The debate is apparently over: Washington will allow Yemen's embattled president to visit New York for medical treatment, US officials tell the New York Times. They say the move will effectively disempower Ali Abdullah Saleh by removing him from Yemen, where demonstrators are still waging a deadly battle for democracy. “In the end, we felt there was enough good to be gained that it was worth managing the criticism that we’d get," says a US official.
Critics will likely slam Washington for harboring a despised Arab dictator whose government forces have killed hundreds of protesters. But "the main goal is to remove him physically from Yemen so there’s no way he can meddle in the political process there,” the official says. For his part, Saleh says he won't be visiting to treat his shrapnel wounds, burns, and inner-ear balance problem; he'll just be getting "out of sight" to "calm the atmosphere" before a Yemeni election slated for February. (Read more Yemen stories.)