Monday, June 6, 2011

Crumbling power base will struggle to survive this crisis

Pundits ask if the power vacuum will lead to civil war, but there has always been a vacuum of power in Yemen

By Patrick Cockburn

"Has the end finally come for President Ali Abdullah Saleh after nearly 33 years in power? Will he ever return from Saudi Arabia where he was rushed for treatment for his injuries a day after an explosion in a mosque in the presidential palace?

The crowds celebrating the end of President Saleh's rule in the capital, Sanaa, yesterday are probably right that he is finished, though he has shown extraordinary determination over the last four months to cling to office......

The US, also a long-term ally of the old regime, is looking for a smooth transition. The Vice-President, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who constitutionally takes over from the head of state when he is out of the country, saw the US ambassador in Sanaa yesterday.

The transition to a post-Saleh government will be more fraught than it would have been if it had taken place when the protests began. Since then violence has increased and there are many soldiers and gunmen on opposing sides who might decide to fight it out. The peaceful protesters have also been pushed to one side by opposition tribal leaders, led by Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashid tribal federation, and the military leaders who defected to the opposition. "

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