Yemen's Embattled President Speaks: The Interview Transcript

  • Share
  • Read Later
Yuri Kozyrev / NOOR for TIME

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks with TIME and the Washington Post in Sana'a on Sept. 29, 2011

(2 of 2)

So can you live together with [Mohsen and the Ahmars] in the future?
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 on Sunday that resulted in casualties of both soldiers and civilians — regardless of who he is or what his position is [in the country] — we have to bring them before the law.

Your crackdown on protesters has been violent. You have gotten international condemnation for using guns and heavy weapons on peaceful protesters. Why have you resorted to such violent crackdown measures?
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 media. But these actions ... these actions were performed by a group of people that wanted the blame to end up being on the state. They claimed that they are protecting [the protesters], and [the group] end up by shooting them and using these actions. There is like a trend, a media trend, by some of the media to call for the falling of regimes and replace them with nationalists, socialists and other different movements.

And now they are moving toward Islamists, and therefore, and a big evidence for that is now they are making propaganda about the regime in Sana'a. They are saying that the government is the one that is oppressing the protesters, but on the other hand, they are the ones who are oppressing the state itself by their actions. We are fighting al-Qaeda organization in Abyan in coordination with the Americans and Saudis. At the same time the American intelligence have knowledge that [al-Qaeda] are in contact with both the Muslim Brotherhood [the opposition Islah party, which is part of the JMP] and the military officers that are outlaws. And they [the Muslim Brotherhood and officers] told the Vice President, "Give us Abyan and we will stop the war in Abyan and al-Qaeda network there."

Do you think General Ali Mohsen and the Ahmars should be prosecuted, and will you transfer power as long as they remain in their own influential positions?
This depends on the results of the investigation and the analysis that are coming from Washington.

And will you transfer power if they are still in positions of influence?
No. The GCC initiative is clear. It says to remove all the elements causing tensions. Because 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 they are still decisionmakers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war.

I want to ask you about Yemen and U.S. relations, which is important: On the day you returned to Yemen ...
This is the last question.

On the day you returned to Yemen ...
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, whether they are from the Democratic Party or 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.

But the Americans ...
And these were accusations by analysts, diplomats and so on that turned out not to be true.

But the U.S. has asked you to step down ...
I am addressing the American public. I want to ask a question: Are you still keeping your commitment in continuing the 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. If yes, that will be good. But what we see is that we are pressurized by America and the international community to speed up the process of handing over power. And we know to where the power is going to go. It is going to al-Qaeda, which is directly and completely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next