CNN reported that the injured, exiled President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, would return to the country as early as tomorrow. Saleh’s senior adviser Ahmed Al-Soufi made the statement. But the State Department was unaware of any return, and the Pakistani news outlet Dawn contradicted this earlier in the week.
Wounded Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is “well” but the date of his return from hospital in Saudi Arabia cannot be confirmed, the deputy information minister said on Tuesday, as there were conflicting reports on the embattled leader’s health.
“We have no confirmation yet” on the date of Saleh’s return from Riyadh, where he is being treated for wounds suffered when a bomb exploded as he prayed at his palace mosque earlier this month, “but we assume he’ll be back within the few coming days,” Abdo al-Janadi told AFP.
“He is constantly in contact with the vice president (Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi) and he is well. His wounds are of no source of worry,” said Janadi.
Saleh “is now undergoing plastic surgery from the burns he had suffered in the attack.” But an informed Yemeni source in Riyadh said Saleh, who has not been seen in public since the attack, is still in the intensive care unit at a military hospital.
“His condition has not improved. He is still at the intensive care unit and nobody can see him,” the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Obviously, conflicting reports, and it’s difficult to discern the motivations here. It all feels like a false rumor, but it’s unclear why Saleh’s advisors would risk their credibility to claim that Saleh was on the verge of return if nothing happens tomorrow. But Yemen is often an impenetrable place.
What we do know is this: Saleh’s return to Yemen will trigger a civil war. Leading tribal chieftains have made that clear, and the protesters are clearly willing to fight in the event of Saleh’s return. In fact, sporadic fighting continues now, despite an official cease-fire. Yemeni security and tribesman have battled in Taiz most of the week.
Saleh was struck by a blast, now thought to be a bomb planted in his palace, earlier this month. The attack came amidst the fiercest fighting between pro-government loyalists and tribesmen. Saleh left for Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment and has not been heard from since.
He is believed to be suffering from shrapnel wounds, broken bones, smoke inhalation, internal bleeding and extensive burns.
Seven people were killed in the incident, while Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar and at least two other senior officials were also seriously injured.
Western diplomats have been helping the Yemeni authorities to investigate the attack and have confirmed that a large quantity of the high explosive TNT had been placed inside the mosque where President Saleh attended Friday prayers.
The US government, meanwhile, despite lip service to the idea that Yemen must become more democratic and progressive, has thrown in its lot with whoever wins out, as long as we get to park our drones there.
A senior U.S. diplomat pushing for a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen said Thursday that whichever side emerges from the four-month political crisis to lead the nation will cooperate with Washington in battling Yemen’s al-Qaida branch [...]
In talks with government officials and opposition figures seeking the president’s ouster, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffery Feltman said all expressed an understanding of Washington’s concerns about Yemen’s al-Qaida branch, which has an estimated 300 fighters and has carried out several nearly successful strikes on U.S. targets.
“Everyone gave us some assurances that they are concerned about al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,” Feltman said. “Any government is going to be a strong partner. They are committed to work with us in fighting terrorism.”
So high-minded talk about the Arab uprising and Democratic participation has given way to “call us back when you have a functioning government so we can start our drone war again.”