x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Yemeni politics in tumult over WikiLeak

Yemeni politics are in tumult after WikiLeaks said the government lied about who carried out air strikes that killed civilians.

SANA'A// Dozens of Yemeni legislators yesterday summoned a senior defence official to testify about allegations, contained in a secret US cable disclosed by WikiLeaks, that he lied to parliament about air strikes last year that reportedly killed dozens of civilians.

In a January meeting with Gen David Petraeus, then commander of US forces in the Middle East, the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh purportedly admitted lying to his own people by pretending that US military strikes against al Qa'eda the previous month were carried out by Yemen's military.

"We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," said Mr Saleh, according to a cable signed by the US ambassador to Sana'a, Stephen Seche.

That prompted Rashad al Alimi, the deputy prime minister for security and defence affairs who was at the meeting, to "joke" that he had just "lied" to parliament about the air strikes, saying the bombs were US-made but the attacks were carried out by government forces.

A statement signed by 50 members of parliament yesterday demanded that Mr Alimi come before the legislature and explain the comments quoted in the cable, which the government has called "incorrect".

In signing the petition, one legislator, the opposition MP Mansur al Zindani, said Mr Alimi had dealt "a strong blow to parliament and the public by lying".

By late yesterday, neither Mr Alimi nor his office had replied to the' request.