By: Fakhri al-Arashi NY
While shelling and fighting intensified at the capital city of Sana’a, loyalists of President Saleh celebrated the arrival of President Saleh early Friday morning after the arrival of their injured President from three months of medical leave. Many celebrated by shooting their weapons into the sky. The arrival of the president was surprising and unexpected to millions of Yemeni people.
At the same time, the opposition parties and youth at the change square expressed their disappointment of his return by saying that they consider his arrival a threat to the message of the revolution.
The return of Saleh was officially announced by national satellite TV. The president announced, “I return home with peaceful doves and olives leaves in my hand and vow not to take revenge or follow my enemies. I desire to see peace and development in my country.”
Saleh also called all the parties in Yemen to meet and agree upon a ceasefire for a chance to seek dialogue and a safe exit from the current crises. Many observers see a wide range of different opinions regarding the return of Saleh. Some say that he does not want the country to sink in the civil war and he is the only one who can control his son and nephews from being aggressive in using the power. Saleh “returned because he’s the legitimate president,” said Deputy Minister of Information, Abdu al-Janadi, in an interview on Al Jazeera today. “It will put an end to a lot of the ongoing dispute.”
“The opposition parties feel that the arrival of Saleh does not bother them much” said Mohamed Gahtan, the official speaker of the opposition parties. The opposition parties do not have much to negotiate with Presdent Saleh and Deputy President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi. They have already signed on the GCC initiative as their only action plan left to force Saleh to step down.
In Taiz today, Saleh supporters celebrated his return with gunfire, and government forces fired shells at demonstrators, said Ahmed al-Wafi, a protest organizer. He said at least two people were injured.
“I’m as concerned as everybody else about civil war. Yemen is already suffering and bleeding. A civil war will make further damages” said Mohammed Khalid. “Nothing has been confirmed and what a transition of power will ultimately look like has yet to be determined. All I know is that opposition parties do not trust Saleh anymore,” Mohammed concluded.
Walid al-Amari, a member of the youth committee at Change Square in Sana’a said that President Saleh is the one who gave his order to the military leaders to shell protestors at the peaceful rally that took place last Sunday on September 18th. According to Walid, he is also the one who gave the orders for the cease fire that took place.
Yasser al-Yamani, a member at the GPC, said that President Saleh completed the medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and he was expected to come back home any time. “His arrival does not mean that he will withdraw authority from the deputy president to negotiate with the opposition parties as stated in the Gulf initiative,” said al-Yamani.
President Saleh arrived after the expansion of the fighting in Sana’a and state media stated that he will meet with his ruling party within a few hours after his arrival. Nothing has been said about the meeting and it is still unclear whether he will discuss resignation options or the process of solution and dialogue. The only thing known at the moment is that he is in the country.
Shaikh Sadiq Al-Ahmer the Shaikh of Hashid tribe, previously promised his tribe and the youth movement that he would not let Saleh return. So far, Al-Ahmer has remained quiet since Saleh’s arrival. During the recent fighting, shelling in the city targeted the home of Sheikh Sadiq. Supporters of Al-Ahmar began clashing with Saleh loyalists beginning in May, about two months after the tribal leader officially backed the anti-government protesters.
Youth at the change square said that the meeting of Saleh with Saudi King Abdullah was a green light for Saleh to return on the condition he transfer power in Saudi Arabia. Others said that he met with King Abdullah to ask for permission and his support to finish his remaining term in power while his deputy leads the country until 2013.
Even with all the divergent opinions, many agree that Saleh is stronger than before. This is because many international players do not trust the opposition to lead the country. In addition, international actors prefer a stabile Yemen and feel that President Saleh is the only person suited to successfully fight against terrorism.
Many protestors present at the Friday anti-prayers on Sixtieth Street said that they are not sure if President Saleh has returned. If true, they said they will throw stones to where ever he is. Protestors also accused accused Saudi Arabia and the United States in supporting Saleh to return to Yemen.
The White House on Friday urged Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to arrange for presidential elections and a handover of power before the end of the year.
Citing current instability, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “We urge President Saleh to initiate a full transfer of power and arrange for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year.”
“The Yemeni people have suffered enough and deserve a path toward a better future,” he said.