Sunday John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia seeing (still) President Saleh of Yemen who is recuperating from injuries suffered in an early June attack. I don’t know when the trip was planned, but I expect a late Thursday speech by Saleh was somehow related.
In the speech, President Saleh said nothing about stepping down from office. A White House statement on Brennan’s trip includes, “During the meeting, Mr. Brennan called upon President Salih to fulfill expeditiously his pledge to sign the GCC-brokered agreement for peaceful and Constitutional political transition in Yemen.” (You say Saleh, I say Salih.) In other words, Saleh should resign the presidency and stay out of Yemen.
Tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands — of Yemenis filled the streets in protest after Saleh’s speech was broadcast.
Today Brennan is in Yemen. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Brennan met with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a bid to revive a power-transfer deal proposed by Yemen’s neighbors. Mr. Hadi has headed the government since embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for neighboring Saudi Arabia to be treated for wounds he suffered in a June 3 attack on his compound in San’a, Yemen’s capital… Mr. Hadi briefed Mr. Brennan on his previous meeting with the opposition groups regarding the transition plan, which envisions presidential elections two months after the initial handover of power… Mr. Brennan’s visit also appeared to reflect Washington’s concerns about the growing strength of Islamic militants in Yemen, which is close to the Gulf’s vast oil fields and strategic shipping lanes in the Arabian and Red seas. U.S. officials say Washington has increased its security presence and operations in Yemen amid the turmoil.
I can’t keep up with Mr. Brennan. On June 29 while I was offline for some personal obligations Mr. Brennan introduced the new National Strategy for Counterterrorism. Watch Brennan’s SAIS speech or read his prepared remarks on the new strategy.
More on the new Strategy coming up.