President Saleh ends his 5-day reclusion and talks to al-Jazeera: We have two suspects, whom we will not hand over to the USA [Archives:2002/15/Copy of front]

April 8 2002


In his live interview on al-Jazeera Satellite Channel last Friday, President Saleh tackled several issues mainly concerning the current Mideast crisis and the US-Yemeni security agreement.
USA harshly criticized
The President harshly criticized the USA for its stance towards the Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
We reject any statement describing the Palestinians struggle for independence as terrorism. This is an attempt to fake the facts, he said.
He also brought up several important issues, including training of Yemeni security staffers by American experts.
Presidents reclusion
Concerning his reclusion the President said, I put myself into reclusion in protest against the inability to help the Palestinians.
What would you say when you are asked what you have done for the Palestinians who are being slaughtered. It is just better not to answer at all.
This was my way to express my disappointment at what is going on. It had nothing to do with the response to my call upon Arab leaders to hold an emergency summit.
Arab Joint Defense agreement
President Saleh stressed that the step to be taken is to implement the Arab Joint Defense Agreements, which call upon Arab nations to join forces to combat the enemy in a virtual war.
However, he denied that he is calling for a war with Israel, but he insisted on the need to supply arms and men to the Intifada to resist the Israeli aggression.
What is Israel? If we calculate the forces of Israel, its tanks, its technology, and compare that to the Arab world, we would get a 50:1 ration. One Israeli soldier to 50 Arab soldiers Why are we making a big deal out of Israel? he exclaimed!
Breaking off links with Israel
The President however, did not clearly indicate whether he would call upon Arab countries with normalized relations with Israel to break off ties with Israel.
I will not ask those countries to sever their links with Israel if they could make use of them to stop what is happening in the occupied territories. But if such links were of no use, he added, the decision lies on the conscience of those countries leaders.
Concerning the tens of demonstrations supporting Palestinians, the president said, We are not in support of demonstrations. We are with practical steps. Demonstrations are the means of the weak.
He refused the idea or al-Jazeera concerning a proposed initiative to prevent Yemeni Jews from traveling to Israel by saying, We only have 200 Jews and they are free to leave or stay. However, we welcome the return of the Jews in Israel, which could help disintegrate Israel. But they seem unwilling to come back.
Arab media criticized
The president surprisingly criticized the Arab press and accused it of terrorizing the public. This is media terrorism. You are terrorizing the Arab public by showing Israel as such a powerful bugbear that cannot be defeated. he said.
Anti-terror experts already in Yemen
As for the American Anti-terror security experts in Yemen the president said, As for the American anti-terror security experts and technical equipment, it is not we who requested them. It is the US government that said prove your genuineness and let the experts in so we let them in.
He said there were 40 experts who had completed their tasks and left the country. They usually stay for three or four weeks only. he said.
The president also expressed his satisfaction with the US-Yemeni security agreements saying that they would help Yemen security-wise.
He insisted that the hijacker of the Yemenia airplane which had the American Ambassador on board-, and the person who threw the bombs at the US embassy were both mentally disturbed.
Reacting to the comment by al-Jazeera This means you have a lot of insane people in Yemen!, he said We are like other countries, but we have more transparency and reveal what others would conceal. We are not employees with the Americans so as to make them believe us or not.
As for the two Qaeda suspects al-Harethi and al-Ahdal, the President said, We have two suspects, whom we will not hand over to the USA. They are asked to surrender themselves to the authorities for investigation as they are still suspects only. We are cooperating with the Americans not to please them, but for the security and peace of Yemen.
Using oil as pressure rejected
The President rejected the Iraqi idea of using oil as a means to pressure the USA by saying, America has an oil reserve that it could use for years to come. It does not need our oil, and suspending oil export to the USA will not solve the problem. But it could still be considered as one of the steps.
War may be eminent
The President did not rule out the possibility of another war with Israel, even though he did not explicitly favor it as the first option. Yemen is the country that suffered from war most during the last 40 years. We had wars in 1962, 1970, 1994, and other wars We have extensive experience in wars, but do not call for a new one. However, there are steps that we should take including the activation of the Arab Joint Defense agreement, using the oil weapon, using normalized links with Israel, etc Answering the question on how to send troops to Israel if no neighboring country will open its borders to allow those soldiers in, the president replied, We know how to fight them. If we have to, we will have our soldiers land by parachutes [smiling].
Final conclusion
In his final remarks, the president answered the question on the possibility of the failure of the upcoming US Foreign Secretary Powel Collins visit to the region by saying, I hope that Arab leaders will discuss the issue and realize the danger in the current situation and must meet to make a new joint stand once Powels mission does not succeed.

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