President Saleh shows support for Iraq [Archives:2004/772/Front Page]

September 13 2004

By Peter Willems
and Mohammed Khidr
Yemen Times Staff

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zeibari held talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and high government officials last week during the first visit of an Iraqi senior official to Yemen since Saddam Hussein's regime fell last year.
Speaking to the press after his meeting with Zeibari, President Saleh emphasized “Yemen's stand in support of Iraq and backing any effort that can end the occupation and achieve security and stability in Irraq”
The President also stressed the importance of the Iraqi people working together to unite the country and create a free and democratic state.
According to Zeibari, the meeting focused primarily on support from Arab states while Iraq gets ready for elections scheduled to take place at the beginning of next year and “rebuilding Iraq and preserving its security, unity and territorial “integrity
Zeibari said the talks did not focus on Yemen sending troops to assist bringing stability to Iraq.
Last July, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi called on Muslim nations to send forces to help stabilize the country. His appeal came a day after Saudi Arabia announced a proposal that would put together a multi-national Muslim force to be sent to Iraq.
The Yemeni government offered to send troops to help stabilize the country, but only after US-led coalition forces have left the country and with the soldiers operating under the auspices of the United Nations.
US military officials recently said that US troops will not be able to withdraw from Iraq over the next few years due to ongoing violence and attacks in the war-torn country.
Last week, the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003 reached 1,000. Although there are no official figures available, some have calculated that between 10,000 and 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war began.
“The Yemeni government has made a wise choice of not committing troops to Iraq” said a Yemeni analyst. “Sending forces to Iraq is a high risk and it looks like the United States is going to have to stabilize the country.”
US President George Bush and the Democratic candidate John Kerry have not mapped out in detail a plan to pull US troops out of Iraq while campaigning for elections next November.
Last week, US Central Command Chief John Abizaid said that rebel groups control more areas of Iraq than they did a year ago. Sam Gardiner, a consultant for the US Defense Department, also said that daily attacks on US soldiers have increased from an average of 20 per day in October 2003 to 87 a day last month. Some analysts are questioning how the Iraqi elections can be carried out in early 2005 while fighting continues to escalate.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, who met with Zeibari during his visit, is reported as assuring Zeibari that Yemen has been involved in helping to secure Iraq.
“Yemen took firm measures since the beginning of the Iraqi crisis to curb any attempt by Yemenis to infiltrate Iraq because we are keen on boosting this country's security and stability,” said Qirbi to Iraq's Foreign Minister.
After his meeting with Zeibari, Qirbi said Yemen is ready to help rebuild Iraq, and the talks included reactivating the Yemeni-Iraqi Joint Committee.
Zeibari also met with Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul Qader Bajammal during his two-day visit to Yemen.
Meanwhile, before his departure from Yemen at the end of his visit, Mr Zeibari had last Thursday met with an elite group from the Iraqi community living in Yemen. The meeting was held at his residence in Sheraton Hotel where Yemen Times representative had attended the meeting. Meeting with Iraqi commnunity abroad had been a gesture made for the first time by an Iraqi senior official since the downfall of the Saddam regime in Iraq. Continued on page 10

The visiting Iraqi foreign minister started the meeting with an introductory address explaining the present situation in Iraq, admitting that the interim government was facing many difficulties particualrly from the security standpoint, promising that the governemnt was exerting much efforts to restore security and stability to the country. The minister stressed that most security threats were from elements loyal to the former regime and outside elements who entered the country at the beginning of the war and occupation. They want to render Iraq as an arena where they would settle their account with American and British forces.
On the presence of the multi-national troops in Iraq the minister said it would be temporary state as their major role at present is to provide protetion to the country against external interventions in its internal affairs. mr Zeibari had meanwhile stressed that his government wuld next October hold census in preparation for the general elections scheduled to be hels at the beginning of next year. On his talks with president Ali Abdulla Saleh and other senior Yemeni officials, Mr Zeibari mentioned they were fruitful and charcterised by sincere brotherly spirit and the Yemeni side had shown all support for the people of Iraq, adding he had discussed with Yemeni oficials all aspects of bilateral relations and cooperation.
The Iraqi minister had after that listened to questions and remarks presented by some members of the Iraqi community in Yemen, particularly Iraqi teachers and university professors, explaining some difficulties and problems they were facing despite the great help and hospitality they were receiving from the Yemeni government and people. The minister promised that the Iraqi governemnt would not spare any efforts in trying to solve their problems, calling upon them to return to their country to contribute to building it after the fall of the former totalitarian regime, particularly that most of them were of high quality expertise in various walks of life.
Last week it was reported that the Yemeni government approved the new Iraqi ambassador to Yemen, Talal Al-Obeadi. Al-Obeadi, once the undersecretary of Iraqi's Foreign Ministry, will be the first Iraqi ambassador in Yemen under the Iraq's new government.