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Yemen Struggles in Saleh’s Wake

Samara Greenberg

Yemen’s Vice President Abdu Rabu Hadi, who took control of the country at the end of last month when embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down, announced Sunday the formation of a military council whose members will be tasked with stabilizing the country and reforming the military ahead of presidential elections to be held within three months.

Saleh was in power for 33 years and is the fourth head of state to fall to an uprising in 2011. The deal he signed relinquishing power gives him and his family immunity from prosecution, which the opposition is gravely unhappy about. Since the deal was inked, millions of Yemenis have not stopped protesting throughout the country, and violent clashes continue between the opposition and those loyal to President Saleh — who will retain his title as president until another is chosen — even after a ceasefire was put in place.

Protesters demand a trial for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh after he signed a deal securing immunity.

Washington supported the deal that saw Saleh go, as the administration hopes the agreement will stabilize the situation in Yemen. American officials fear the creation of a political and security vacuum in Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor that could embolden al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in the country, and turn internal conflicts into a full-scale civil war.

Even with the agreement signed and creation of a military council there’s reason to fear that the above scenarios may come to fruition. Since the unrest began 10 months ago, the central government has lost control of areas in the south to separatists, in the northwest to Shiite rebels, and in the southwest to al-Qaeda elements.

It’s a scary situation indeed, and Yemen’s new military council is looking at a long road ahead.