Yemeni Nobel Laureate Demands Saleh Be Prosecuted for War Crimes

The UN Security Council is considering a resolution to support the Gulf States' plan for Saleh to step down with immunity

by John Glaser, October 18, 2011

Yemeni Nobel peace laureate Tawakul Karman publicly pleaded with the United Nations on Tuesday to reject a Gulf Arab plan that would grant immunity President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom she called a “war criminal.”

The United States, Britain, and France introduced a resolution to the Security Council last weekthat voices support for the Gulf states’ plan for Saleh to step down from power after forming an opposition cabinet and handing power to his Vice President Abduraboo Mansur Hadi ahead of early elections

“The youth’s peaceful revolution is against the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) initiative, especially because it gives immunity to Saleh and his family,” Karman told reporters at a demonstration in New York near the United Nations, where she was greeted by a cheering crowd of supporters.

The letter of the resolution is actually ambiguous, urging implementation of the GCC plan, but stressing that ” all those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable.”

“We came here to tell them that Ali Saleh and (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad are both criminals and they have to be held accountable and prosecuted,” Karman said. “I feel shame that I will be sleeping tonight in a hotel and my people will be sleeping in the streets,” she said. “(But) I will stay in New York until the crimes of Ali Saleh are transferred to the International Criminal Court and until they freeze all his assets.”

The US drone attack that assassinated US citizen Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen seems to have renewed US relations with Saleh, as he hoped to parlay the killing to his favor as an example of what a cooperative client state he can run on behalf of US foreign policy in the region. Obama administration officials immediately tempered earlier criticisms and heaped praise of the Saleh regime for this deadly “success.”

The Obama administration has given near constant US support for the Saleh regime throughout the brutal security crackdown on massive popular protests, which Karman is now describing as war crimes. A resolution for the arrest of Saleh is likely to be vetoed by the US, given their support for and complicity in his crimes.

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