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Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni ‘snake dancer’, departs the stage

Even during those short periods in four decades when he was out of power, Ali Abdullah Saleh bestrode Yemeni politics, holding together its diverse, extravagantly-armed factions and antagonistic communities with a blend of guile and coercion. There were triumphs – most notably reunification in 1990, as the ‘snake dancer’ sloughed off his Cold War skin in his and the Arab nationalist interest to create the United Republic of Yemen.

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