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'Saleh perpetrator in US, Saudi crimes'
Mon, 25 Apr 2011 17:36:01 GMT
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Yemen protesters receive medical aid after the government crackdown on peaceful rallies.
The US and Saudi governments still help Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh escape prosecution for brutal acts he has committed against his own people.

In an interview with Press TV, freelance journalist Munir al-Mawari talks about the long-term US and Saudi Arabian support of Yemen.

Press TV: How do you see the situation in Yemen developing?

Mawari: I see the [P][P]GCC [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] initiative is trying to buy Saleh time. But this is not going to work.

The [P]GCC initiative had three different drafts. The first one was written or suggested by Doha Qatar, the emir of Qatar, and seemed to be serious but was changed by the Saudis to a second one that gave Saleh more time and didn't ask him to step down, just to transfer his power to his wife.

The third one, which was given two days ago to both the government and the opposition, had different conditions. It gives Saleh 30 days and immunity from any prosecution in the future. It was welcomed by him at the beginning and he was hoping that the opposition was going to reject it. They welcomed the initiative with a condition that they don't participate in any coalition government under Saleh.

Now, he's changed his opinion again. He seemed to reject this initiative according to the [P]GCC.

I think the [P]GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are trying to serve Saleh. I don't think that Saudi Arabia will support any revolution in any Arab country.

Press TV: Mr. Saleh is offered immunity from prosecution but do you think he'll get it?

Mawari: I don't think that he will get it.

The Saudis are trying to serve him because he served them for 33 years. I don't know why they are giving him 30 days more. If he is serious, he should resign right away and fly to Saudi Arabia to be safe.

If he stays in Yemen, he is not going to be safe. No one in Yemen can give him immunity.

The army is divided now. The situation is very serious. Saleh is trying to engage the country in civil war to gain immunity by having a stateless country.

Also, Saudi Arabia is a partner in many of Saleh's crimes. The Saudi air force bombed Yemeni civilians. They participated in that crime. The Saudis are also accused of supporting Saleh in the killing of the late President Ibrahim Muhammad al-Hamdi - who was very popular in Yemen. Many assassinations are planned by the Saudis and executed by Saleh.

So, the Saudis are trying to save themselves at the same time by saving Saleh. But asking the Saudis to support democracy or revolution in Yemen is almost like asking Osama bin Laden to have an initiative to fight terrorism.

We cannot expect the Saudis to support any revolution in the region. They supported bin Ali of Tunisia; they hosted him. They supported Mubarak against the Egyptian people. And now they are supporting the dictator of Yemen against his own people. They are afraid of democracy and I don't think they are serious is solving the Yemeni problem.

Press TV: If Saleh leaves and wants to be immune from prosecution, I mean he has to somehow leave the country, at the end of the day protesters will not stand by idly. They would want to bring him to justice. And in one instance, they might even want to assassinate him. Is there any country to grant him refuge?

Mawari: The only place he can go to is Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. These two countries have a history of hosting Yemeni political losers.

They hosted the former regime of the kingdom of Yemen. They hosted many politicians from south Yemen in 1994. The [P]GCC countries hosted Ali Salem, the loser of the war in 1994, Haider Abbas, the former prime minister, and many other politicians.

Saudi Arabia can give them practical immunity but no legal immunity if they stay in Yemen. There are too many crimes that Saleh and his aides committed in Yemen. They will never get immunity inside the country even if they get immunity by the current parliament in Yemen.

Press TV: What are the chances of a civil war in Yemen? [Considering] the fact that the country is consisted of tribes and that all of them are armed.

Mawari: The Yemeni people are now united against Saleh. I don't think that they are in danger of a full scale civil war.

Saleh can make a small scale civil war inside the capital of Sana'a but he lost all his support in the tribe and even in the army. Only a few units of the security forces and the republican guard inside Sana'a might defend him for some time, but at the end he is going to lose the civil war and he will be killed or prosecuted. He knows that, certainly.

Press TV: In general, how do you assess the tribal factor in Yemen?

Mawari: The tribes in Yemen are amazingly now acting like a civil society organization. They are armed and they are joining the revolution.

And even Saleh's own tribal confederation, Hashed, is acting peacefully and announcing the support for the revolution. They realize that all of Yemen are against Saleh. His tribe doesn't want to pay the price if he loses. They are supporting the revolution and Saleh seems to be losing.

Only the immediate family is supporting him, especially his son who leads the republican guard, and his nephews.

Other than that, his village and his tribal confederation, Hashed, abandoned him and joined the revolution. He is losing seriously.

