Long-time Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh dismissed the notion that his retreat to Saudi Arabia for surgery was a permanent move, insisting he would return to the country “within days” and intended to retain power.
The nation’s interim ruler Major General Hadi confirmed that this was the case, saying Saleh’s health had “greatly improved.” The president fled the country after being wounded in an attack on Friday, and had surgery over the weekend.
Saleh’s impending return immediately throws into doubt the ceasefire between regime troops and the tribal forces led by Sheikh Ahmar. The deal was no doubt based on the assumption of Saleh’s ouster, and if he manages to return the situation is likely to resume.
The Obama Administration, for its part, called for an “immediate transition” of power to Maj. Gen. Hadi, who they’ve previously suggested was their preferred post-Saleh ruler. Officials said it was vital because of the threat of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which took over some small towns in the southwest. The pro-democracy protesters are unlikely to look kindly on a new military ruler, however.