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However, on Tuesday, Saleh seemed to be turning on Washington. In a speech to about 500 students and lecturers at Sanaa University, he claimed the U.S., along with Israel, is behind the protest movement.
"I am going to reveal a secret," he said. "There is an operations room in Tel Aviv with the aim of destabilizing the Arab world. The operations room is in Tel Aviv and run by the White House."
Saleh is a Zaydi Shia Muslim, which is commonly referred to as the "Fiver" school of Shia Islam. Saleh's Zaydi "identity is one of culture and tradition rather than political allegiance," as he is a "non-Hashimi" Zaydi, or not a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, and Saleh would not have been eligible to rule under the Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen that ruled the country until 1962.. Saleh's Shia heritage enables him to retain ties with Iran as demonstrated by Khatami's official state visit to Yemen in 2003 and Ahmedinejad's meeting with him in December 2010.
A long-time ally of Saddam Hussein, in 1990 Ali Abdullah Saleh supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. After Iraq lost the Gulf War, Yemenis were deported en masse from Kuwait by the restored government. After the reunification of Yemen on 22 May 1990, the north and the South agreed to divide the Ministries in half, to have a multiple parties system and to hold a parliamentary election in three years. The election in 1993 resulted in the win of the GPC with the majority followed by an Islamic party (al-Islah), leaving the Socialist party with a communist orientation in the third place.The Socialist Party did not like this result and this caused the war in 1994.
Ties with Iran
In April 2000 Saleh visited Tehran to cement Iran-Yemeni military relations and to express his support for Iran over its dispute with the UAE over three Gulf islands. Saleh, a Shia, prayed at the mausoleum of late Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
The US-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein, Saleh's long-time ally, and created concern in the region that other dictators may be next; as a result on May 15, 2003 Iranian leader Khatami visited Iran's two regional allies, Syria and Shia-ruled Yemen, to strengthen Iran's regional security links.
Iran has continued to garner support from Yemen well into December 2010 with Ahmedinejad's meeting with Saleh on Iran-Yemen cooperation, where Saleh confirmed his support for Iran's nuclear energy program. 
As the Sunni southern secessionist movement accelerated from 2007 onward, emboldened by Southern Sudan's secession in February 2011, Saleh increasingly turns to Iran for support. Iranian officials see Saleh as critical to preserving Shia rule over formerly independent Sunni South Yemen, which encompasses the strategic port of Aden, and have expressed their support for his crackdown on Sunni southern separatists "in order to preserve territorial integrity".