The US and Saudi Arabia are happy with their Yemeni puppet President Saleh until a suitable replacement is found to cater to imperialist interests, says an analyst.
In an interview with Press TV, Raza Kazim, from the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London, discusses the Western and Saudi role in the Yemen conflict.
Press TV: First of all, the landscape has changed in Yemen, and the today’s incident has indicated that.
Let’s try to figure out what President Saleh is thinking because he is creating new facts on the ground. These new facts on the ground, is it because he wants to avoid this [P]GCC initiative or is because he is hoping to degrade the main opposition, which is set to be the Al-Ahmar family, and create such bloodshed and chaos that everybody might be drawn into agreeing to stay on? What is your viewpoint on the maneuvering of the president?
Kazim: One of the things that this person is drawing strength from is the backing that he has managed to keep from the Americans. Remember, he is someone that is classified as a good friend, a classic situation.
Although, there are these initiatives going on, he has felt so much in control because of the backing that he’s received. He somehow feels he’s immune from some of these things. It’s beyond belief that even those people that would be classified as sympathetic to him and his situation, and have suggested certain things, he’s reneged on what was going to happen.
In terms of his position, he’s feeling that this bloodshed could actually, potentially, go on and he will be able to maintain his position as is. However, the situation is clearly changing and evolving.
The Americans, in the meantime, are trying to make sure that there is going to be some kind of manipulation of both the people who are, basically, in power and the opposition so that whatever side comes in there has enough time to build an opposition which they would be comfortable with.
Press TV: Is the United States – we could even put Saudi Arabia together because they appear to be on the same page – are they on reactionary mode when it comes to President Saleh?
Kazim: I think that they’ve been working on this for quite some time. The Saudis have been involved in Yemen for quite some time.
Press TV: In terms of recent conflicts, tell me what’s been going on recently as we have seen in the past couple of weeks or maybe even the past month, especially with that [P]GCC deal led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US.
Kazim: Saudi has been in a reactionary mode up to a point because they don’t know what’s happening on the streets. They can’t control the street, that’s their problem.
What they are trying to do is to manipulate the tribal leaders. They are trying to make sure that certain things happen in certain ways. For that, they’re not being reactionary, they are being proactive.
Where they have to react is when something happens out in the street. When the scale of the killing that goes on increases to a point where it’s going to be problematic for anyone to be able to hang on.
So, the idea that Saudi Arabia is being reactionary is only where it has to be. There is a lot of manipulation of the tribal leaders that is going on behind the scenes by Saudi Arabia. It has been documented, and it has been continuing.
Press TV: I don’t think one of the things the United States was counting on was the fact that the US-trained counter-terrorism forces have been used in Yemen against the other armed forces. This is the Special Forces under the command of Saleh’s son.
Break this down for me. You have these forces trained by the US under the command of Saleh’s son of which some are defecting. And then you have General Al-Ahmar. If you remember back in March, he was the senior military leader who defected. Curiously, he hasn’t really come into the forefront recently.
How is this going to pan out, these different scenarios of which, I assume, is not something that the United States anticipated, especially these US-trained counter-terrorism forces of which some have defected?
Kazim: This is precisely the problem that the United States is facing. Yemen is very strategically important to them and is also quite important for Saudi Arabia. Therefore, all of these things that they did not expect to happen, that you’ve outlined that are happening, are causing the whole calculations to change. These kinds of things are causing them problems. That’s why they wanted to keep this person on.
They have been quite happy, for example, in Egypt. To a certain extent they were caught unaware that Mubarak went. And they were happy to have something else come in its place which they were still relatively comfortable with.
Here, they haven’t got that comfort zone, that comfort blanket where they can say if that person goes then it doesn’t matter, our interests will still be protected – whatever you call interests. That kind of thing will still be happening.
And I think that’s why these problems exist, that this person is still there and is continuing to hang on because the Americans do not have a viable alternative that they feel that they can actually trust. I think there might well be discussions going on between the Saudis and the Americans as to what the way forward is going to be because things aren’t panning out the way they’ve been laid out to happen.
Press TV: We’ve had, recently, the youth group in a warning, “we call on the US, the EU, the permanent security council members to stop meddling against the will of the Yemeni people, to ensure freedom and democracy”.
So, how can this be stopped in terms of the influence, steering and molding that the US and Saudi Arabia are playing in the fate of the Yemenis?
Kazim: The Yemeni people need to keep on struggling, this isn’t going to go away by simply a call for that.
I think there’s also an issue that there needs to be much greater recognition from the people in the West to recognize the extent to which Western governments are meddling in the affairs of the Yemeni people. And we need to make sure that this meddling is counterproductive for the interests of the people of the Western countries.
Forget about the governments because they have their own agenda of what they want to try and do.
And I think until and unless that awareness is actually raised, this is something that should not be happening. The countries should be focusing on the energy and the financial crisis that is affecting the UK, the US and other places rather than spending money on meddling in these places then they’d be far better off. And I think there’s a whole list of things that can be talked about in that regard.
Bottom line is that they must stop meddling. And until that awareness is raised, that is not going to happen.