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US pulls support for Yemen leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Posted by on April 4, 2011 1 Comment

The US Government is dropping its support for Yemen’s embattled president and is helping negotiate his departure, a newspaper reported today, citing US and Yemeni officials.

Washington has long supported President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, and the administration of President Barack Obama has largely refrained from criticising him in public.

But US officials have told allies that they see Mr Saleh’s position as untenable due to the widespread protests, and believe he should leave office.

Negotiations over Mr Saleh’s departure began more than a week ago, The New York Times reports.

The talks centre on a proposal for Mr Saleh to surrender power to a provisional government under his vice-president until there can be new elections. That principle “is not in dispute”, an unnamed Yemeni official told the US newspaper, but the timing has to be worked out.

Washington’s goal is for the US conterterrorism operation in Yemen to remain unaffected, the Times reported.

The ongoing clashes between Mr Saleh and the protesters “has had a direct adverse impact on the security situation throughout the country”, an unnamed US official told the Times.

“Groups of various stripes – al-Qaeda, Houthis, tribal elements, and secessionists – are exploiting the current political turbulence and emerging fissures within the military and security services for their own gain,,” the official told the newspaper.

“Until President Saleh is able to resolve the current political impasse by announcing how and when he will follow through on his earlier commitment to take tangible steps to meet opposition demands, the security situation in Yemen is at risk of further deterioration,” the US official said.

Yemeni police today killed an anti-regime protester and wounded scores more on, medics and witnesses said, as Mr Saleh called for an end to protests demanding that he step down.

The protestor’s death took the toll to nearly 100 from the crackdown on protests that erupted in the Arabian Peninsula country in late January, according to international human rights watchdogs. Agencies

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