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Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Yemeni Presidential Adviser Salem Saleh | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Salem Saleh, adviser to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has said that the remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the parcel bombs that originated from Yemen “reflects the extent to which the fingers of Israel’s Mossad are involved in such dirty cases”.

In a telephone interview from Sanaa with Asharq Al-Awsat, the presidential advisor pointed out that the fact that the date of the US [mid-term] elections coincided with the issue of the parcel bombs “requires scrutiny” in order to uncover the party that stood behind such deeds. Saleh praised the role of the custodian of the two holy shrines and his concern for Yemen. He also praised the security coordination between Riyadh and Sanaa in combating terrorism. Saleh rejected the stands of several Yemeni online sites and newspapers that reported that Saudi Arabia did not inform the Yemeni side about the parcel bombs. Saleh called on the US Administration to review its policy “so as not to deceive public opinion with words that are incompatible with its deeds on the ground”. Saleh called for a comprehensive national reconciliation in Yemen to resolve the consequences of the crisis with the Huthists, the Southern Mobility Movement, and Al-Qaeda.

The text of the interview follows:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are your thoughts regarding the parcel bombs that were said to have originated in Yemen?

[Saleh] First of all, we are waiting for the results of the investigations that several countries are holding on the issue of the parcel bombs. In this context, it is important to combine all efforts to confront the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms and shapes. Parcel bombs and so on are terrorist means that kill innocent civilians. Such deeds should be condemned and repulsed regardless of their motives or the sides that stand behind them. However, the appearance of such parcel bombs on certain occasions, such as the current US congressional elections, the materials that were used in making them, and the way they were made – in a highly sophisticated manner that are known only to intelligence services like the Mossad – drive us to scrutinize the matter in order to expose the party that stands behind such deeds. It is hard for states or individuals with modest means to design such parcels.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you believe that there is an Israeli role, at least in inflating the issue of the parcel bombs in the media?

[Saleh] We do not rule out an Israeli role. The statement by the Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) in this matter reflects the degree to which Israel’s Mossad is involved in such dirty matters.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that western capitals may push Yemen to a war under the banner of fighting Al-Qaeda or terrorism?

[Saleh] Former US President George W. Bush adopted a radical rightist policy that entangled the United States in several swamps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia and in preemptive wars of attrition. After the notorious 11 September “attacks”, he almost involved the United States in a losing war in the Middle East region under the slogan of fighting terrorism. Had it not been for the wisdom of the leaders of these countries that did not become entangled in Bush’s schemes, the “creative chaos” for which former US Secretary of State Condoleezza used to promote would have prevailed in the region.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] So how do you interpret the US conduct towards Yemen and the region in general?

[Saleh] US President Obama – whom we welcomed when he came to power, who was received in Cairo on behalf of our Arab and Muslim brothers, and who delivered his historic speech at Cairo University in which he appealed to the Arab and Muslim peoples and governments to help him carry out a new American vision – is now not different from his predecessor President Bush. We admit that Obama enjoyed the welcome and admiration of the Arab and Muslim peoples. However, under the pressure of the radical right, he is now vacillating and returning to the same former US policy, particularly regarding his failure to persuade the extremist Israeli leadership to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people. President Obama is also failing to end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and is following the policy of intervention at varying degrees in the domestic affairs of all the countries in the region. All this is different from the ideas that Obama presented in his speech in Cairo to the Arab and Muslim world in an attempt to improve the image that he inherited from his predecessor. Thus, the United States should review its policy in order not to deceive public opinion with words that are incompatible with its practices on the ground.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the role of Yemen and President Ali Abdullah Saleh in besieging Al-Qaeda? What is required on the Arab and international levels at the current stage?

[Saleh] There is strong coordination and security cooperation on a high level between Yemen and its neighbors, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This has led to international cooperation between our countries, the United States, and the European Union. However, gaps still exist and terrorism is deriving its strength from these gaps and exploiting them to hit vital targets in Yemen and other countries. One of the principal problems facing the security organs in these countries is that the sources of terrorism were not eradicated, particularly in the poor countries. Thus, these countries should be helped to solve its internal problems, such as poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy. Relying only on hunting down and apprehending some members of this or that terrorist organization and considering that a step toward victory over the terrorism coming from these poor countries is no longer a solution at all.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you assess the Saudi role? What is required from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

[Saleh] From reading several Yemeni electronic sites and newspapers that are attacking the kingdom regarding the issue of not informing the Yemeni side about the parcel bombs, I must say out of love and loyalty to the kingdom that these sites and newspapers do not express the position of the Yemeni people in the north or the south. The Yemeni people respect, appreciate, and love the custodian of the two holy shrines and the fraternal Saudi people and government. We deal with the kingdom’s leadership, people, and government the way we deal with our own brethren. Our dreams and aspirations are united in origins, religion, and neighborliness. We have repeatedly emphasized that there is constant coordination and strong security cooperation between Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] So how can Yemen be helped in overcoming its most prominent issues, such as Al-Qaeda, the Huthists, and the Southern Mobility Movement?

[Saleh] In my book that was published a few months ago entitled “A Remedy for Contentious National Issues”, I said that Yemen needs urgent national reconciliation. The primary responsibility for achieving this reconciliation lies on the shoulders of the current official authorities because there is no one to compete with it in the first place and there is no one that is threatening its existence in its positions. There should a suitable groundwork for national reconciliation with the participation of all. After that, a program of action can be drawn up to solve and implement all the issues.