Islamic Spring… Yemeni President Steps Down – Another US Ally Ousted

Another one bites the dust.
Yemeni leader and US ally Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down today.

Pro Al-Qaeda protesters shout slogans as they march in the southern Yemeni town of Radfan on December 19, 2009. (CSM)

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed an agreement today effectively ending his 33 year rule of the impoverished Arab nation.
The New York Times reported:

After months of street protests calling for his resignation, President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed an agreement Wednesday immediately transferring power to his vice president.

The agreement effectively ends Mr. Saleh’s 33 years of authoritarian rule, making him the fourth leader forced from power by the Arab Spring revolts that have roiled the Middle East and North Africa. But it is unlikely to restore calm anytime soon to a country that has become increasingly important to the United States as Islamist militants have gained a stronger hold there.

The unity government that is expected to take over in the coming days or weeks will face not only those insurgencies, which have grown only more entrenched during months of turmoil, but also festering tribal divisions and the likelihood of continued protests from young demonstrators unsatisfied with Wednesday’s deal.

The deal allows Mr. Saleh to retain his title and certain privileges until new elections are held in three months and grants him immunity from prosecution. It was unclear when, and if, the president intended to return to Yemen.

Armed al-Qaeda fighters took over all key government headquarters in Zinjubar, Yemen, and declared it their Islamic capital in May.

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