Endgame for Saleh?

One-man Yemen media empire Oliver Holmes is reporting in both Time and the Wall Street Journal that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in talks with his country’s opposition on a set of demands that would have him stepping down within this year. The Time report had initially suggested that Saleh has agreed to a ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Marcel Mettelsiefen/Getty Images
Marcel Mettelsiefen/Getty Images
Marcel Mettelsiefen/Getty Images

One-man Yemen media empire Oliver Holmes is reporting in both Time and the Wall Street Journal that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in talks with his country's opposition on a set of demands that would have him stepping down within this year. The Time report had initially suggested that Saleh has agreed to a proposal that he step down within nine months, but it's now not clear if that was the same proposal he had agreed to. Saleh, in power since 1978, had previously agreed to step down when his current term ends in 2013, but that concession did little to prevent the protests against his regime from worsening.  

Here's Holmes' description of the current state of play from the WSJ:

A government official said Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh found "common ground" late Wednesday with members of Yemen's opposition, who earlier in the day had presented a list of demands that called for the president's departure.

One-man Yemen media empire Oliver Holmes is reporting in both Time and the Wall Street Journal that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in talks with his country’s opposition on a set of demands that would have him stepping down within this year. The Time report had initially suggested that Saleh has agreed to a proposal that he step down within nine months, but it’s now not clear if that was the same proposal he had agreed to. Saleh, in power since 1978, had previously agreed to step down when his current term ends in 2013, but that concession did little to prevent the protests against his regime from worsening.  

Here’s Holmes’ description of the current state of play from the WSJ:

A government official said Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh found "common ground" late Wednesday with members of Yemen’s opposition, who earlier in the day had presented a list of demands that called for the president’s departure.

"The plan proposed to the ruling party was favorably received," the official said following the meeting. "It is working on a formal response."

The official said he couldn’t comment on whether the plan involves a departure date for the president. Opposition members familiar with the meeting couldn’t immediately be reached.

Saleh also apparently apologized for any "misunderstandings" that may have been caused by his recent remarks suggesting that the U.S. and Israel are behind the Arab world’s unrest. Here’s the statement in question: 

"There is a control room working for the media and you know where it is — in Tel Aviv," Saleh said live on state television. "These events are managed by the White House.

"We hear statements from President (Barack) Obama asking the Egyptians to do this, telling the Tunisians to do that," Saleh said. "Are you the president of the United States or the president of the Arab world?"

A control room in Tel Aviv? Not really sure how much room there is for misunderstanding there. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.