One day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment for injuries suffered in an attack on his compound, six people died in Sanaa, the capital. Three were reportedly fighters loyal to Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, a powerful tribal leader, and three were government troops.
Saleh’s departure has created confusion over who will lead the country, with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi acting as his stand-in per Yemen’s constitution. Whether Saleh will remain in Saudi Arabia or return is unknown; his government claims his absence is temporary. His sons remain in charge of the national military, which has continued its battle with tribal groups.
In recent weeks, Saleh has refused to sign a deal supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia that would allow for a peaceful transition of power and new elections in two months.
The turmoil in Yemen poses serious challenges for U.S. officials. Saleh has been an ally in counter-terrorism efforts and his government given aid to combat the group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the Washington Post:
The flight of Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia deprives the United States of a fitful ally in the fight against al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate and injects new uncertainty into counterterrorism operations that were already hampered by the country’s bloody internal strife, according to Yemen and security experts.
U.S. officials are alarmed that the political instability in Yemen will create an opening for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to expand its reach.
German Farm Identified as Likely Source of E. Coli Outbreak
A farm in northern Germany that grows bean sprouts is the likely source of an E. Coli outbreak that has killed 22 people and sickened more than 2,000. Though more definitive tests are being run, a German agriculture minister, Gert Lindemann, said he believes the farm — located north of Hamburg in the town of Uelzen — grew the sprouts at a temperature that was conducive to bacterial growth.
Spain has cited “serious and irreparable” damage from the original rumors that Spanish cucumbers were the source of the outbreak.
Health officials have said the strain, known as enterohaemorrhagic E. coli, is especially pernicious and sometimes causes haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure.
The outbreak is also expected to cause hundreds of millions in economic damages to growers.
Humala, Fujimori Split by Narrow Margin in Presidential Runoff
Former military officer Ollanta Humala is claiming victory in the Peruvian presidential elections after results, still being tallied, show a narrow lead over his rival, Keiko Fujimori. The latest margin has them little more than a percentage point apart.
Humala ran on a platform of expanding social programs for the poor and distributing the benefits of Peru’s recent economic growth. Despite the country’s rapid economic progress, some were angry at current President Alan Garcia for not doing more to alleviate poverty.
Fujimori is the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in prison for human rights abuses. Humala was part of a military rebellion targeting Alberto Fujimori more than a decade ago; for her part, Keiko Fujimori has said, “I reject and lament the errors and crimes that were committed by officials in my father’s government,” but insists her father is innocent.
Humala made a bid for the presidency in 2006 against Garcia. He was criticized for holding leftist views and being associated with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The runoff election follows an April 10 vote in which three other candidates were eliminated and neither Fujimori nor Humala earned 50 percent of the vote. The initial vote also disposed of the more centrist candidates, leaving voters a stark contrast between the policies of the remaining candidates.
5 American Troops Killed in Iraq
In an attack that inflicted the heaviest death toll since 2009, five American troops were killed in central Iraq Monday. U.S. officials did not confirm a cause of death, but Iraqi officials said a rocket attack on a base in Baghdad struck near their living quarters, according to the Associated Press. Five other soldiers were injured.
The attacks come as the military is preparing to withdraw 46,000 troops from Iraq by January 2012. A spokesman for U.S. Forces-Iraq said the recent uptick in attacks is a sign insurgents hope to capitalize on the drawdown. They are “designed for power and they want to claim credit for our redeploying, for us leaving,” said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan.