Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Saleh the Indespensable

Dictator in Chief Saleh after 32 years in power in Yemen certainly knows how to shoot himself in the foot.  There can be no doubt that his second about-face, refusing to sign the deal brokered by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, United States and the EU in which he would step down, did not improve anyone’s mood in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Washington, London or Brussels – not to mention the opposition on the streets.  But, then, arranging for his armed supporters to surround the foreign delegation resulting in the UAE ambassador to fly home in a rage was monumentally stupid.

What is it about these petty little rulers who believe that their position is an entitlement?  This is like Africa – Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cote d”Ivoire come immediately to mind.  In the case of Yemen, Saleh is now saying that if he steps down then al Qaeda will fill his shoes.  Does he think his powerful friends are blind?  Yemen has several tribal conflicts going on some of which al Qaeda finds advantageous to promote.  However, estimates are that there are about 300 al Qaeda operatives in the country out of a population of 23 million.  That’s hardly a takeover threshold and the number of supporters he ordered out into the streets yesterday could easily handle the miserable gang of terrorists hiding out in the mountains.
Just as the GCC under Saudi command entered Bahrain to crush the (quite legitimate) rebellion in that kingdom, perhaps they can balance the scales and just remove Saleh now that he has shown that he is incapable of rational behavior and is a destabilizing influence in the region.

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