And now I’ll do’t

The initial statement released by the president of Yemen after a June 3 explosion struck the presidential palace mosque was oblique—almost Delphic: “If you are well, I am well”, which led most observers to conclude that President Saleh’s injuries were more serious than his aides indicated. Initial reports were that a mortar rocket had cleared the palace perimeter and somehow crashed down on the mosque where Saleh was attending Friday prayers. News comes today that Saleh (who is undergoing surgery in Riyadh) is in grave condition and that officials now believe the explosion came from a bomb planted in the mosque, perhaps in the minbar.

The source of the explosion, which killed several guards and the imam of the mosque and injured a dozen government officials and Saleh allies, has also been mysterious. It was initially believed to have come from a mortar or rocket attack from outside the compound.

But as the investigation continued, opinion has shifted to the possibility of at least one or more explosive devices having been planted, including in the minbar, or pulpit, a Western official said. Many of those injured were struck by shards of wood, including the president.

The explosive material also apparently contained some kind of agent that spurred flames, a Western diplomat said. Mr. Saleh was said to be bowing at the time of the explosion. “He was very close, and that is why he was burned,” said the Western official.

I now invite scholars of Yemeni politics and scholars of Hamlet (III, iii) to discuss the wisdom and implications of (not) assassinating a head of state while he is composed in prayer.

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