Yemen’s President Steps Down


Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to step down from office following the protests, riots and disorder in Yemen during the Arab Spring movement. The deal, which was signed on Wednesday, November 24, states that President Saleh will leave office in 30 days, paving the way for the vice-president to negotiate power transfers.

Multiple news sources, including Al Jazeera and CNN covered Saleh’s major announcement. CNN stated that Saleh’s departure marks him as the “fourth Arab leader forced from power this year,” although Al Jazeera explains that the deal Saleh signed designates him the “honorary title of president, yet his deputy is expected to form and preside a national unity government before presidential elections.”

CNN doesn’t hint of any unrest among Yemeni citizens, only of the uncertainty of Saleh’s decision. They remark that this is not the first time he has planned to step down, only to change his mind. Many people are suspicious that he may do the same thing.

But will Saleh still continue to hold political power behind the scenes? Al Jazeera reports that his “family members continue to have powerful posts in the military and intelligence service, and it is unclear how much political power Saleh will have.” In addition, Saleh has many political supporters of his own, people who have stood by him and fought against the opposition for him.

However, in an interview with France 24, CNN explains that Saleh reportedly said “I know the difficulties, the negatives, the positives; I will not hang on to power. Whoever hangs on to power I think is crazy.”

Many Yemenis who oppose Saleh say this deal is not enough for them, and they are not satisfied with the current political state. Many have gathered to protest his immunity from legal repercussions, as well as the political power he continues to hold.

Al Jazeera presents the opinions and concerns of the Yemeni people, while CNN does not. The story from Al Jazeera provides more information and a different view point than CNN. I personally feel as if CNN simply reported that President Saleh was stepping down, and continued on to explain that he was the fourth of the Arab leaders to be forced out of office. While this is indeed important, it is also necessary to discuss the unrest and turmoil in Yemen following Saleh’s decision, as Al Jazeera did.


About middleeastcommentary

As an Associate Professor in Electronic Media Communication at Middle Tennessee State University, I teach courses in Media in the Middle East, among other courses analyzing media. I also produce media -- a recent documentary on the Kurds of Northern Iraq "More than the Mountains: Kurdistan of Iraq" produced following two trips to Iraq in 2005 and 2008.
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2 Responses to Yemen’s President Steps Down

  1. I like that you brought up that Al Jazeera gives the opinions of the people actually in Yemen while CNN is only stating facts about Saleh stepping down from office. Part of America’s problem in it’s coverage of places like the Middle East, especially during this Arab Spring, is that news outlets do not have enough reporters over there or even a satellite location staffed with locals. I think a lot of Americans are interested in the Arab Spring but would care more if news stories were more focused on individual people this movement is affecting rather than just reporting hard news when leaders step down.

    I also liked how you questioned whether Saleh would continue to hold power. Even though he says someone would be crazy to still hold power, should anyone put it past him to at least try to keep some power? I think with the Arab Spring who holds power behind the scenes is definitely something news outlets should look into after more countries hold elections. Will the new, democratic governments be holding power or will the ousted rulers be controlling them?

  2. Megan, The Guardian (UK paper) did a follow-up story soon after the announcement and point out that little about the basic structure of the government will change — merely the leader will step down. The article also points out that an UN resolution calling on him to go may have spurred his decision since it would likely be followed by economic sanctions or the threat by the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) of a block on personal funds (since so many middle east leaders have accumulated massive fortunes). Also the GCC promised him immunity from charges stemming from violent reprisals against anti government demonstrators. This report also points out that Saleh’s relatives still hold positions of power and might cause trouble, which could set the stage for him to return.

    “At the same time, Saleh’s numerous relatives continue to hold key positions from where they can manipulate the strings on his behalf.

    If his relatives start causing trouble again – as they did during his absence after the bomb attack – Saleh will claim his country needs him again, because he is the only person who can rein them in. Even at this late stage, a further comeback attempt by Saleh cannot be ruled out.”


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