Yemen's Dictator Beseiges U.S., Other Foreign Ambassadors

Yesterday, for about the hundredth time, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was supposed to sign an agreement to step down after three decades in power. And, unsurprisingly, he backed out for another bullshit, concocted reason. However, instead of just saying "no," he decided to surround the U.A.E. embassy in Sanaa — where the U.S. ambassador and at least four other diplomats were gathered — with hundreds of armed men. From the Times:

The men, some armed with guns, knives or swords, surrounded the United Arab Emirates Embassy, where diplomats had gathered to witness Mr. Saleh sign the agreement, according to Yemeni officials and people who were there. The diplomats were trapped for hours, and the signing ceremony could not take place.

Finally, helicopters were dispatched to fly the diplomats to the presidential palace, witnesses said. There, several high-ranking members of the ruling party signed the agreement. But Mr. Saleh refused, noting that the opposition's leaders — who had been expected to attend — refused to show up.

If something like this had happened at the U.A.E. embassy in, say, Tehran, there would have been an uproar and we'd have called it a hostage situation. But in the land of (previously) U.S.-backed dictators, it's simply called negotiating.

[NYT; image via AP]