President Barack Obama last week: “But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for change consistent with the principles that I have outlined today. That is true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.”
It would appear that Mr. Saleh did not receive this message. According to several news sources, Saleh has reneged on a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that would have ended Saleh’s rule within 30 days. Saleh had previously agreed to the deal, but apparently got cold feet at the last minute.
The big question now is how will the United States react to this news. Saleh basically did the opposite of what Obama said. The State Department issued a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed,” but I do wonder if the consequences will be more severe.
For example, Saleh’s government receives some hefty military aid from the United States — over $150 million last year — ostensibly to combat terrorist groups. As of last month, there were no plans to suspend that aid. I think we will know the United States is serious about its intentions to see Saleh’s rule ended when the administration literally puts its money where its mouth is and makes the the flow of military aid contingent on democratic reforms.