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Yemen's President Blames U.S.; Radical Cleric Wants Islamic Rule

Staff Reporters |
March 1, 2011 | 8:40 p.m. PST

President Saleh, right
President Saleh, right
Yemen's president on Tuesday accused the U.S., his closest ally, of sparking the mounting protests against him, the AP reports.

In a speech at Sanaa University, President Ali Abdullah Saleh accused the United States and Israel of orchestrating the unrest sweeping through the region, the Washington Post reports:

"There is an operation room in Tel Aviv with the aim of destabilizing the Arab world," the longtime ruler said. "It is all run by the White House."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney rebuked Saleh for desperately attempting to find a scapegoat, the LA Times reports.

"We don't think scapegoating will be the kind of response that the people of Yemen or the people in other countries will find adequate," Carney said.

Meanwhile, a prominent radical cleric and former Osama bin Laden mentor, Abdul Majid al-Zindani, called for the creation of an Islamic state. From the NYT:

"Mr. Zindani spoke on an open-air stage before several thousand antigovernment protesters, guarded by 10 men carrying AK-47s and shielded from the scorching sun by two umbrellas wielded by aides.

'An Islamic state is coming,' he said, drawing cries of 'God is great' from some in the crowd.

He said [Yemen's President Ali Abdullah] Saleh 'came to power by force, and stayed in power by force, and the only way to get rid of him is through the force of the people.'"

Tens of thousands of protestors flooded the Arab nation's streets Tuesday in a "Day of Rage," a term that has been used in several of the other Middle East demonstrations. Protestors called for the ouster of President Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

"On Monday Saleh offered to form a unity government but the opposition rejected it. On Tuesday, he replaced the governors of five mostly southern provinces at the centre of the protests," the Star wire service reports.

The New York Times says the ruler's chances of continuing to cling to power are not great:

"Thomas C. Krajeski, the American ambassador to Yemen from 2004 to 2007, who just returned from a visit there, said he would put Mr. Saleh’s chances of staying in power at no better than 50-50, despite the Yemeni president’s long history as a wily survivor and tribal deal-maker during three decades in power."



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