Yemeni government (ed-to run interference on any future prosecutions of Saleh and his family for crimes against humanity) and people as they implement this historic agreement." I can't wait to see what Plan B is. All of Yemen will be watching as well.
Update: Man was I unrealistically optimistic. The O-ness called Saleh a friend and urged him to undertake the transition that Saleh rejected yesterday. Its a green light for Saleh to slaughter more protesters. He spent more time on the aspirations of the Iranians, who aren't even protesting, then on the nationwide Yemeni rev that has been ongoing for 102 days now.