Yemen has agreed to press the Arab League to support the
U.S. military presence in Iraq. The stand, which has received has been well-received by U.S. and EU officials, would represent a reversal of the nation's previous policy.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has proposed a plan
that calls for an indefinite U.S. military stay in Iraq. Yemeni officials
said Saleh would submit his proposal to the Arab League summit,
scheduled to be held in Tunis on Monday, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the Saleh plan envisions a long-term U.S. military
presence in an effort to stabilize Iraq. They said Saleh seeks to establish
a panel that would include representatives from the interim Iraqi Governing
Council, the Arab League, the United Nations, United States and its allies
to draft a program for the restoration of stability and sovereignty to Iraq.
Eventually, an international force would be deployed in Iraq, according
to the Yemeni plan. At the same time, U.S. forces would be deployed outside
of major Iraqi cities.
"They would draft a roadmap for Iraq that guarantees the territorial
unity of Iraq, confronting any separatist disputes, the withdrawal of all
foreign troops from Iraq and ending the occupation," the Yemeni Defense
Ministry weekly, "September 26," said.
Yemen was said to have special expertise on Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis
fled their country for Yemen during the Saddam Hussein regime. Many of them
were now considering returning to Iraq in wake of Saddam's capture.
The Yemeni proposal also calls for the international panel to oversee
the establishment of an Iraqi military within two years. The United States
has pledged to complete a 40,000-member Iraqi military by October 2004.
Yemen discussed the Saleh plan with the United States, the European
Union and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, officials said.
They said the plan has received a warm reception.
The Yemeni plan was seen as a reversal in Sanaa's position regarding
Sanaa had been an opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq and its subsequent
The Saleh plan also included a roadmap for the revival of diplomatic
means to end the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as democratic reform in the