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West Should Confront Yemeni Leader

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TEHRAN, May 26 (ICANA) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains in a serious struggle to maintain power, as widespread opposition protests weaken his rule throughout the country.
Thursday, May 26, 2011 1:08:13 PM
West Should Confront Yemeni Leader

Press TV has conducted an interview with Mohamed Qubaty, a Yemeni opposition activist and a former advisor to the Yemeni prime minister about the situation in the country.

Q: The latest news coming out of Yemen is that at least five people have been killed and many others injured; and this near the residence of a powerful opposition tribal leader.

Now, there have been clashes between the government forces and supporters of a sheikh whose name is Sadeq-al-Ahmar, and this has taken place in the capital in Sana'a. Of course, tensions are still quite high in Yemen, as still no solution has been found for the situation taking place.

How do you see this latest development, and how significant is this latest development today, with this clash taking place at the residence of a very well-known tribal leader? And welcome to the program, sir.

Qubaty: I think the situation now is that we are just at the verge of a fully-blown civil war. The man has been, you know, sending mixed signals all the time, continuing his plays of procrastination and delay, until he was cornered and it was obvious that he was not going to sign the deal at all, and the initiative faltered and failed.

Unfortunately, he was, the door was kept open still for him to sign the deal, and instead of taking a sort of reasonable route at the end, this was his last chance, he refused that and I think he felt that with the pressure now coming from all the world at him, must have followed the statements given by the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, [and] yesterday's statement by the European Union, I think this got him [to behave irrationality and he started] to use, as you said, brutal force.

Q: But, Mr. Qubaty, you mentioned different foreign entities, and mentioned that they are trying to put pressure on him; do you think that the various entities, for example, like Washington, or London, are really putting more pressure on Saleh right now? How do you see it?

Qubaty: Well, they haven't really used, they have got a lot of leverage; they are only sort of threatening to use something, but I think such a signal got him worried and it pushed him out to start to push the country into sort of, this is an armed conflict now; since yesterday, we have got more than 12 people killed, yesterday at least five, and today already seven. So, that's 12 people killed and he's continuing all these tactics.

His intentions are to push the country into a state of anarchy and turmoil, and just to tell the West: well, if you don't allow me to continue, then I'll just push it into that state, whereby your interests are going to be endangered. But, I think the West has stalled for a long time. It's time for them to bite the bullet and go forward, and start using real leverage on him. You haven't heard of any, until now, there has never been any freezing of his assets, any freezing of his funds outside his still important military equipment, they have not put a ban on that, they have not put a ban on travel.

Until now, all his atrocities against humanity have not moved towards international court or by the human rights council; so all of these leverages are still there, they are just only threatening to use them, and I think once he heard that he started to play the game. I don't think he should be allowed he's holding the world at ransom; I think that now they have got to come out clearly, and just bite the bullet and confront the man, really.

Q: Mr. Qubaty, we have some breaking news coming-in [that actually] there was a missile fired at the home of the dissident tribal chief, earlier today. So, Mr. Qubaty, if it really was a missile that was fired, does it seem like Saleh is trying to take this situation to a whole different level?

Qubaty: Yes, the news I've received, I think the ministry of the interior has been taken by the tribes. One of the most important entrance points from the north has been taken by the tribes, now; so I think we are moving.

The uprising was a peaceful one, and it's now taking a shape where it looks like there would be some confrontation, or armed confrontation. We have heard about missiles being, or airplanes hovering above the house of sheikh Sadeq-al-Ahmar. But, I think the situation is very, very serious, it's very serious.

Q: Now, you mentioned earlier that there are so many ways that the Western countries could have helped exert more pressure. One, first of all, mainly by cutting-off his monetary supply source, freezing his funds, and putting other types of sanctions, for example, that they're talking about doing to Syria right now, or they have intervened in Libya. Why do you think that they haven't done that so far?

Qubaty: It's a big puzzle actually, I mean that has actually made our people, the people in the streets that can't understand this sort of double-standard dealing, and that's why I've said until now, it has been lip-service.

And, since yesterday, we've heard statements, and today, there have been a lot of articles written in that sense; but, I think we want to see action, rather than words, and I think the interests of the West in Yemen are of much more importance than Libya, and perhaps Syria, unless Syria is related to the area because of Israel.

