On June 26, Yemen announced that the Saudi leadership has allowed Saleh
to give a televised address to Yemen by June 29. A Yemeni official warned
that Saleh has been disfigured by burns on his face and body.
"The president will appear within the next 48 hours despite our fear
that the burns on his features and on different parts of his body will be an
obstacle given that his appearance will not be as the media expects it,"
Saleh's spokesman Ahmed Al Sufi said.
Ahmed has been regarded as the most powerful of Saleh's sons. Ahmed
commands the Republican Guard, assigned to protect the president, and was
the key liasion to U.S. counter-insurgency efforts in Yemen. Ahmed was also
said to have ordered air and other strikes on rebel tribes in Yemen.
"It is fair to say that at this point, Saleh is being held against his
will in Saudi Arabia," a diplomatic source said. "But the Saudis don't feel
they can hold him forever."
The sources said Saudi Arabia and the United States have urged Ahmed and
Khaled to allow Hadi to succeed their father until elections are held. But
they said Saleh's sons insist that their father return from Saudi Arabia,
where he has undergone medical treatment since June 4.
"We continue to believe that an immediate, peaceful, and orderly
transition is in the best interest of the Yemeni people," U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman said during a visit to Sanaa on June 23.
"We urge all sides to engage in dialogue that peacefully moves Yemen
The diplomats said Washington has been working with Riyad to prevent
Saleh's return to Yemen. They said Saudi Arabia and the United States agreed
that Saleh's return to Yemen would resume the civil war and prevent any hope
for a transfer of power.
"We expect the president to take a decision in the best interests of the
Yemeni people," Feltman said. "It is a Yemeni decision, not an American
The medical condition of Saleh, president since 1979, remains unclear.
Saudi officials have been quoted as saying that Saleh was seriously injured
and required weeks if not months of rehabilitation. But the diplomats said
Saleh was capable of returning to Sanaa but prevented from doing so by Riyad