Almotamar.net, Saba - Sana'a- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has sat down for an interview with The Washington Post and Time Magazine in Sana’a.
Q: We would like to inquire about your health. Do you have any indications of who might have been behind the terrorist attack that nearly killed you on June 2?
SALEH: Thank you for asking about my health. About the incident, there has been an exchange of information between us and the United States. And they promised us they would analyze the subject by the end of September. So we are still waiting for the analysis from Washington.
Q: You have authorized your deputy, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to sign the GCC initiative. Why don’t you do it yourself, now that you are here? And if you could explain to me what is holding up the agreement, and how close is the government to signing it?
SALEH: First of all, the vice president was delegated according to a Republican declaration. And there isn’t any reason for it not to go through, whether I am in the country or out of it. There is nothing that would stop this declaration from going through.
Q: How close is the vice president to signing the agreement?
SALEH: The vice president is waiting for the other side. We are ready to sign the GCC initiative as it is. However, the Joint Meetings Parties say that they want from this initiative one point: that the president or the vice president signs and that within 30 days the president leaves power. And then the 60 days that the GCC has mentioned — they say that is not enough for elections. What is important to the JMP is to remove the president from power, and the country would then go through chaos. We are ready and willing to sign at any time. But we need to sign the GCC initiative as a whole, and we need timelines for the mechanism of executing it. We are not holding onto power, we are willing to leave power as stated in the agreement, within the days and hours that will be agreed upon.
Q: Yet many say you are stalling to sign the Gulf initiative.
SALEH: This is a misunderstanding. We are willing within the next hours and next days to sign it, if the JMP comes closer. We don’t want to prolong it. And we don’t want this crisis to continue. We want this country to get out of this crisis.
Q: And you are still committed to not running again when there are elections?
SALEH: As for me, I will retire — since the opposition has helped bring the president closer to retirement through the criminal act that happened at the presidential mosque.
Q: In recent days there has been heavy public criticism of you by Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen as well as the Ahmar clan. What is your response to this public criticism, and given the violence and mistrust that is unfolding, is it possible for all of you to remain in Yemen and work together?
SALEH: What kind of criticism?
Q: General Ali Mohsen put out a statement just the other day saying that you were driving the country to civil war.
SALEH: They make such statements every day. They are the ones who attack the military bases, the civilians and the protesters — the protesters who are moving around the city with the protection of Ali Mohsen and the Ahmars, using armed people. And they assassinate protesters from behind so they can blame the state. And I believe that the American intelligence is following this up and keeping a close eye on it and that they know exactly what is going on.
Q: So can you live together with them in the future?
SALEH: To be able to live with the other political powers, yes, there is no problem. But whoever was involved in the presidential attack and the incident two weeks ago that happened in Zubeiri Street ... that resulted in casualties of both soldiers and civilians — regardless of who they are or what their positions are, we have to bring them before the law.
Q: There is international condemnation for using violent against protesters. Why has the state resorted to such measures?
SALEH: This kind of action is not possible in Yemen. The constitution has given the right to Yemenis to gather and protest and to express their views through the media. But these actions. . . these actions were performed by a group of people that wanted the blame to end up falling on the state. They claimed that they are protecting the protesters and ended up shooting them and using these actions. There is a sort of trend, a media trend, by some of the media to call for the toppling of regimes and their replacement by nationalists, socialists and various other movements. And now they are moving toward Islamists, and a big evidence for that is they are making propaganda about the regime in Sana'a. They are saying that the government is the one that is oppressing the protesters, whereas the protesters are the ones who are oppressing the state itself by their actions. We are fighting the al-Qaeda organization in Abyan in coordination with the Americans and Saudis. At the same time, American intelligence has knowledge that al-Qaeda is in contact with both the Muslim Brotherhood and the military officers who are outlaws. And they told the vice president, “Give us Abyan, and we will stop the war in Abyan and the al-Qaeda network there.”
Q: Do you think Gen. Ali Mohsen and the Ahmars should be prosecuted?
SALEH: This depends on the results of investigation and analysis that are coming from Washington.
Q: And will you transfer power if they are still in positions of influence?
SALEH: The GCC initiative is clear. It says to remove all the elements causing tensions. If we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given in to a coup. If we transfer power and they are in their positions and are still decision makers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war.
Q: I want to ask you about Yemeni-U.S. relations.
SALEH: The Yemeni-American relationship is good. In fact, it has not been affected during the past 33 years. And we have relationships with many political powers in Washington, both in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. There have been some differences during the last Gulf war because of the Yemeni stance, but then the Americans realized that we were right and that we were not just defending the Iraqi regime, and these were accusations by analysts, diplomats and so on that turned out not to be true. I am addressing the American public. I want to ask a question: Are you still keeping your commitment to continue operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda? If Washington is still with the international community in fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda, who have disturbed the world peace, that will be good. But what we see is that we are pressed by America and the international community to speed up the process of handing over power. And we know where power is going to go. It is going to al-Qaeda, which is directly and completely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.