If there is one piece of advice that must be said today to those responsible for a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen and the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whether they are the Yemenis, Saudis, or even the Americans, it is the need not to give specific deadlines for the signing ceremony to relinquish power.
With each announcement that President Ali Abdullah Saleh intends to sign an agreement transferring power, according to the Gulf initiative or otherwise, matters take a turn for the worse in Yemen, and there is a dangerous escalation on the street. There are many beneficiaries from this, whether from the presidential department, or even from the opposition in all its forms. Here someone would ask, how? It is clear that the opposition whenever it felt that the moment of signing was imminent, would mobilize on the streets of Yemen. This was as if to show that Saleh’s anticipated signing was the result of public pressure, despite that being the reality. There are several indicators of this, the latest being what happened in Yemen yesterday, in terms of clashes and killings, following media leaks from Yemeni and Saudi sources saying that Saleh would authorize his deputy to sign the Gulf initiative within ten days. Whilst the opposition engage in this venture and escalate matters, there are also those within the camp of the President who are doing likewise. There are many who would be adversely affected by Saleh stepping down, especially those controlling the reins of power on the ground that still have many keys in their hands, most notably the security keys.
The situation in Yemen is dangerous not because of what is unknown, but rather because of what is known but no one knows when will happen. Everyone is aware that there has been an intrinsic change Yemen, and President Saleh cannot continue as he was. Thus, there are those who will be affected by him stepping down. They are trying to prolong his time, or boost his opportunities on the ground or even abroad if he is forced to leave Yemen, which is likely to be the case. These tactics have been met with inflamed sentiments from the opposition, and this is expected and normal. There are people trying to stoke these sentiments, let alone those from other parties, both foreign and domestic, who are eagerly anticipating the transfer of power in Yemen, such as the Huthis and al-Qaeda domestically and Iran externally. Therefore the most dangerous thing for Yemen today is the timing, and playing for time.
It is not in the interests of anyone today to continue in the game of media leaks, and to say that President Saleh will sign in a matter of days or weeks, for the simple reason that there are many waiting to spoil this anticipated moment. Therefore the advice for everyone concerned with the Yemeni issue, and the peaceful transfer of power there, is to deliver news regarding the transfer of power in Yemen in accordance with the following formula: The President has signed, not he the President will sign. Yemen on the whole today is on the brink of an explosion, and cannot afford any delay or postponement. It is dangerous for the game of media statements to grow, especially with inflamed sentiments, hands on triggers, and stakeholders believing that their lives and possessions are in jeopardy.
Please, when dealing with the issue of the transfer of power in Yemen, say he signed, not he will sign.