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.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is seriously concerned about an increase in fighting in the city of Taiz.
In a press release issued on Friday, the ICRC said that there has been indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, and essential infrastructure is being destroyed.
"We call on the parties on the ground in Taiz to allow the safe passage of ambulances, medical workers and aid workers so that lives can be saved and the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance can be made possible," said the head of the ICRC in Taiz, Olivier Chassot.
The ICRC indicated that the health situation in the governorate is particularly dire. The handful of hospitals still functioning are having to deal with large numbers of wounded people as well as severe shortage of supplies. The ICRC has had serious difficulties in delivering lifesaving medical and surgical supplies to a number of hospitals in Taiz.
The European Union (EU) has affirmed that the recent airstrikes on Hodeida port imposed an immediate hindrance to imports food, fuel, medicines and other supplies.
A joint Statement by the Spokespersons of the High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the bombings in Yemen of port facilities in Hodeida said:
“The current conflict in Yemen is having a dramatic impact on the civilian population whose needs have reached alarming proportions. Access for the delivery of humanitarian aid and essential supplies, including fuel, food and basic commodities to ordinary Yemenis remains extremely difficult.
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described the humanitarian situation in Yemen as catastrophic.
"The humanitarian situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Every family in Yemen has been affected by this conflict. The people are facing immense hardship. And it is getting worse by the day. The world needs to wake up to what is going on," said Peter Maurer, who just ended a three-day visit to Yemen on Tuesday.
"The compounded effects of intense fighting and import restrictions are having a dramatic impact on health care," Maurer said. "Health facilities have been massively attacked as well as suffering collateral damage."
President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer has said that the ICRC will expand its activities in Yemen.
In a press conference in Sana’a on Sunday, Maurer affirmed that his visit will achieve positive and prompt results with regards to the humanitarian response in Yemen.
He said that he is optimistic that the visit will result in doubling the ICRC efforts to face this “disastrous” situation as what the ICRC and its partners currently provide cannot cover all the humanitarian aspects, specially that the country is under siege.
The Saudi aggression continued on Sunday to launch airstrikes on several governorates in the country.
A security source said Saudi war jets launched a number of raids on different parts of Hajjah governorate, destroying the building of the Roads and Bridges Authority in Haradh town in addition to many air raids carried out by drones in the town.
The Saudi warplanes also launched many raids on al-Hamara area of Lahj governorate, which led to numerous fatalities, including women and children. More than 16 sorties were carried out against areas of Muthalath al-Anad, al-Anad Air Base, Abain and Karesh, the source said.
In Dhamar governorate, the Saudi warplanes launched an airstrike targeted the Yemeni Economic Corporation building in Ma'abar city.
The United Nations has announced that the number of Yemeni internally displaced persons (IDPs) due the military aggression had doubled in less than two weeks.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the number of Yemeni IDPs had increased twice in 19 governorates since 17 April 2015 when 150 thousand Yemeni IDPs were registered.
It warned of the gravity of situations in Yemen because of the aggression.
The statement pointed out that the big number of IDPs are from the northern Hajjah governorate, in addition to southern Al-Dhalea and Abyan governorates.
Amnesty International has called for investigating the killing of hundreds of civilians, including scores of children, by the Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes across Yemen.
"The month-long campaign of air strikes carried out by Saudi Arabia and its allies has transformed many parts of Yemen into a dangerous place for civilians," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
"Millions of people have been forced to live in a state of utter terror, afraid of being killed at home. Many feel they are left with no choice but to move away from their destroyed villages to an uncertain future."
The UN has stated that more than 550 civilians have been killed including more than 100 children since the military campaign began on 25 March.
Amnesty International said it has documented eight strikes in five densely populated areas, which are Sa'ada, Sana'a, Hodeida, Hajjah and Ibb, noting that several of these strikes raised concerns about compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law.
According its research, Amnesty International said at least 139 people, including at least 97 civilians, 33 of whom were children were killed during the strikes, and 460 individuals were injured, at least 157 whom are civilians.