Yemen's wounded president's 'defiant' reappearance

Ali Abdullah Saleh reemerges after undergoing at least eight surgeries following an apparent assassination attempt — and refuses to step down

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh gives his first public speech Thursday since an apparent assassination attempt last month.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Yemen TV)

The video: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has made his first televised appearance since a deadly explosion at his palace forced him to decamp to Saudi Arabia last month. In a pre-recorded speech broadcast Thursday, a visibly scarred and bandaged Saleh said he had undergone at least eight "successful operations" to recover from the apparent assassination attempt. (Watch the video below.) He did not offer to step down, instead suggesting that he is open to a power-sharing agreement with opponents in this Middle Eastern nation plagued by months of unrest. Noting his weak voice, immobile limbs, and darkened complexion, some opponents said they don't think Saleh will ever return to Yemen. But his supporters expressed no such doubts, celebrating his reappearance with fireworks and gunshots in the streets.

The reaction: Saleh looked shockingly "emaciated and scarred" on TV, says James M. Dorsey in Al Arabiya. But he "clearly had not lost any of his feistiness or defiance." And while his many opponents will view his call for dialogue as just more "duplicitous rhetoric," the "visual impact" of seeing him so disfigured and unprepared to return could ease both sides back to the negotiating table. Actually, neither side will be happy with this video, says Sherine Tadros in Al Jazeera. The people who have been protesting his 33-year rule for months will be disappointed by his "defiant" tone, and his allies will "see a man who looks defeated in some way, without his glasses and suit. He didn't look his normal self." See for yourself:

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