Ali Abdullah Saleh no longer dancing on heads of snakes



Mon, 04 Dec 2017 - 09:06 GMT


Mon, 04 Dec 2017 - 09:06 GMT

Yemen's then President Ali Abdullah Saleh points during an interview with selected media in Sanaa, May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/File Photo

Yemen's then President Ali Abdullah Saleh points during an interview with selected media in Sanaa, May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/File Photo

CAIRO – 4 December 2017: Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was dubbed as the “one who dances on the heads of snakes”, reached his ultimate end on Monday, just days after he announced breaking off ties with Iran-backed Houthis and his willingness for dialogue with the Saudi-led coalition.

The 69-year-oldd was bitten by the snakes when the Houthi militia killed him and the assistant secretary-general of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress Party (GPC), Yasser al-Awadi, by RPG and sniper bullets near the capital, Sanaa.

After the assassination, Houthis distributed a video on social media showing what appeared to Saleh’s body wearing clothes and being carried out on a red blanket, while his head bore a deep wound.

“Ruling Yemen is like dancing on the heads of snakes,” Saleh said when millions of Yemeni people revolted against him during the Arab Spring. After the uprising in Yemen was sparked on February 11, 2011, Saleh promised he would not run for re-election in 2013 and dismissed the idea of his son succeeding. He also offered a referendum on a new constitution and a shift to a truly democratic system.

But after using violence against protests, which led to the death of 52 protesters, a string of generals, tribal leaders, diplomats and ministers demanded that Saleh resign or they would declare their allegiance with the protesters in 2012 to end his 33-year-old regime, leading the country to suffer from poverty, civil war, militias and terrorism.

Then the conflict forced thousands of residents to flee Sanaa and raised the prospect of chaos. Hundreds of people have been killed in Yemen since the protests began.

In June 2011, the assassinated president survived from an attack that targeted a mosque inside his presidential palace, causing several burns and bruises, and driving him abroad to recover in his previous ally, Saudi Arabia.

Following the 2011 assassination attempt, he accepted the Gulf initiative on Yemen to end his rule peacefully and mandated his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the current Yemeni president, to conduct a dialogue with the opposition for a peaceful transition of power.

In 2012, When Saleh stepped down, Hadi was the only candidate for the post-uprising election and won. However, Yemen indulged into chaos again when Saleh allied with his traditional enemies, the Houthis, in January 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition forces targeted his house. His approaching the Houthis was described by many critics as a “false alliance,” which did not last for a long time and ended with his death by Houthi militants.

There have been constant skirmishes between the country's government and Houthis since 2004, when the Houthis took control of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, pushing southwards towards the second-largest city, Aden. In response to the Houthis' advances, a coalition of Arab states launched a military campaign in 2015 to defeat the Houthis and restore Yemen's government.

Saleh’s early life:

Saleh was born in 1942 into a tribe in the town of Bayt al-Ahmar near Sanaa. The father of 16 sons and daughters received only limited education before taking up a military career, beginning in 1958 as a non-commissioned officer.

He remained in the army until 1978, when he transferred to politics. He took over Yemen after former President Ahmad al-Ghashmi was assassinated on June 24, 1978, and since then, he had not relinquished the post.

In 1990, he became president of the whole republic of Yemen after its two halves were united. Saleh often portrayed himself as the only man who could hold Yemen together. In the early days of the popular campaign to drive him from office, he portrayed the opposition as a conspiracy to destroy the country, a slogan he had often used during his decades in power.



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