The Obama administration has agreed to a request from Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to travel to America, framing it in a thinly veiled excuse for him to seek medical treatment.
Mr. Saleh said on Saturday he would leave Yemen for the U.S. “in the coming days… to get out of sight… to calm the atmosphere for the unity government to hold the presidential election” in February. But he has also said he would return later as “an opposition figure.”
The erratic behavior has been characteristic of Saleh since he signed a peace deal last month which was pushed by the U.S. and the Gulf states. In the agreement, Saleh would hand power to his deputy and leave government entirely by February in return for immunity for the crimes he has committed while on U.S. support.
But the deal has so far proved to be a farce, as many see Saleh still as acting dictator of Yemen and the thousands of reform-minded Yemenis protesting in the streets have been demanding Saleh not just step down, but face trial. This in the midst of continuing U.S. aid and rhetorical support for the government’s violence repression.