Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reportedly set to sign an agreement that would bring his 33-year rule to an end, making him yet another victim of the “Arab Spring” that began in Tunisia last December and raising questions about the future of al-Qaida in the Middle Eastern country. Experts say they won’t believe Saleh is leaving until it happens, as he has already backed out of two previous deals at the last minute. The Obama administration supported Saleh through late March, then changed its tune after the increasingly violent leader proved unwilling to reform and unable to quell dissent. The U.S. has seen Yemen as a key ally in the fight against al-Qaida. — KDG


The long delayed Gulf-brokered deal would grant Saleh immunity from prosecution, allowing him a dignified exit from power in the fractious Arabian Peninsula state that he has ruled for nearly 33 years. It is due to be signed later on Wednesday.

“After American, European and Gulf efforts, there was agreement by the president on the Gulf initiative after simple changes, and the signing will be today,” opposition official Yahya Abu Usbua said.

Al Arabiya television quoted an adviser to Saleh as confirming the signing would take place on Wednesday.

The United States and oil giant Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks from al Qaeda’s Yemen wing, are keen to see an end to Yemen’s political stalemate, fearing continued chaos could give the militant group more room to operate freely.

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