End Game in Yemen? Injured Leader Going to Saudi Arabia

President Saleh might not be able to return
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2011 2:28 PM CDT
End Game in Yemen? Injured Leader Going to Saudi Arabia
In this photo taken April 29, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh waves to his supporters during a rally in Sanaa.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

(Newser) – The rocket strike that hit the presidential palace in Yemen yesterday may have been more effective than thought: President Ali Abdullah Saleh is going to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, and once he leaves the country it could be near-impossible for him to return. Reports are sketchy: al-Jazeera says he's already there, Reuters says he's due shortly, and AP says he's accepted the offer but hasn't left the Yemen capital.

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Saleh gave an audio address yesterday after the attack, but his words were shaky, suggesting he was under medication. The BBC says he suffered fairly serious burns and has shrapnel below his heart. In the meantime, the streets are finally quiet today under a cease-fire brokered by Saudi Arabia between Saleh's forces and tribal rivals. If Saleh leaves the country, it's likely that his opponents would oust him in absentia, notes AP. He has promised several times to step down, only to renege at the last minute. (Read more Yemen stories.)

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