The scent of jasmine has just grown a little stronger in Arabia. The Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has agreed to stand down within 30 days, the Wall Street Journal reports. Saleh and his family will receive immunity in exchange for his momentous gesture.
Saleh has been under growing pressure in recent months, as his government was attacked simultaneously by a pro-democracy movement and al-Qaeda sponsored terrorism. It is not clear if the groundswell of popular dissent that has forced his hand is inspired by jihad, but the speculation doesn’t seem unreasonable and western governments fear that they may lose a vital ally in the war on terror.
Global attention will now probably turn to Iran, the emirates and especially Saudi Arabia: a close ally of Saleh’s Yemen. But, as Daniel has noted, all eyes are on Syria at the moment. Yesterday’s bloodshed has continued: with an estimated further 12 fatalities at mourning rallies that were disrupted by forces loyal to President Assad.
Meanwhile, in Libya hope seem to be receding before ancient rivalries. Tribes sympathetic to Colonel Gaddafi have vowed to take the fight to the rebel town of Mistrata. As the stalemate deepens, NATO’s response will be crucial.