Saleh Faced With New Deal to Step Down

Hundreds of thousands protest as Washington shows renewed support for transfer of power to Saleh's deputy

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh will consider new talks on a transfer of leadership that includes him surrendering his power to his deputy, while still retaining his title. Vice President Abduraboo Mansur Hadi, Washington’s preferred replacement dictator, would ostensibly take control if Saleh agrees to the plan.

The news comes as hundreds of thousands of Yemenis participated Friday in mass demonstrations in the capital, Sanaa, and at least 17 other cities and towns, all protesting Saleh’s remaining grip on power in Yemen.

The proposed deal would protect Saleh from prosecution of his many crimes as leader of Yemen, but protest organizer Abdel Handi al-Azazi said that if Saleh does indeed return, the protest movement will push to have him put on trial.

Still, skepticism is warranted. Multiple previous instances of near certain agreement by Saleh on a transfer of power all ended in last minute objections. Each of these previous deals failed immediately after.

Gerald Feierstein, U.S. ambassador to Yemen has met with Vice President Hadi 12 to 15 times since Saleh left for Saudi Arabia and has emphasized Washington’s full support and confidence in him as a replacement of Saleh. Indications that he will be any less brutal a dictator are not forthcoming.

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