Saturday, June 4, 2011

The great manipulator

The picture offered by street vendors in Sanaa by 150 riyals (half a euro) shows a Ali Abdullah Saleh martial all gallons of quarterback. On the left, in the background, his son Ahmed, also in military uniform, smiling behind sunglasses. "Unity is my pride," reads a brief text at the bottom. And for years Saleh has been presented as the only one capable of preserving a united Yemen's rebellion against the tribes and the secession of the south.

Had no doubt that his son took over. Until a popular movement inspired by the riots in Tunisia and Egypt have brought on the road. It was a long way from that in 1978, as a young officer, then became president of North Yemen, ending two decades of civil war. To the surprise of his fellow soldiers, who accepted his appointment believing malleable, beating revealed that his two predecessors, who were killed.

"Ruling Yemen is like dancing with snakes," he often says to his visitors. In 1990 he hung another medal to reunify the country, taking advantage of the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the South was left without its main sponsor. Then agreed to share power with leaders of Aden, to establish a multiparty system for parliamentary elections three years later.

Dissatisfaction with the results led southerners to take up arms in 1994. Saleh ruthlessly crushed the insurrection. But the recovery was through diplomatic channels a Yemeni island in the hands of Eritrea which earned him that Parliament appointed a Marshal. At 68, Saleh has become the longest-President has been leading the country and one of the oldest in the world.

Two factors have contributed to: the ability to manipulate one group against another and the system of patronage with which he ruled. The first he has kept the country in a state of controlled chaos that made him seem indispensable. The second has purchased and distributed charges loyalties between family and faithful.

Both have agreed that now encourages corruption protests. On 23 April, the president and the opposition approved the plan of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, for a peaceful transfer of power, although opponents did not trust that Saleh was leaving office and have continued to be expressed.

In recent days the situation has escalated to the verge of civil war. On Friday June 3, Saleh was injured in an attack on his palace, which killed seven soldiers. Many of the problems that Saleh has faced are the result of their own policies. His history of flirtation with Islamic extremists in search of political support is clearly responsible for both Huthi rebellion in the north, and the presence of Al Qaeda in Yemeni soil.

In the nineties of last century, encouraged Saleh Zaidi Shia minority (to which he belongs) to do with the advance of Salafism. Eventually, the militia led by Huthi clan members (hence the name), he got out of hand. Similarly, welcomed the Arab mujahideen who fought against the USSR in Afghanistan and used them to defeat the Southern rebels in the civil war in 1994.

However, from the attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole in 2000, became a headache. After the 11-S, Saleh traveled to Washington even feared that the U.S. would bomb his country. But his commitment to the fight against terrorism has been less ambiguous, as revealed by Wikileaks leaks. Busy in the game of divide and conquer, Saleh has had little time or little desire to invest in the development of the poorest corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

As population increased and decreased oil revenues discovered two decades ago, has also been left without resources to continue co-opting the tribes, and signs indicate that his ability to dance with snakes will not be enough to avoid their bite.

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