Mohamed Abu Lahoum expressed his concerns on the conditions of Yemen today, stressing that the country needs to speed up the process of solving the current crises such as Sa’ada war, the situation in the south, in addition to the war against Al-Qaeda and the difficult economic situation.
Abu Lahoum, who was the head of the Republican Party before it merged with the General People’s Congress (GPC) Party, stated that the parties of the conflict in the country ‘’the ruling party and the opposition’’ must offer concessions to each other in order to surpass the country’s political tension, which the state experiences due to halt in dialogue. He expressed that the authority should sit down with all political parties.
Below is the interview:
How do you describe the scene Yemen is living today?
I do not want to say that it is a complex situation, regardless on the negative situation we see today. There are significant challenges we must face and take practical steps to address them for the interest of the country. Whether in Sa’ada or in the southern governorates, dialogue must take place between the various political forces.
There is a clear political congestion in the country between the opposition and ruling party; is it possible to reach a point of agreement to contain what is going on between the sides today?
Many of the crises occurring now have exceeded the Yemeni opposition and the GPC. Unfortunately, we are taking steps backwards. We have been for more than four years discussing the issue of dialogue.
The problem is that each party wants to blame the other side; in fact, there is no clear and common vision between the parties. Meanwhile, dialogue is in the interest of everyone.
There is considerable disagreement in the concept of dialogue. The opposition JMP has a special committee and the GPC has its own committee as if each party wants to prove that the other party is wrong.
To address this problem I wish that a small committee be formed that consists of fifteen members of the GPC and its allies, and the same number for the JMP and its allies, to set the framework of dialogue. Without this proposal, it would be like planting more problems within the Yemeni arena.
Is it possible for the ruling party to step down on some of its demands from the opposition in order for dialogue to start again?
I hope that the GPC and the JMP make some concessions, because the party that gives concessions is always strong. As past experiences have shown, no party in the Yemeni arena is able to advance without the other party.
Dialogue should not be confined between the GPC and the JMP, it must include the brothers in Sa’ada, the Southern Mobility, including the southern brothers abroad, we must not exclude anyone.
But there are differences in visions between the ruling party and the opposition in the issue of engaging Houthis and the Southern Mobility in the dialogue, how can that be solved?
Two or three months ago, there was a view which says joining Houthis in dialogue is impossible, but today things have changed, dialogue became possible. The current cease-fire between both parties is based through dialogue. So, that will successfully work with the Southern Mobility or those abroad. We must not exclude them and we should open doors with them. But if we continue in the militancy of some of the views promoted by some Muslim Brotherhood militants here or there, we will remain in this tunnel, which is not beneficial for the country.
Is it possible that the ruling party sits with the pro-secessionists?
Through my knowledge of many brothers abroad, separation is not an option but it is a kind of escalation of political discourse. In reality, Yemenis are keen on unity, particularly in the southern provinces. The general public in the southern provinces suffer from real crises and we have to look at these issues.
Unfortunately, the brothers in these provinces have only been hearing promises from us over the past fifteen years, just promises. Nothing has been implemented on the ground.
Do you fear that the situation in the south might turn worser than what it is today?
What we see day after day indicates that there are slides for the worse, and I do not want to say that there is indifference.
I believe that using righteous men of both parties is the proper approach to address the issues, so there must be honest dialogue with our brothers in the Mobility and our brothers abroad to know what are the issues and concerns of everyone.
War against Houthis
Did the Sa’ada war file completely close?
I hope that this file closed; and I am convinced that stopping the war was a strong decision, and I agree with this decision. Unfortunately, some people say it is wrong to stop the war. However, the blood of Yemenis is dripping, and we do not know what the reason is? I wonder who benefits from stopping the war in Sa’ada? There is no doubt that Yemenis are the ones who benefit. Meanwhile, if there are outcomes to the file, we must all cooperate in overcoming them for the country’s interest.
Al-Beidh says that closing the file of Sa’ada war is aimed at suppressing the protests in the south… does this scenario make sense?
There are people who want to promote this argument, but I do not think that the political leadership is thinking this way. The military suppression gets us nowhere, we should learn from Sa’ada experience, which proved that the military solution was not successful.
What do you think of allegations that say that the six wars Sa’ada witnessed were for the sake of inheritance?
I wonder of such allegations, Yemeni people have sacrificed for the Republic since September 1962 revolution and the revolution of October 1963 via 1990 until today. Such allegation are a kind of exaggeration, and I’ll say, in Yemen there is no place to inheritance, or anyone who promotes for inheretance. I believe that inheritance and separation are two sides of the same coin as there is no place for them in Yemen’s future at all. Yemeni people won’t accept inheritance at all. However, through my knowledge of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, I have not heard him talking or defending inheritance nor is it in his agenda.
Sanaa has excellent relations with the West, but has a special relationship with Washington. How can we understand this relationship and under what framework?
Americans look to Yemen in a special way as a nation with a history of civilizations, and the United States can build bridges with Yemen in many issues. I believe as long as Americans have this view, and there is now a good management in Washington, we have to take advantage of this, especially that Yemen is not a hot spot such as Egypt or Syria in the sense that Yemen is not close to Israel.
I believe, that dealing with the United States in a way that doesn’t conflict with the interests of the country will help Yemen. It is in our interest to deal with the West.
How does Sana’a manage its relations with neighboring countries, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council. There is focus on the issue of Yemeni employment there besides other things?
The management of the relationship with neighboring countries is good, but there must be some sort of vision. We must not confine our relationship with the GCC in the issue of employment or when we will enter the Gulf Cooperation Council. The issue is wider than that.
We have to assure Gulf States that the prosperity of Yemeni people will reflect on them and Yemeni people will not be a burden on them, but will rather help them through the promotion of joint investments.
We need development in all areas, and this is the time to take advantage of our relationship with the U.S. and the West in general, we have to flourish the country, ‘’enough conflicts to Yemen’’.