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US Arms Used on Yemeni Protesters

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TEHRAN, March 15 (ICANA) – While Yemeni President blames Israel and the US for the current uprisings, a political analyst says weapons used against the Yemeni protesters were mainly supplied by the US, who doubled its military aid to the country last year.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:29:25 PM
US Arms Used on Yemeni Protesters

Press TV conducted an interview with Political Analyst Sarah Marusek in Beirut to discuss the topic.

Q: Sarah Marusek we just heard from two high-ranking military officers from Yemen who have defected to the side of the opposition. We have also seen tribal chiefs who have joined the opposition against Saleh. It's hard to see Saleh coming out of this, as he said he's going to do his most to defend his regime.


Sarah Marusek:These are definitely promising developments we're seeing in Yemen, finally. People have been coming to the streets everyday for so many days. It's very nice to see that now you have a lot of high-leveled defections happening.

I think this is a natural affect from what was happening last week when we had Saleh on Thursday saying he was willing to allow the country to draft a new constitution and only days later massive violence in the streets with people suffering, a lot of people were wounded and dying as well. And so I think that this really is the result of these conflicting actions by Saleh's regime, and many more are choosing to side with the protesters. So this a very good sign indeed for Yemen.

Q: Also can you give us your views on the reaction by Saleh, a couple weeks back, in which he has said that this has been orchestrated by Israel, under the watch of the US. It seems like there's a crack there at least on the surface of the tie Saleh has with the US. And of course we know Yemen serves in terms of the US, their interest with the fight against al-Qaeda?

Sarah Marusek: Indeed. Yemen is supposedly a key ally in the fight against al-Qaeda. Often time this is a sort of umbrella to allow arms shipment to be sent to Yemen to oppress Yemenis, not necessarily members of al-Qaeda.

So this has always been a very tenuous relationship on the ground although the US has held onto its ally President Saleh. Even last year US military aid to Yemen doubled, and so it's likely that a lot of the weapons being used against protesters are coming from this military aid from the US as well as the UK.

It's interesting to hear Saleh saying things like that, it also sounds very similar to what Gaddafi was saying in regards to the protests being promoted by the US or at the same time also being promoted by al-Qaeda.

I think these are just signs of desperate leaders who are trying to rally people maybe who aren't necessarily very involved with the protests. Maybe this is his attempt to get people who maybe aren't in the streets, because of political or economic reasons and he thinks that this is a way to mobilize them to support him, but it obviously isn't working at this point. This looks like the beginning of an end for Saleh.

Q: It's also interesting to look at the US recommendations to Yemen. US Advisor John Brennan said that President Barack Obama has urged Saleh to keep his pledge in terms of evolving power, but at the same time he said the opposition needs to support the plan. This in a way implies that the US wants Saleh to stay, does it?

Sarah Marusek: Absolutely. I think the Statement by Brennan is trying to make out that the protesters on the streets are in some way responsible for their current oppression, for the bullets that are being fired upon them. It seems absolutely ridiculous to call upon protesters to be responsible.

The call is that the protesters as well as the government have to come into dialogue. So there's no talk about really the government compromising, it's really more about the protesters having to disperse, and not take to the streets. So really it's a one way recommendation by the US, and it's not in any way supportive of the protest movement and the opposition. That was a really bad move, being now it seems that Saleh's regime is starting to crumble.

Q: I also want to mention Bahrain, in which one of the highlights of its developments today have been the Saudi military's movement into Bahrain. This comes as US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Bahrain and there's speculation that he may have had a hand in the approval of the Saudi military to move into Bahrain. Tell us what the repercussions of this may be because why would they need the Saudi forces? Why couldn't they just handle the situation themselves?

Sarah Marusek: This is of huge significance, who exactly requested the troops to come in? Was it the United States? Was it Secretary Gates when he was there on Saturday? Or was it the Saudi Monarchy? Or was it the Bahraini King, the Al-Khalifa regime.

It signals definite problems with Bahraini Monarchy and it shows that they're not necessarily going to make the concessions that they have been so-called offering for the last several weeks, and you may start seeing splitting as well. It's difficult because a lot of the forces King uses to defend his system are actually coming from Asia. They may be Bahraini citizens at this point but they're newly Bahraini citizens if at all, so the defections may not mean as much as they would in a place like Yemen.

Q: If indeed the US is the one who has given Saudi Arabia the approval for military intervention, as the UAE is also joining forces with Saudi Arabia, has it in a sense lost the clout in foreign policy in the region?

Sarah Marusek: I doubt that the US really ever had clout in foreign policy in this region and I think that the actions by Saudi Arabia are really similar to the actions of the Israeli occupation or the Iraqi occupation. And I think that this just shows a level of force in the face of democratic demonstrators. Some of them are even willing to still maintain a monarchy in Bahrain. They're not talking about radical changes in Bahrain; they're only talking about getting their rights, having access to jobs, to parliamentary seats.

So this is definitely a popular movement that the US should be supporting whole-heartedly, and instead it's allowing and ordering its allies' troops to invade the country. It's a huge disaster.

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