Policy Shift

U.S. Wants Yemen President Out

Looks like another Mideast friend is about to get dumped: Officials have confirmed that the U.S. has backed off its support of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has stood as a lone bulwark against the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda, because he will likely fail to deliver the reforms his uneasy citizens are demanding. Gunmen linked to Saleh’s government killed 50 anti-regime protesters on March 18, which started talks between American and Yemeni officials about a negotiated transition from power. Since then, there has been a flurry of high-level government defections, and Saleh’s supporters have continued to fire on protesters. Though they have not publicly called for Saleh’s ouster, U.S. officials said privately that they no longer believe his presidency is tenable and that it’s time for him to go. It is not clear whether the U.S. is negotiating safe passage for Saleh and his family to another country, but the talks appear to be going in that direction. Washington’s primary goal is to arrange a transfer of power that would allow U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Yemen to continue.