A billionaire Yemeni sheik met with a high-ranking officer from the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa less than two years ago and revealed a secret plan to overthrow President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s longtime autocratic ruler.So quick to go into Libya, but ignoring other atrocities around the world. Expect the lamestream media to remain silent on this one.
Hamid al-Ahmar, an opposition party leader and a prominent businessman, vowed to trigger the revolt if Saleh did not guarantee the fairness of parliamentary elections scheduled for 2011, according to a classified U.S. diplomatic cable summarizing the meeting. The sheik said he would organize massive demonstrations modeled on protests that toppled Indonesia’s President Suharto a decade earlier.
“We cannot copy the Indonesians exactly, but the idea is controlled chaos,” Ahmar told the unnamed embassy official. The embassy, however, was dismissive of the sheik, concluding that his challenge posed nothing more than “a mild irritation” for Saleh.
Today, Saleh is barely clinging to power amid a popular uprising in Yemen that is unfolding more or less along the lines that Ahmar predicted. Several previously undisclosed U.S. diplomatic cables, provided by the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, show that influential Yemenis and U.S. allies repeatedly warned U.S. diplomats of Saleh’s growing weakness in 2009 and 2010. But despite those warnings, the Obama administration continued to embrace Saleh and became increasingly dependent on him to combat an al-Qaeda affiliate that was plotting attacks against the United States from the Arabian peninsula.