But, there in Yemen, if the situation goes out of hand, we in Yemen have received like a million refugees from Somalia and we have got the whole of the Gulf of Aden separating us from them. If the situation breaks, the least numbers of refugees which would be going towards the Gulf [of Aden] would amount to three to five million people, and then all the shipping lanes in Bab el Mandeb (strait), would just come to a standstill.

This situation is quite grave; I think they have got to understand that it's their interests now, they're not going to fend or defend the Yemeni people, but they have got to come out and really put their foot down to defend their interests and the interests of the world.

And I think our brothers in the [P]GCC they have been insulted more than three, four, five times now; I mean, the man was just playing games, like childish games.

He went and besieged the United Arab Emirates embassy, even though there were envoys there representing five different diplomats and ambassadors of all those big states and so on, and after that he comes out and still, the initiative was not at all pulled back, it was only suspended, giving him a chance to sign it, and instead of signing it, see where he's now moving, he is moving towards civil war.

Q: What does that mean exactly, moving towards civil war? Will the Yemeni people, up to now, they have basically decided not to take up arms against Saleh's government, is it likely that they will change their tactics and actually resist with weapons?

Qubaty: Obviously, if somebody is firing missiles at people's houses and so on, they won't stand peacefully now, that's obvious aggression, it's against law. I mean, the man is now taking the law into his own hands.

Perhaps I mentioned it with you more than once here, his actual exit plan depends on fragmenting the country, pushing it into a state of anarchy and disintegration, and then he wants to disappear with all the funds he embezzled, and the crimes he has committed against humanity; and that's his plan, it has been there all the time. He's now executing it on ground, he started executing it.

Q: Now, Mr. Qubaty, you said the West needs to understand that they need to do something because of their own interests, and also the interests of the world. Let's look at that a little bit more.

Do you think that the interests of the West, when looking at Yemen, are in line with the interests of the world? Are [Western] interests in line with the interests of the Yemeni people? Do you think that [these interests] are one?

Qubaty: Well, I think that there is some convergence of interests there. If the situation in Yemen falls into complete turmoil, and military confrontation, what happens to the shipping lanes? I mean, there is three billion barrels of oil passing through the strait of Bab el Mandeb, at least. And, if confrontation happens, I think those shipping lanes will be in danger.

And then again, Saudi Arabia is one of the most important oil-producing countries. If a state of anarchy starts there and then people start, refugees start moving across the borders, it's going to cause a lot of havoc, I think, in the economy of the world.

Q: How concerned do you think that Saudi Arabia itself is at this point with the situation that's going-on in Yemen? We know that the Saudis were involved with some of the other Arab, Persian Gulf countries in trying to get a proposal for Saleh to sign. Of course, we also know that they also wanted to basically exempt him from any type of prosecution. How concerned do you think that they are at this point in time?

Qubaty: I think I could have understood from early-on when they didn't want one of the rulers who was one ruling for thirty-three years, they didn't want him to be humiliated, I think they were trying to just protect him, that can be understood. But, once things go out of control to that stage, I think now they have got to weigh the interests of preventing the humiliation of one of the leaders, who was at one time their friend, or worry about the spilling of such events into the country, you have got to weigh one thing against another.

I think now things are going to, the fire is starting to approach them now. It's not a matter of just standing-by and saying well, we shouldn't allow people to humiliate a ruler. I think that is the question, now. I can feel that their interests, if they want to stand beside their interests, not only in the long, or mid-term, even short-term interests, I don't think a civil war in Yemen would be in their interests, at all.

Q: So, what do you think that Riyadh, at this point in time, would want to see, I don't want to say the total of the international community, but basically from Washington and London. What do you think they would want to see at this point in time, if really they are afraid of this situation spilling over across its own borders?


Qubaty: I feel that they have left the door open, but the man has shown that he doesn't act rationally, at all. I think now we should expect them, to convene again as [P]GCC countries, to at least push the fire towards the Arab League. And then from the Arab League things can go out towards the United Nations, at least on a humanitarian basis. But, I think that is their easiest way for them to wash their hands, pull the initiative, and to pass the fire to the Arab League, at least as they've done with Libya.

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