With yesterday’s report that Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s injuries are more serious than initially reported, a power transfer increasingly seems imminent. Saleh could be out of Yemen for months and could be forced to give up his rule, sources tell the Wall Street Journal, although government officials still insist he will return this week or next. New reports indicate the blast that injured him was from a hidden bomb in a mosque at his presidential compound, not a rocket attack—which means it could have been an inside job. Yemen’s umbrella political opposition group says it has already begun talks with the vice president and would start a transition within days.
US officials want the Saudis to broker the transition, overseen by Yemen’s VP, that would lead to a transitional government and democratic elections immediately. Saleh’s opponents support the plan, but Saleh himself has so far refused to sign it and could fight back even from Saudi Arabia—his son, who commands the Republican Guards and Special Forces, has moved into the presidential palace, and his nephew leads the Central Security Forces. Clashes continue in some parts of the country; the Washington Post notes that could be an attempt by Saleh’s loyalists to maintain his power. (Read more Ali Abdullah Saleh stories.)