Yemen’s Double-Pronged Ditch [Archives:1998/08/Front Page]

February 23 1998

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh pushed forward a double-pronged approach in search of a peaceful solution to the present crisis between Iraq and the US-led UN pressure. The President made a personal appeal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussain to respect the UN Security Council resolutions in full. “There is no way out for Iraq except to comply fully with the UN resolutions,” he told Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Said Al-Sahaf. The President has also clearly opposed the military build-up in the region.
“We also urge the US to give Iraq some room for a reasonable compromise in the procedures leading to the implementation of UN resolutions. We are totally opposed to a military action because it will not achieve the goals stipulated in the resolutions,” President Saleh said.
Yemen has constantly argued in favor of a peaceful resolution to the showdown. “The region cannot take a major military jolt which may have, uncalculated repercussions and side-effects,” he said.

At another level, Dr. Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani, Foreign Minister, also talked extensively with Iraqi officials on the matter. “I urged them not to invite problems and difficulties.” He indicated that while Yemen was sympathetic to the plight of the Iraqi people, and seeks an early lifting of the sanctions, it is clear that Iraq needs to comply with the UN resolutions by giving the UNSCOM teams a free hand to do their work. Along the same lines, a senior advisor to President Ali Abdullah Saleh described the situation like this. “It is like taking medication for all illness. You have to take the full course. Otherwise, you cannot be assured of treatment. Iraq has to comply in full. There are no half solutions.”
Meanwhile, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has just returned from an extended international visit, raised the issue with various leaders, including the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, Chinese President Jiang Zemen, and Indonesian President Suharto. In all capitals, there was a general sense that the US is bullying Iraq, but no country is willing to lift a finger to help it. But Iraq can help itself, by adhering to UN resolutions.