September 19, 2011

Yemen’s Endless “One Week”


As expected, mass demonstrations following Sunday’s massacre in Sana’a gave way to another slaughter on Monday. This inevitability couldn’t be clearer to millions of Yemenis and the many non-Yemenis attempting to aid their cause, but the international community is keeping its eyes closed. The Western media is now spinning the “everyone ignored Yemen” angle - failing to include themselves in the mix - and the international community has chosen a decidedly nonchalant response.

With Ali Abdullah Saleh meeting King Abdullah in Riyadh - Saleh would “renew his thanks” for his “brotherly sincere attitude” - the Obama administration released a clone of Thursday’s statement from the State Department. “Regretting” the loss of life that it “encouraged” by condoning Yemen’s violence, the administration “called on all parties to exercise restraint,” an overt attempt to deflect blame from the regime. The White House also “rejects actions that undermine productive efforts underway to achieve a political resolution to the current crisis.”

First, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative and its immunity clause enables the wave of violence being committed against Yemen’s protesters. In giving Saleh more time to stall, the White House guaranteed that he would undermine the GCC’s proposal, which he has never sincerely agreed to sign. Second, Yemen isn’t experiencing a “political crisis” but a full-blow revolution, and both the revolutionaries and JMP have now severed any further dialogue with Saleh’s regime.

Unfortunately Washington and Riyadh still want Yemen’s situation to end on their terms, as they have become incompatible with the revolutionaries. One Western diplomat in Sana'a told AFP that “the signing of a U.N. roadmap which sets a mechanism for the transfer of power from embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh hands to his deputy was scheduled for later Monday.” Monday, of course, has already passed in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s time-zone. The Obama administration also copied Saleh’s stall tactics by introducing the endless “one week,” declaring, “We remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached that leads to the signing of the GCC Initiative within one week.”

After hoping for a signature one week from Thursday, the White House is apparently set to continue moving the goalpost as Saleh resists “U.S. pressure.” A long week looms over Yemen.

Given that the administration's new statement wasn’t actually endorsed by President Barack Obama, and that the White House ignored Yemen during its Monday briefing (add redundancy from the State Department), the administration ultimately responded to Yemen’s bloodshed with as little comment as possible. Off in Geneva, America’s first Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council was also busy condoning the regime with deceptively harsh rhetoric. The UNHRC had been summoned to hear a recent mission report on Yemen’s human rights abuses, and Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe made sure to condemn the “excessive force used against peaceful protesters and civilians.”

Noticeably absent from Donahoe’s prepared remarks is the UNHRC’s request for an impartial investigation, which could lead to a probe of U.S. military support for Saleh’s regime. And the natural outcome of his brutality is, “an immediate, peaceful and orderly transition that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people and bring those responsible for crimes committed against peaceful protestors and other civilians to justice.”

How those responsible for the current crime wave can be brought to justice remains unexplained; the GCC’s immunity clause puts Donahoe in direct contradiction with her own statements. Not that Washington actually concerns itself with its hypocrisy. The Obama administration is already negotiating with a murderer, not the legitimate president of Yemen.

Whether sooner or later, both are likely to be caught by the revolutionaries.

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