Yemen official decries call for Saleh to quit

SANAA Sat Oct 1, 2011 6:44pm EDT

1 of 2. A boy holds a poster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a weekly Friday prayers attended by Saleh's supporters in Sanaa September 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

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SANAA (Reuters) - The United States showed a lack of respect for democracy and its partners in fighting terrorism by renewing its call for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, a Yemeni official said on Saturday.

Washington made its call for Saleh to resign on the day it announced that a CIA drone strike had killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric regarded as one of al Qaeda's most eloquent English propagandists, in Yemen's northern al-Jawf province.

Yemeni security sources said they had located Awlaki with intelligence gathered from a captured al Qaeda operative.

On Friday, the White House said Awlaki's killing had not altered its demand that Saleh sign a plan under which he would hand over power. Saleh, who has repeatedly shied away from the Gulf-brokered transition deal, has faced more than eight months of protests by Yemenis demanding an end to his 33-year rule.

"After this big victory in catching Awlaki, the White House calls on the president to leave power immediately? The Americans don't even respect those who cooperate with them," Yemen's Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi told Reuters.

Analysts say Saleh has been an inconsistent partner to the West in its fight against al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, sometimes helping U.S.-led efforts and sometimes, his critics say, exploiting the militant threat to win more support from abroad.

"President Saleh was an elected president...They (the Americans) called on us to be partners in the fight against terrorism. The president suffered a great deal for the war on terror. From their position, it seems they do not respect democracy," Janadi said.

Saleh returned last week from Saudi Arabia where he was treated for wounds sustained in a June assassination attempt.

In recent weeks, fighting has erupted between loyalist forces and troops loyal to the opposition.

Sanaa residents said on Saturday evening there were loud explosions and sporadic gunfire in areas near the area where protesters have camped out for months to press Saleh to quit. In Taiz, south of the capital, the opposition said shelling in a residential area killed one civilian and wounded three others.

Protesters said the timing of Awlaki's death just after the president's return was a ploy by Saleh to hang on to power. The political opposition said it would not let the killing affect negotiations.

"We don't feel the operation will have an impact on the political future, rather, we feel that the deal is reaching a conclusion," said Mohammed al-Sabri, an opposition spokesman.

FATHER TO RECEIVE AWLAKI REMAINS

Yemeni security officials denied media reports that among those killed with Awlaki was Ibrahim al-Asiri, a Saudi citizen believed to have made the explosives used in two foiled plots by the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to blow up U.S.-bound planes.

Janadi said Awlaki's remains would be picked up by his father on Saturday. "It is not a corpse, he is in pieces... The Yemeni government will not interfere with any type of final rites."

In al-Jawf, Awlaki family friends said relatives were unsure how to mourn a man the United States named a "global terrorist."

"We plan to pick up Anwar's remains and bury them but we haven't decided yet whether we will have an official mourning ceremony or not," a friend of the family told Reuters.

A leader of Awlaki's tribe, the Awalik, said on Friday that a tribal delegate had gone to al-Jawf to confirm the bearded preacher's death.

"Why kill him in this brutal, ugly way?" asked Abubakr al-Awlaki. "Killing him will not solve their (the Americans') problem with al Qaeda, it will just increase (AQAP's) strength and sympathy in this region."

In southern Yemen, the army killed 20 militants linked to AQAP in fighting near the provincial capital Zinjibar after recapturing the city from them last month, a military official told Reuters. Six soldiers also died.

The army is trying to retain control of the coastal capital of Abyan province, which lies east of a strategic shipping lane. Militants seized several cities in the area."

In Jaar, a city seized by militants, residents said Yemeni warplanes twice bombed a hospital seized by gunmen. Clouds of smoke poured out of the building and at least five bodies were removed, they said.

The United States and neighboring Saudi Arabia fear unrest in Yemen will embolden AQAP to strikes on the region and beyond.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon; Additional reporting by Dhuyazen Mukhashaf in Aden; Editing by Robert Woodward)

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Comments (9)
brian-decree wrote:
This man is NOT conneted to the ‘Al Qaeda’ we’ve all heard about.

This organization apparently decided to change their name to Al Qaeda in 2009. Only 3 years ago.

Reuters would do well to point this out as there is ENORMOUS speculation between experts as to what extent Al Qaeda even exists, if at all…

If you change your name to Al Qaeda you are not Al Qaeda… you just share the same name.

It is very misleading to suggest that the Al Qaeda we all have heard about exists in any kind of structured, franchised or interconnected form whatsoever, because there is simply to evidence to show this.

I think western powers’ propaganda stands to benefit greatly from the existence of a large international terrorists organization.

Especially when the alternative, the TRUTH, is that since the war on terrorism started the size and NUMBER of different groups committed to the war on America has increased exponentially.

This FACT is very embarressing so they are all just called Al Qaeda these days, or ‘Al Qaeda linked’, when in fact they are all individually fighting against the US empire for their own reasons and of their own accord.

This proves one thing, when the US sends more soldiers to Islamic countries, terrorism increases exponentially around the world.

An embarrassing truth.

Oct 01, 2011 6:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
fuzzywuzafuzz wrote:
Wasn’t Al-awaki a US Citizen?

The Whitehouse is now openely stating they are killing US Citizens?

I’m pretty sure theres a constitutional issue in there somewhere…

not that that “really” matters, does it…

Oct 01, 2011 7:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
oceanskate7 wrote:
So, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is a nice democratic type leader then?? I doubt it’s all that simple.

Oct 01, 2011 7:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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