Transcript of Lizzie Phelan's comments:
The major problem Yemenis are faced with is the US interference, an analyst tells Press TV, referring to the US claim that the election in Yemen was a display of democracy.
The US and Saudi Arabia have hailed the one-candidate election of Yemen, in which the long time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh was replaced with his deputy, the UK-trained army Field Marshal Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Yemenis have vowed to continue their widespread protests against the US-Saudi meddling in their country’s affairs until their revolution meets its goals.
Press TV has conducted an interview with freelance journalist Lizzie Phelan from London to further discuss the issue.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: The US and Saudi Arabia, they have hailed the one-candidate election as a victory for Yemen. Critics are saying the vote hardly represents a step forward, because it fails to reflect the Yemeni’s demands and aspirations.
Does the Saudi-US backed deal support genuine democracy and accountability for the regime’s deadly crackdown on protesters? Or do you think it was a whitewash to keep the regime in power in the absence of Saleh?
Phelan: Well, absolutely. I mean the West claims to support the people of the Middle East and the wider region and to support democracy in the so-called Arab Spring.
The hypocrisy of those claims is really highlighted in countries like Yemen Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where of course there have been popular protests there, against US-backed regimes and this claim by the United States that the election was a representation of democracy is really, you know, quite hypocritical.
At the same time when we saw in Syria popular referendum, where the majority of the country participated in that referendum, despite the fact that US-backed insurgents on the ground tried to prevent with arms, vast proportions of the population from participating.
So, on the one hand we had the US clearly being an obstacle to democracy in Syria and then on the other hand we have them claiming that in Yemen a sham election is an example of democracy.
So, their intentions are really highlighted in places like Yemen. So, I think what is happening is that clearly the US is desperate to have a kind of Egypt-style situation in Yemen whereby they have got rid of Saleh in order to try to save face.
But essentially the political structures of that country remain in place and this is of course because Yemen is a very important country for the United States and its closest ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is very much dependent on the regime of Saleh and that is obviously for a number of reasons.
Of course the United States has used, let’s not forget their intervention in Yemen, it did not begin with the so-called Arab Spring.
The United States and the Western intervention in that area, the history of it actually goes back to the history of Western intervention in the region which began with the British support for Wahabis in Saudi Arabia, when the Ottoman Empire was overthrown.
But fast forward a little bit, in this generation their intervention began with the so-called war on terror when the United States for many years now has been attacking the people of Yemen with drones up until this day under the so-called, you know, mask of fighting al-Qaeda.
There is no need to mention that on the one hand, it is fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen but then on the other hand it is supporting al-Qaeda linked groups in places like Syria and Libya.
But of course this al-Qaeda kind of red flag or whatever is actually just a mask and the nature of the opposition to Saleh is much more complicated than that.
Of course the biggest problem for the United States and Saudi Arabia is the majority Shia north and of course a large proportion of the population in Yemen, at least 42 percent is Shia and they are linked to the Shias in Saudi Arabia.
If Saleh falls, it is very likely that they become a very important force in the future of Yemen and Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, himself said that if Saudi Arabia falls and the Shia get more power in Yemen, it will eventually lead to potentially the breakup of the Saudi Arabia because we are very much seeing now Saudi Arabia overstretched, they have involved, they have got their forces on the ground in Bahrain, they are supporting the insurgencies in Libya and the rebels in Libya and in Syria.
So, there is really very much at stake if Saleh falls for the United States and its greatest ally, Saudi Arabia and of course they are very concerned because of the large Shia population, that if the Shia strengthens in Saudi Arabia by the fall of Saleh, then of course the end game is always war with Iran, which is of course an important strategic ally of Russia and China.
Press TV: I like to make some comparisons. You talked about Syria; we can also talk about Bahrain and of course in terms of Yemen, the interests of Yemenis seem sacrificed since if they had succeeded in putting an independent government in place that would be a threat to the Saudi regime. I think you indicated that too.
And of course Bahrain kind of the same that this could spread, this idea of democracy, across the border into their country and other Arab regimes and that is not something, Saudi Arabia and the US want. Is it?
Phelan: Not at all. I think it is important to highlight the role of the Western and (P)GCC [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] media is again really highlighted in countries like Yemen.
I mean if there was such a process like the election that took place, where the vice president that took office in Yemen, if there was the same process that took place in Libya or Syria or Iran or in another country that the West does not see as a friend, the Western media and Western politicians would be having a field day accusing these countries of abuses against democracy and being oppressing their people.
But when it happens in a country that is an ally of the (P)GCC, of course the elections was orchestrated under (P)GCC plan, then the Western media, as I said they would have been having a field day.
But here, their hypocrisy is highlighted. So, I think that it is also important to mention that the actions today of the protesters highlighting that the main problem is Western intervention in their country, is the US intervention in their country and across the Arab spring, the so called countries that have been involved in the Arab spring this has been the main problem.
And the Yemeni people, I am sure know very well from Bahrain history that US intervention, Western intervention in their affairs will never bring them close to democracy and progress and freedom. It never has, throughout history and never will.