Yemen: Tipping the Scale
A short time ago, it was announced that Islamic militants have taken control of the Yemeni city of Zinjibar. Confirming the fears of many throughout the world who feared that the Arab Spring revolutions could lead to Iran-esque Islamic takeovers, this action prompted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to bomb the region, citing the need for stability should he eventually step down from power.
This military takeover comes as a shock to many; not only does it confirm the fears of the Western powers who see that Yemen could become the next Iran or Afghanistan, but it essentially eliminates all sources of hope for those Yemenis who desire democratic reforms, not Islamic fundamentalism. Yemen does not have a great amount of oil and is not a regional power; however, should it fall completely to radical Islam, the region and the world would be rocked by the repercussions. However, like the situations in almost all of the Middle East, little is certain. Will Saleh abdicate his position? If so, will the country be swamped in a wave of violent Islamic militancy? And, should he not step down, will a Libya-esque civil war ensue?
It was two and a half months ago that Ali Abdullah Saleh first declared that he would step down from power. Amid the turmoil in the region at that point, it looked like Saleh was genuinely attempting to do the best thing for his people. However, several months later, Saleh remains in power, and with incidents such as the bombing of Zinjibar, one must wonder if he ever actually intends to give up his rule. In April, Saleh agreed to a deal in which he would leave his position in 30 days in order to receive diplomatic immunity for himself and his family. However, Saleh has continued to put up roadblocks in the process. One must wonder if today's events are simply another one.
"We call on President Saleh to stop the fighting and answer the demand of the Yemeni people for an immediate and urgent abdication of power" (Al Jazeera English). Indeed, the international pressure demanding the removal of Saleh from power is growing every day. Facing condemnation from the G8 and the world, Saleh may see the threat of Al-Qaeda and terrorism as his only opportunity to remain in power. By using events such as the Islamic militant takeover of Zinjibar as evidence, Saleh may argue that should he leave power, his nation will fall into chaos and could easily fall under the control of Islamic fundamentalists.Continued on the next page