In the past few blogs on Yemen, I have mainly described a rather pessimistic outlook for Yemen, enumerating the reasons why I felt so. In the most recent blog I stated "Yemen has the misfortune of long, common borders with Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, which dreads the establishment of any form of true democracy across that border, especially a country as populous as Yemen." That has not changed, and is not likely to change after the accession of Prince Naef bin Saud to the position of crown prince, since he is not known as a champion of change.
But the other major player is obviously the United States, which has erroneously considered Saleh and his son Ahmad the bulwark of resistance against al-Qaeda, and its allies who allowed it to use its drones at will, and even offered to cover up these drone attacks.
Since the uprising of the Yemeni resistance, there have been numerous meetings between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her counterpart Dr. Abubakr Al-Qirbi, at which the latter has been feeding her the official line of his president. Dr. Al-Qirbi is a very suave, sophisticated, well-informed physician, with great command of English, having gone to school in the British colony of Aden, and to medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I studied medicine too, starting three years ahead of him. Over a period of time, diplomats, like all humans, develop trust and even friendship, which can be used or abused to influence opinions and hence decisions in politics. It is to his credit that Dr. Al-Qirbi has been such an effective ambassador for Ali Abdulla Saleh. But it is equally to the misfortune and detriment of the Yemeni nation, which is desperately trying to achieve freedom and democracy, for which it has paid with the lives of hundreds of its youth.
Enter Tawakkol Karman, the hijab-wearing Nobel Laureate, about whom the whole world has been raving. I watched the very brief statement to the press, by her and Clinton. The latter has probably heard, for the first time ever, the truth about what is happening in Yemen; and it is safe to say that the report and opinion she heard from Tawakkol Karman is very different from the broken record of Al-Qirbi, namely that Saleh is quite willing to step aside, but only according to the constitution. By that he means in two years from now, by which time his son Ahmad should be more than ready and able to step into his shoes.
If you have not seen the video recording of the Clinton-Karman statement, take a look at the body language between those two women: warm, friendly, genuine, with Karman's left hand on Hillary's right shoulder, and watch that chummy exit, holding hands. That is something you cannot artificially put on, not even if you are a politician. If I were Ali Abdulla Saleh, I would be extremely worried!
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