Yemenite President: “I Hope All Countries Bordering Israel Will Join the War”

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The following are excerpts from an interview with Yemenite President Ali Abdallah Saleh, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on August 1, 2006.

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Interviewer: “Do you expect the war to expand?”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “Yes.”

Interviewer: “To include Syria?”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “I would certainly hope that it expands. I would hope so, but the Israelis would not dare. They are frustrated in South Lebanon, so how could they expand the war? All Israeli cities would be within the range of the Syrian missiles. Syria is armed, and is ready for anything. It would be foolish, even more than foolish… I say in all honesty that the Israeli government is defeated. The Israeli army is also defeated by any standard. The Israeli government will fall. It will fall soon because it misjudged things. Israeli strategy is based on brief wars, on swift strikes. By now it has been 19 days, and the equation has changed. If Israel were to act foolishly and wage war against Syria, I expect Israel would find itself in an extremely difficult situation. Perhaps they would even leave the region, because their society is a mixture [of identities], full of contradictions.”

[…]

Interviewer: “Do you call upon the Syrian president to enter this war?”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “No, I do not call upon Syria to enter the war. But if war is imposed upon it, Syria has the right to defend itself.”

Interviewer: “Regarding international forces…”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “Why shouldn’t we involve Syria?”

Interviewer: “I am asking because you said you were hoping for this.”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “I hope that all the countries bordering with Israel, not just Syria, would enter the war. I meant the countries bordering with Israel. We will not enter the war officially, but we will open the borders to the fighters. We will allow the transfer of money and equipment, to support the Lebanese resistance and the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.”

[…]

“This war has become a duty incumbent upon us. Every Muslim has the individual duty to fight on this front.”

Interviewer: “Mr. President, do you support what has been said about incorporating Arab forces in the international force [in Lebanon]?”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “I haven’t heard this, but it is forbidden. I haven’t heard about this, but international forces must not serve as a buffer between the Israeli enemy and the resistance. It’s forbidden.”

[…]

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “I completely reject becoming a police force protecting the security of Israel. Even the agreements between Israel and its neighboring Arab regimes were signed under certain circumstances and have greatly restricted us. Some of these agreements include restrictions. Restrictions that apply to the regimes ñ keep them, but let the people, the masses, act. Let the people donate money, equipment, weapons, and young men who will join the resistance.”

Interviewer: “Do you think that today…”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “Wait just a minute… Just as we helped Afghanistan to fight the Communist occupation back then ñ why not help our brothers in Palestine and in Lebanon, who have Arab blood, with mujahideen, with fighters. Why don’t we help them, and send money and missiles, like we sent to Afghanistan in order to fight the Communists? This is my opinion, and I present it to the Arab public. This is what we must do. If we do not enter [the war] as regimes, and if we say Hizbullah is dragging us into a war of its choosing ñ a war that we, the regimes, did not choose… In such a case, we will not enter the war as regimes, as regular armies, with our air forces and our missiles, but we should allow people to volunteer.”

[…]

Interviewer: “The secretary-general of Hizbullah said that this is a battle of the nation. Do you agree with him?”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “Yes, I believe this is a battle for the Islamic nation, not the Arab nation.”

Interviewer: “Shimon Peres said this was a matter of life and death for Israel.”

Ali Abdallah Saleh: “That’s his opinion. Shimon Peres is a senile old man. All he cares about is being in power. He makes coalitions with whoever reaches power. He is a power seeker.”

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