Yemeni pres. apologizes for saying US, Israel behind unrest

Saleh conveys "regret for misunderstandings related to his public remarks"; "firmly committed to meaningful political reform."

March 3, 2011 01:28
2 minute read.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh 311 Reu. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Yemen’s president called the White House on Wednesday to apologize for accusing the US and Israel of being behind the recent popular unrest in his country, according to a statement put out by the Obama administration.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh called US Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan “to convey his regret for misunderstandings related to his public remarks that Israel and the United States have engaged in destabilizing activities in Arab countries,” the statement read.

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The release also said that the Yemeni leader said “he is firmly committed to meaningful political reform in Yemen and that he is reaching out to opposition elements in an effort to achieve reform through a democratic, inclusive and peaceful process.”

Brennan welcomed the call and termed comments assigning blame for the recent uprisings “unhelpful,” since they “ignore the legitimate aspirations of people in the Arab world.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s opposition said at least 79 people were arrested at protest rallies on Tuesday that the government denied had taken place at all.

Authorities have deployed large numbers of security personnel to prevent any repeat of the massive unrest that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 reelection, and on Wednesday state media made no mention of Tuesday’s rallies.

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Opposition websites said thousands of people demonstrated in Tehran and other cities to demand the release of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi who they believe were taken from their homes last week and jailed.

Prosecutor-General Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei denied the arrests had taken place, saying both men were still in their homes but were being prevented from communicating with the outside world.

According to opposition website Sahamnews, at least 79 people were arrested on Tuesday.

Sites said around 1,500 were arrested on February 14, during the Green Movement’s first rally in more than a year, which was called to show support for pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa.

The police said “dozens” of people were arrested on February 14, and a parliamentary committee set up to investigate the events said only small groups of trouble-makers turned up.

Talking of events on Tuesday, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told reporters: “A limited number of people, influenced by anti-revolutionary groups, were intending to do something.

“No specific incident happened on Tuesday in Tehran,” he said, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency. Dolatabadi declined to give the number of arrests.

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