Government officials in Yemen are struggling to persuade former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave the country until after Yemen’s political transition is completed, Arab dailies report in their leads.
The Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that “Saleh will not risk going to Italy, where he already received a visa, due to the ease of prosecution there and his fear of assassination by the mafia.”
The embattled former Yemeni president, who stepped down in February after 32 years in office and who survived a devastating assassination attempt by an RPG in June 2011, has stubbornly insisted on remaining chairman of his General People’s Congress party. In response, the main Yemeni opposition parties have vowed not to participate in any sort of national political dialogue until he reverses his decision, threatening to plunge Yemen into an intractable civil war.
A source close to Saleh told the paper that he has received offers of sponsorship by various states in the Persian Gulf and is merely biding his time until all of his conditions for exile are met.
One Yemeni group that will be very sad to see Saleh leave Yemen’s political process is the country’s Jewish community. In an article called “Yemeni Jews not included in the [Arab] ‘spring,'” the London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that the Jewish community of Sanaa, which numbers about 50 people, appreciated the years of protection Saleh’s government provided them in the face of Islamic extremists and are extremely worried about what will follow his departure.
“We love him,” Yahya Moussa, the leader of Sanaa’s Jews, said as he expressed gratitude for the aid Saleh provided the community when Shiite militias attempted to rob Jews of their money and destroy their property. When asked if he and the rest of the community intended to move to Israel due to the uncertainty of their situation, Moussa scoffed.
“We are opposed to the Zionist state of Israel and their traditions,” he said. “There your son and your wife and your daughter are not yours. I refuse to live in a secular Zionist state as long as women have freedom and independence and the girl’s father is not consulted if the girl decides to marry.”
Morsi scrambles to defuse Egypt-UAE diplomatic crisis
Already facing a number of seemingly insurmountable political battles at home, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is scrambling to divert a major break in relations with the United Arab Emirates after the oil-rich nation arrested 11 Egyptian citizens with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood for plotting to overthrow its government, Arab newspapers report.
According to the Cairo-based Al-Masry Al-Youm, Morsi has sent Essam Al-Haddad, a top foreign affairs adviser, and Brigadier General Mohamed Raafat Shehata, the head of Egyptian intelligence, to Abu Dhabi for emergency meetings with UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to reiterate the official Egyptian government’s position that it is not interested in any political changes outside of Egypt itself.
The paper quotes a report by WAM, an Emirati news agency, that the 11 arrested Egyptians were “heavily involved in the organization and collection of information about the secrets of UAE defense.” The report continues that the Egyptian prisoners came “from the leadership of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood” and were “holding secret meetings in various parts of the country and recruiting members of the Egyptian community in the UAE to join the ranks of the organization.”
However, the detainees have not been formally charged with any crime as of yet and Morsi is coming under a great deal of public pressure in Egypt to secure their release due to lack of evidence.
In a press release written by Abdel Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, the lawyer affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood representing the Egyptian detainees in the UAE, and quoted by the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the prisoners “appeal to President Morsi… to stand by them in their request for an unconditional release…. This is not about issues with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is about how Egyptian people have had their rights violated. Everyone must now come together to help them get home as long as they have not been formally charged and have not subjected to any official investigation.”