Friday, August 19, 2011

Ali Saleh… When He Speaks

By Zuheir Kseibati
Opportunists, bandits, thieves who stole the revolution, beneficiaries, Marxist remnants, war traders, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Salafi elements, brainless people with chronic diseases who are mutilating Islam…
All of the latter are quite simply the oppositionists of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who - as soon as the reports circulated in regard to his recent submission to Western pressures and especially American ones to transfer power - chose to break the good news to his supporters and tell them he will soon finish his treatment in Saudi Arabia and return to Sana’a.
Saleh is always announcing he does not want power and is not insisting on it. But his random attacks against all the opposition movements in Yemen while he is still abroad provoked those who – a few days ago – detected signs of “modesty” in the president after he miraculously survived the explosion which targeted the presidential palace’s mosque and underwent numerous surgeries.
The “ascetic” president is promising his supporters he will return, not to run in elections to ensure the extension of his term, but to salvage “constitutional legitimacy” from the fanatics of “coups”. Whoever listens to Ali Saleh would almost believe that Yemen’s entire crisis is mere misleading exercised by the “traditional” opposition and the youth. And when he adds the talk about the political money “pumped by international powers,” the characteristics of the “conspiracy” become complete with international funding to “hijack” the revolution and topple “constitutional legitimacy.” But what is left for Yemen without a rule or a revolution?
While the literature of the president who miraculously exited the rubble of the explosion is extensively tackling this incredible alliance between Marxists, Taliban elements, Salafis, Nasseris and Reformists (from the Yemeni Congregation for Reform), that same alliance was joined by Al-Qaeda in Zinjibar!
The unhappy Yemen toward what was produced by bitter months of divisions in the military and tribal ranks is back to square one, in parallel to the surprise of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s escalation and mobilization of the tribes against each other to prevent the birth of a “national transitional council.” Nonetheless, this step was also delayed under international and especially American pressures in the hope that the president would sign the Gulf initiative and surrender power.
Ali Saleh’s recorded speech to confuse his oppositionists - a few hours before the proclamation of the council - eliminated all doubts and featured escalatory expressions leading all the sides back to square one. Moreover, the president did not lose the ability to plant the seeds of conflict between the Hashid and Bakil tribes, in light of all that was said about the “secret” articles of a settlement that would stop Yemen’s collapse and slide toward civil war. And while Ali Saleh’s supporters considered the formation of the “transitional council” as being a merciful killing of the Gulf initiative, all his opponents perceived his ongoing refusal to “surrender power to the opportunists” and his insistence on the staging of early elections as being a continuous depletion of the opposition and an attempt to create division between it and the “duped” revolutionary youth.
Hence, Yemen will remain trapped between two trenches – that of the wounded “constitutional legitimacy” in light of the explosion that targeted the presidential mosque, and that of popular legitimacy as it was dubbed by the oppositionists when they joined the revolution. It is worth mentioning at this level that some of the latter were among the most prominent allies of the regime, namely the Yemeni Congregation for Reform whose leaders and sheikhs are now considered by Ali Saleh as being “claimants of Islam.”
Some among the Yemenis perceive Muammar al-Gaddafi’s senseless acts and insane stubbornness in dealing with NATO and the revolutionaries and the expansion of the military option on the Syrian domestic arena – despite the disastrous losses – as being a source of encouragement to the Yemeni president to stand fast and rely on time. However, no one in Sana’a or abroad can speculate about the outcome of the incitement of confrontation between Yemen’s tribes following the preliminary testing of the street by street option and the lifting by the presidential guards of their weapons in the face of those who were the protectors of the regime for many years.
The wall of trust with Ali Saleh cannot be mended. This was said by the oppositionists who – a few months ago – succumbed to the revolution of the street in the hope it would rid them of the lost game with a regime that has always mastered the subjugation of its opponents. Today, it is speaking about dialogue, as though only they were responsible for the blood swamps.
And between a “constitutional legitimacy” claiming to be wise and pure, a “misled” innocent revolution and the “bandit” politicians, Yemen is remaining in the same location, i.e. at the top of the volcano of strife.
-This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 18/08/2011
-Zuheir Kseibati is the managing editor of al-Hayat in Beirut

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