Yemen Opposition Wants Saleh Sanctions
A leading opposition figure in Yemen has called on Western nations to impose sanctions on President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/16/2011, 5:43 PM
Hamid al Ahman
A leading opposition leader in Yemen called on Western countries to freeze the assets of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is clinging to power despite months of protest against his 33-year rule.
Shaikh Hamid Al Ahmar, a key tribal figure who belongs to Yemen's main opposition party, the Islamist Islah, also lashed out at what he termed as Saleh's sons' "desperate" attempts to keep the family in power while their father recovers in Saudi Arabia from a June assassination attempt.
"I think that the international community, the United States and the Europeans, should stand firmly with the Yemeni nation," Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar told Reuters in an interview in the capital Sana'a on Tuesday.
“They should do what they did in Egypt. We don't need what is going on in Libya. We don't need that much support. But support like what was done in Egypt would be sufficient enough to finish things," he said.
"We would like them to really buy the friendship of the Yemeni nation by supporting them," he went on to say.
Hamid also noted, “I think Yemenis would be capable to free Yemen of terror within months. I don't think a few people would stand in front of a nation. They would stand in front of a regime which is not serious in fighting them.”
Governments worldwide have responded to crackdowns on Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan protesters this year by freezing their long-time leaders' assets. But Saleh has proved a shrewd political survivor, and remains in power.
The United States, in particuliar, finds itself in a difficult position with Saleh as it does not want to be seen as opposing a popular uprising, but needs Saleh's continued cooperation to pursue its war on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula, which has established a stronghold in the south of the country. Imposing sanctions on Saleh could endanger US operations in the region -- as could a change in government.
Al Ahmar praised Saudi Arabia's role in mediating the crisis.
"I see the Gulf initiative, which was essentially a Saudi effort, as one of the supporting aspects of the revolution," he said. Saudi Arabia has spearheaded a Gulf Arab plan to end Yemen's political deadlock by easing Saleh out of office, but he backed out of signing it three times at the very last minute.
Saleh had said he would look at reviving the initiative, which would see him hand over power to Vice-President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, but his opponents question whether this is yet another stalling tactic.
Away from the negotiating table, violence flared anew in Yemen's south, where Islamist terrorists have exploited a political vacuum, taking over at least two cities in the volatile province of Abyan, including its capital Zinjibar.
Two soldiers and four terrorists were killed in fighting on Saturday when terrorists attacked an army compound and a sports stadium used as a makeshift military base, a local official said. Seven more terrorists were killed in air strikes after planes were sent to help repel them.