In an interview with Press TV, author and political analyst Kevin Ovenden talks about Yemeni incumbent President Ali Abdullah Saleh losing the support he needs to suppress anti-government protests, and Saudi Arabia ~ backed by Western powers ~ trying to keep him afloat until a favorable replacement is found.
With the resignation of dozens of politicians from parliament, the ruling party, army personnel, key tribal allies ~ we're hearing even his own brother ~ is President Saleh losing the support he needs to quell these protests?
I think there's no doubt he's losing the support he needs and that was apparent on Friday with the reaction from the Yemeni society at the slaughter, gunning down, of over 50 peaceful demonstrators. The question is how long, and whether he's prepared to fight it out, and in so doing try to turn to the methods used by Colonel Gaddafi in Libya of drowning the popular uprising, drowning the youth lead democratic revolution in Sa'ana, in a complex civil war.
I think that the options they have are limited; but at the moment, he's been trying to hang on and to continue to enjoy the support of the Saudis and certainly not the condemnation of the United States or any of the European powers who are otherwise engaged, shall we say, bombing in Libya in the name of humanitarianism.
One analyst was describing Saudi Arabia as the US equipped country playing the role of policeman in the region. How do you think they are planning to deal with Yemen considering they also have their own concerns regarding the crisis they're facing at home?
Well, Saudi Arabia is the gendarme of reactionary interests and global corporate interests inside the Arabian Peninsula. How that country is trying to deal with it, I think, is extremely difficult. And what we're seeing playing out over this, as so much else over the entire Arab region, is fractions, divisions, uncertainty in the responses by the traditional regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and their sponsors the United States, Britain, France, and so on.
I also believe the response that Ali Abdullah Saleh has been lukewarm. [Saudi Arabia] senses he's going but they don't know quite yet what's going to replace him. They are going flat out, as the United States and all the other powers will try to ensure that whatever comes after Ali Abdullah Saleh is congruent with the interests inside the region, but I'm not at all sure they can guarantee that possibility.
The reason is that in addition to long-standing political forces inside of Yemen, the tribal leaders ~ political formations in the north and south of the country ~ there's a new factor in the situation which is the youth led uprising in Sa'ana and the people identify with the other revolutionary processes in the region like in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, and they want something much better that the Saudis or the United States would like to give them.
The stance that has been adopted in the case of Yemen and Bahrain is very much liked by the United States and a lot of people have been saying that the stance that has been adopted by the United States and Yemen, at the best is vague. And we've been seeing the same kind of stance in Bahrain where this is not the stance adopted by the people in Libya, even about the people in Egypt or Tunisia. Do you see that vagueness as well, and how do you interpret it?
It is very much vague. We can be absolutely certain because of the long standing relationship with Ali Abdullah Saleh that they would prefer him to remain in power. They would prefer that there was no protest taking place inside Yemen, just as they would have preferred to hold on to Mubarak and on to Ben Ali, and that there would be no unrest, no war taking place inside of Libya.
But things don't quite work like that for them. And they are desperately trying to find out which way they have to bend to better defend their interests. I think they're going to come down on the side that Saleh has to go and they will desperately try to find somebody who is in accord with US, Western and Saudi interests.
I must say that the US does this because of the interests of the US. It may be quite convenient for some Americans to find a small amount of Jewish who are responsible but I'm afraid this is the United States of America which has been allied to Saudi Arabia since before the state of Israel was created.
It certainly doesn't explain what's taking place, not in the United States, but in France and Britain. France and Britain have led the drive for an air war, a war in fact, over Libya. The double standards are clear. We know what they like to do. Whether they are able to do that is a very different question indeed.