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Secretary General of the GCC Abdultaif Al-Zayani will return to Yemen on May 2 for talks over the Gulf effort to end the Yemeni crisis after President Saleh abruptly rejected to sign an agreement resolve the standoff between anti and pro-regime protestors. Last week, Saleh said he would sign the agreement as the head of the ruling party rather than as President. Al Zayani's visit comes after the GCC member states held an emergency meeting in Saudi capital Riyadh to salvage the deal to end Yemen's political crisis.

 

The GCC initiative called for the resignation of President Saleh and forming a national unity government. The General People's Congress, the governing party, and the Joint Meeting Parties, the opposition bloc, officially accepted the GCC power transfer deal last week, though President Saleh continued to say he will stick with the “constitutional legitimacy” and that he will stay in office till 2013. Meanwhile, Yemeni press reported that Saleh has telephoned Gulf leaders except the Qatari Emir over their effort to end Yemen's deadlock. Saleh appreciated what Yemen's neighbors are exerting, days after he accused the Qatari government of involvement in Yemen's affairs and “providing funds to disturb the republic”.

 

In a separate development, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have intensified attacks against government forces, particularly in the south and east of the country. In past week, over five soldiers and policemen were killed and a large number injured by AQAP attacks in Abyan Province.

 

April 16-30, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The outstanding issue that appears to be delaying the signing of the agreement is the eventual fate of President Saleh. The longer the unrest continues, the larger the long-term economic losses. GCC states will likely assist Yemen recover some of those losses in post-Saleh Yemen. More importantly, however, are the deepening rifts between members of the opposition. This will make return to normality in post-Saleh Yemen increasingly difficult, with expected intensification of calls for secession by the South.

 

In addition, the continuing unrest is giving AQAP the opportunity to intensify their attacks and weaken the country’s security forces.

 

The GCC attempt appears to be a final attempt to broker a deal. If the GCC deal is not signed within days, the country faces a serious escalation of violence and a higher possibility of the country’s break-up by military means, potentially leading to a protracted civil war.