This is what hundreds of millions of dollars a year buys us.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s embattled U.S.-backed president accused Washington on Tuesday of instigating protests against his regime, as hundreds of thousands marched in cities across Yemen in the largest rallies yet seeking the longtime ruler’s ouster.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s allegations, unprecedented in their harshness, signaled a growing rift with the United States that could hurt a joint campaign against the al-Qaida terror network in Yemen.

Saleh’s comments Tuesday, including charges that the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Sanaa is giving instructions to the protesters, appeared to be part of an attempt to silence the calls for his resignation. Saleh has come under mounting pressure to step down since anti-government protests erupted a month ago.

In Sanaa, tens of thousands rallied near the university, chanting “the people want the downfall of the regime.”

Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, considered by the U.S. be linked to the al-Qaida terror network, led noon prayers and warned the government not to use force against demonstrators. “We hail the peaceful revolution of the youths and their legitimate demands and rights,” he said. . . .

However, in a speech to about 500 students and academics at Sanaa University, Saleh appeared to be turning on his ally, claiming 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,” he said.