How Yemen’s US-backed ex-dictator is tearing his country apart

For years, the Americans saw President Ali Abdullah Saleh a key ally in the fight against al-Qaeda. He allowed his air bases to be used by US drones to strike at the movement’s operatives, and gladly received Western aid in development cash and arms supplies.

Yet according to claims in a United Nations report last month, one of the first things Mr Saleh did when his three-decade rule was threatened by the 2011 Arab Spring was strike a secret deal to give an entire southern province to al-Qaeda. The more he could portray Yemen as falling into militant hands, he calculated, the more the West want to keep him in office at all costs.

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