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UN Council Acts on Yemen’s Saleh Day After Despot Qaddafi Killed

October 21, 2011

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A day after the death of Muammar Qaddafi, the United Nations Security Council that authorized the bombing of Libya took action against another Arab leader clinging to power: Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The council unanimously approved a resolution calling on Saleh to implement a Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered deal. Under the plan, he would resign and transfer power to his deputy in return for immunity from prosecution for his family and inner circle.

The killing of the Libyan dictator yesterday resonated among the thousands of Yemenis who took to the streets of the capital Sana’a to renew calls for the end of Saleh’s 33-year rule.

“The end of Qaddafi has given us a strong boost that regardless of how much time our revolt will take, we will win and the fate of Saleh will be like that of Qaddafi,” Maher al- Haidari, a protester, said in an interview.

Almost a year after the Arab Spring got under way, three autocrats have fallen. Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was carried out in stretcher and placed in an iron cage to stand trial. Qaddafi was killed as he attempted to escape from his hometown of Sirte.

Two authoritarian regimes facing widespread international condemnation remain standing.

Yemen and Syria

In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has carried out a deadly crackdown against protesters that the UN estimates has killed more than 3,000 since March.

In Yemen, there have been protests almost daily since January to demand the removal of the president, a U.S. ally who has held power for more than three decades. Saleh returned to Yemen on Sept. 23 after three months in Saudi Arabia, where he received medical treatment following a rocket attack in the capital.

He has asked for increased guarantees from Gulf nations, the U.S. and Europe before agreeing to hand over power.

While the most powerful UN body acted fast against Qaddafi, it’s been unable to replicate that speed. Critics led by Russia argue that the Libya resolution, sold as a way to protect civilians, instead became a pretext for regime change and must not be repeated.

“For many in the council, what happened in Libya was very disturbing,” Jeff Laurenti, a UN analyst at the Century Foundation, a New York-based research group. Qaddafi’s death will only “add to the doubts and the caution.”

Vetoes on Syria

U.S., Britain and France convinced Russia and China to abstain from the March vote that allowed “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from Qaddafi’s forces.

After that, they failed to get Russia and China to withhold their vetoes in a resolution condemning a seven-month crackdown on anti-government protesters in Syria. Instead they were met with a rare double veto not seen since 2008.

The resolution for Yemen, which took a month to prepare and stresses that “all those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable,” is considered flawed by leading Yemeni activists who are demanding more.

Tawakkul Karman, one of three women to win this year’s Nobel peace prize, traveled to New York this week and met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Surrounded by hundreds of supporters outside the UN headquarters, she called Saleh a war criminal who should be stripped of his immunity and be investigated by the International Criminal Court.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, returned from a two-week visit to the country having failed to persuade Saleh to give up power. He told reporters the situation had “deteriorated dramatically.”

--With assistance from Mohammed Hatem in Sana’a, Henry Meyer in Moscow and Steven Komarow in Washington. Editors: Steven Komarow, Terry Atlas

To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in United Nations at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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