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
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
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
Ali Abdallah Saleh: "Why shouldn't we
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 - keep them, but let the people, the masses, act. Let the people
donate money, equipment, weapons, and young men who will join the
Interviewer: "Do you think that
Ali Abdallah Saleh: "Wait just a
minute... Just as we helped Afghanistan to fight the Communist
occupation back then - 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 - 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
Interviewer: "The secretary-general of
Hizbullah said that this is a battle of the nation. Do you agree with
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