I had an interesting discussion with an analyst friend of mine when the story about Saleh trying to mediate the Palestinian crisis first broke earlier this month. He didn’t understand what Yemen could possibly offer the Palestinian factions…especially with Saleh facing so much crisis at home. I pointed out that it actually makes a lot of sense. Yemen is one of the only Arab countries where the Islamists have a significant amount of power…in fact, Ahmar is perhaps even more powerful than Saleh. The GPC and Islah have a considerable history together, ever since unification, and actually work together in a relatively amical manner with a powersharing deal that has provided regime stability until now. My point is, this thing is not altogether nuts.
As for why Saleh would pursue an international agenda at a time of domestic crisis…thats should be obvious. The Saleh and the GPC have one issue on thier “platform” – Unity. By bringing the Palestinian factions together, Saleh is reaffirming his image as a unifier. The sight of their president in such a high profile issue on the world stage will play a concerto on the Yemeni heartstrings of national pride. It would serve as a fantastic deterrent to domestic turmoil. The word “Palestine” has been a reliable touchstone Arab leaders can always fall back on to mobilize support and change the subject. This is just a derivative of the now automatic reaction to the Palestinian cause. This is Wag-the-Dog in reverse…don’t start a war…start peace.
Saleh himself loves to brag about the “democracy” he has created in Yemen…if he adds this to his resume his head might explode.
SANA’A, (Saba)- Chairman of Fatah bloc at the Palestinian Legislative Council Azzam al-Ahmed arrived here on Friday as envoy of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to submit a letter to President Ali Abdullah Saleh from Abbas.The letter deals with the present Palestinian situations under the mounting Israeli aggression as well as the Yemeni initiative to resolve the inter-Palestinian crisis.Speaking to Saba, al-Ahmed stated that he would hold talks with a number of Yemeni officials over all fields and means to boost them. – SABA