US Seeking Refuge for Saleh—Just Not Here
Letting him in would help Yemen, but hurt America's image in the Middle East
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2012 8:52 AM CST
In this Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 file photo, Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Sanaa, Yemen.   (AP Photo/Mohammed Hamoud, File)

(Newser) – The White House wants Ali Abdullah Saleh out of Yemen, and officials are trying to find him a new home—but they'd rather it not be the US. The Yemen president met with an American ambassador this week to review his options in a matter that's put the US in a tight spot: seeking a country to provide refuge to an alleged human rights violator. Allowing Saleh to stay in the US would help pave the way to stability in Yemen, but it would hurt America's image in the region, the AP notes.

Despite vowing to transfer control of the country to his vice president, Saleh is still holding the reins behind the scenes, preventing other political leaders from forging ahead. The confusion is providing fertile ground for al-Qaeda as it takes over new territory, a major concern for the US. Saleh has resubmitted a US visa application; if he is allowed in, he'll be allowed to remain here, officials say. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have refused him entry. If it were left with no other option, the US would probably let him in, insiders say.