Photograph by Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The Obama administration has agreed in principal to allow Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's embattled strongman, to enter the United States for medical treatment.
Administration officials, however, say that Saleh's visit is still dependent on a set of conditions that Saleh and his staff have not yet met, including providing a proposed itinerary for the trip to the American embassy in Yemen, the New York Times reports.
Monday, Dec. 24: Should the United States play host to a dictatorial strongman who led a bloody crackdown on protesters in the Arab Spring? What if he’s ailing?
The Obama administration is “considering” a request from Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to enter the country, a senior official told reporters Sunday night. If the United States does allow him in, it will only be for “legitimate medical treatment,” the official told the New York Times—not political asylum.
Saleh had said on Saturday that he planned to visit the United States soon to calm tensions in his country, according to Al Jazeera English.
Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 33 years, suffered shrapnel wounds and burns in a June bomb attack on his compound in the country’s capital. He fled to Saudi Arabia for immediate treatment but returned and has managed to cling to power despite agreeing multiple times to step down.
Last month he signed a deal to give up power in exchange for immunity from prosecution. But in the meantime he has retained his title and continues to wield authority, bolstering the perception that he will say or do anything to remain in power.
Yemen, one of the Middle East’s poorest countries, is a bastion of al-Qaida activity. The United States has worked with Saleh for years on counterterrorism operations.