With Saleh and the opposition escalating their war of political attrition, the U.S. could have a role in preventing civil war -- or risk turning Yemen's opposition parties against us
It is a dangerous time in Yemen for the United States. On Sunday, armed thugs loyal to faltering president Ali Abdullah Saleh marched on the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Sanaa, where diplomats were preparing for the signing ceremony of the Gulf Cooperation Council deal that they hoped would resolve the ongoing political crisis between Saleh's government and the protests sweeping the country. The diplomats, who included the U.S., British, and European Union ambassadors, were trapped inside for two hours before being evacuated by helicopter. Earlier this month, documents purportedly from the Saleh government authorizing the arming of political supporters leaked and were published online.
After being evacuated, the delegation of national ambassadors and GCC Secretary General Abdul Latif al Zayyani met with Saleh at the presidential palace, where he had announced that he would be willing to sign the GCC-brokered agreement, after backing out on two previous occasions. Under the conditions of the agreement, all protests would cease, a new unity government would be put in place, and Saleh would tender his resignation to parliament within one month and new elections would be held. Instead, in a televised statement, Saleh warned of civil war if protests persisted. He then refused to sign the reconciliation deal, imposing new conditions for his signature.