THE BLOG

Yemen: The World Goes to Riyadh

At the end of the Arab Spring will they all have gone to Riyadh?

For years Muslim dictators have been able to go to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment or asylum. Not all returned.

The latest is Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who officially had such minor wounds he would be able to speak to the nation on TV after an attack on the presidential palace. Instead he spoke on the radio.

And that was quite a feat considering the BBC says he has shrapnel under his heart and other wounds. Saudi King Abdullah urged him to come to Riyadh for treatment and he submitted.

That leaves his sons and nephews and other family in charge of the military, including the so-called "elite Republican Guard." Doesn't it sometimes seem that the more a country tries to suggest a link to Roman armies the less likely they are to be all that tough?

It's clear Saleh, who has been under attack for months, will not receive a ticker tape parade if he returns: more likely cluster bombs. Crowds in the streets celebrated when they learned he had gone to neighboring Saudi.

"You can never be sure what the dawn will bring," in the words of the Al Stewart song "Nostradamus Part One: The World Comes to Riyadh. "So just be careful how you choose your friends...

"Every turn in the night of the wheel of fortune changes everything, don't loose your head now Like a storm on the ocean, empires wax and wane And crumble away
And the world goes to Riyadh, today"