By Laura Kasinof and Nada Bakri, New York Times, February 2, 2011
SANA, Yemen — President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen said Wednesday that he would not run for re-election when his term ends in 2013. The announcement was a stunning concession to protesters and another reverberation of the popular anger that has rocked the Arab world in recent weeks.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh addressed the parliament in Sanaa on Wednesday and said he will not extend his presidency beyond 2013.
Mr. Saleh, an American ally who has been in office for 32 years, said that his eldest son, Ahmed, who heads the elite Republican Guard, would not seek the presidency either. Opponents of the government had feared that Mr. Saleh would try to pass power to his son.
The announcement came a day before planned protests in Sana, the capital, and other districts in Yemen. Last week, the country witnessed the largest demonstrations of Mr. Saleh’s tenure, and organizers said they expected an even higher turnout on Thursday.
Yet even as opposition leaders met to prepare their official response to the president’s announcement, the government moved to try to stage-manage Thursday’s events by helping rural Yemenis from the outskirts of Sana, the capital, and from the pro-Saleh province of Khowlan to travel to the city for counter-protests. About 500 pro-government people had already gathered in a central square in Sana on Wednesday, setting up large white tents with the intention of holding the square through the night.
It will take all of the intellectual, emotional, poltical and international talents, skills, learnings and political persuasion of all of the leaders of the U.S. government to continue to manage this extraordinarily complex and fast-moving tragedy of epic proportions.
First, Tunisia, and the Jordan and then Egypt and now Yemen....Is it only a matter of time when Syria and Saudi Arabia and perhaps Lebanon start to march in behind those in the forefront of this parade of Middle Eastern States?