Yemen President Again Vows to Leave After Election
Meaning in 2012; Leaves US with no good options in al-Qaeda stronghold
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2011 9:26 AM CDT
Anti-government protesters shout slogans and raise banners during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, March 22, 2011.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

(Newser) – Pressured by the defection of some of his top military commanders, Ali Abdullah Saleh has once again promised to step down—eventually. The longtime Yemeni president said today he would leave office “constitutionally” following an election at the end of this year or the beginning of 2012, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Saleh had offered to step aside at year’s end once before, but then apparently changed his mind soon afterward.

“Ali Abdullah Saleh does not seek power,” his media secretary tells Reuters. But he “will not leave without knowing who he is handing over to.” Saleh’s exit could put the US in a bind, the AP observes, because it’s long relied on him to fight the rising al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, or to look the other way while the US fought the group. “In the counterterrorism area, it will be a great loss,” says a former State Department intelligence analyst.