Press TV: Suppose Ali Abdullah Saleh decides to leave power. The question remains is what then? What plan is there for when Saleh leaves?

Mawari: It is very simple. He just needs to transfer his power to his vice president who is from south Yemen. This is according to the current constitution.

The opposition parties are willing to deal with the vice president and with the ruling party. They oppose only Saleh and his family. If Saleh and his immediate family, the army leaves Yemen to Saudi Arabia this is going to solve the problem.

The Yemeni people will start forming a new constitution, having a new election. But they accept to deal with the vice president who is from south Yemen, well respected among the ruling party and the opposition.

But Saleh doesn't trust him. Saleh doesn't trust anyone but him and his family. He's not accepted among the Yemenis. The vice president and the ruling party are welcomed to continue.

Press TV: How likely will there be military intervention by Saudi Arabia in Yemen if Saleh does not step down? I'm asking this question because nearly a year ago the Saudis helped the Yemeni government in their crackdown on the Houthis.

Mawari: Saudi Arabia is very weak and has its own problems. Yemen is not Bahrain. And Saudi Arabia has tried, once, to interfere in Yemen, militarily, and they lost against the Houthis.

The Houthis defeated both the Saudi army and the Yemeni army because the Houthis were defending themselves in their area. Every Yemeni tribesman is a world trained military man. The Saudis are not. They never engaged in real war and they lost that war. They had their lesson. They will never go back to Yemen. Yemen is not Bahrain.

[Saudi Arabia] will lose. They might lose their kingdom as the Yemeni people engage in a war against Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni people have 23 million people and many of them are tribesmen. They are well armed and they will defeat Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis only interfere in Yemen by their money and by supporting the dictators. They always support the losing side in Yemen. They supported the losing side in the civil war in the 1960s. They supported the losing side in the civil war in 1994. And each time they support someone, they lose in Yemen because the Saudi policy is hated so much in Yemen to the degree that anyone who is supported by Saudi Arabia will lose definitely.

Press TV: You're in Washington, what role does the United States play in Yemen, do you think?

Mawari: The United States were invested so much in Saleh and his regime but the US realized, lately, that Saleh is not the right person to serve the United States' interests.

What happened to Mubarak is happening now to Saleh by the US. The United States is trying its best to have Saleh resign and putting pressure on him to step down but he is not accepting that. He's resisting this pressure.

The US always supports its interests in any country and will never stay supporting an individual over its strategic interests. The interests of the United States are to support the Yemeni people and to engage in good relations with those young people who are going to rule Yemen for many years to come.

And that's why the White House issued a statement yesterday supporting Saleh stepping down.

But today, Saleh changed his mind and said he is going to stay and resist outside pressure. At the end, he has no room to manipulate. He is going to lose and the United States is going to accept the reality as they accepted the reality in Egypt as they will deal with the new government.

Press TV: So, how much can Saleh rely on Washington, do you think?

Mawari: I don't think that Washington can support Saleh anymore because Washington is going to risk its strategic interests.

Even if they support Saleh, he has already lost his base or support inside the country. The United States cannot prevent Saleh from falling down.

The United States is not able to prevent Saleh from engaging the country in a small scale civil war; but, if any country, either the US, Saudi Arabia or any other country supports Saleh, that means the Yemeni people will find a way to approach China, Russia or any other country that supports the Yemeni people.

I don't think that President Barrack Obama has any interest in engaging himself with a losing man like Saleh. It is too late to support Saleh now anyway. So, Saleh has no internal base.

The outside interference is a reflection of the reality on the ground. While Saleh was in power, he got the US support. Saleh is losing now and that means it is the end of him, and the US can do nothing to protect him.

Press TV: What do you see for the future of Yemen?

Mawari: The future of Yemen will be bright without Saleh.

Saleh was not living as a Yemeni leader. He was living, for the past 33 years, as a military US and Saudi attaché, to serve the outside interests inside Yemen. He continued in the last few years to bomb his own people, to serve Saudi interests. Seven years of military confrontations with the al-Houthis in the Sa'ada province resulted in many civilian casualties.

The Saudis were partners with Saleh and now they are trying to protect themselves. If Saleh is going to be prosecuted that means he is going to bring the Saudis for prosecution too, especially in front of an international court.

But the Saudis are trying to avoid that.

The future of Yemen is going to be bright because we have the same situation in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries. The whole Arab world is now changing towards democracy.

The Saudis are going to pay the price because they are the ones who support the losing dictators. The revolution might reach them very soon if they keep doing that.

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