Yemen power struggle as wounded president flees
Published 06/06/2011 | 05:00
A THIRD Arab nation was on the verge of overthrowing a long-serving dictator last night as Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was flown abroad for medical treatment after an attack on his palace.
A power struggle was under way among loyalists and opposition rivals after the forced departure of its wounded president left the country facing potential civil war.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has held office for 33 years, underwent an operation in Riyadh to remove shrapnel from his chest following an artillery attack on his palace in the capital Sana'a last Friday. He was also expected to undergo plastic surgery for burns to his face and neck.
Activists behind the Arab Spring movement that has inspired protests and toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia celebrated a third scalp.
Although there was jubilation on the streets of Sana'a, the president's departure has created a dangerous political vacuum as powerful tribal chiefs and his family prepare to battle for power.
Under the constitution, Mr Saleh's forced absence should mean that power is transferred, at least temporarily, to Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, his Sandhurst-educated deputy, who held talks yesterday with military commanders and the US ambassador to Yemen.
But the vice-president has always played a peripheral role in Yemeni politics and is seen as an unsustainable choice to lead so volatile a country.
Despite his injuries and absence, Mr Saleh is resisting international efforts to force him to resign.
The crisis has left Saudi Arabia trying to formulate a plan that would bring some stability to its neighbour. (© Daily Telegraph, London)