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Socialist Party foreign relations head to the Yemen Times: "Any efforts based on force and violence... will end in failure and will not be ac.

Following the Houthis' Feb. 6 announcement of a 551 member transitional council and a five member presidential council, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) released a statement the next day calling the move a "risk as it could lead to the violation of national sovereignty."

"It undermines the current political process which is based on the GCC Initiative. It is also considered to be a coup against the legitimacy of the national conformity based on the NDC outcomes and the Peace and Partnership Agreement," the statement read.

The party called on the Houthis to release Cabinet ministers and the president from house arrest, stop violent crackdowns on media employees and release those currently detained, remove their militants from public institutions, and to return to negotiations under the patronage of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar.

The Yemen Times spoke to Mohammad Ghalib Ahmed, the head of foreign relations for the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), shortly before the Houthis' announcement. He placed emphasis on the party's peaceful nature, saying "The Socialist Party, during the crises Yemen has passed through since the unification between the north and the south in 1990, has not used force or bribery but instead offered its detailed and justified visions based on peaceful dialogues as the only way to solve all crises."

"The Socialist Party depends on national reconciliations encouraged by gulf-brokered initiative, the NDC outcomes and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement," he said. "Therefore if the majority of the political parties opted for the parliament as a constitutional institution to solve the deadlock of the president's resignation, the Socialist Party would not object."

Ahmed was born on Oct. 14, 1949 in Al-Shuaib district of Al-Dhale governorate. He holds a high secondary school and diploma from Moscow. In 1965 Ahmed joined the national front, participating in the resistance against the British occupation of the south. He has a lengthy history as a politician, serving in embassies in Britain and Saudi Arabia and in many deputy ministerial positions in the former South Yemen. Following unification in 1990 he became a member of parliament and in 1994 he became a member of the YSP. In 2005 he was elected head of the party's foreign relations.

The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), which include the Socialist Party, have been complaining about the stubbornness of the Houthis and described their presence in Sana'a and other governorates as illegal. So why do you negotiate with them whenever they want?

Dialogue is an ideal and civilized way of breaking deadlock--better, less harmful than the use of force. We all know that fruitful outcomes are reached only through dialogue. The martyr Jar Allah Omar [former secretary general of the YSP and founder of the JMP) was assassinated in December 2002 while he was calling for dialogue. Yasin Saeed Noman, the ex-secretary general of the party, also survived an assassination attempt in front of his house in December 2013. Nevertheless, he was not frightened and didn't remain indoors, instead going to the NDC (National Dialogue Conference). Dialogue is an everlasting socialist approach and through difficult times [the party] has called for dialogue, such as in September 1994 when the civil war was at its peak.

The Houthis have their eyes on Marib and are vowing to advance on to defeat Al-Qaeda. Do you think Marib will witness violent clashes?

I am a member of the Socialist Party, not [the Houthis], and I am unaware of their intentions. They have dozens of spokespersons and nobody is able to distinguish between those that are honest or not. Furthermore, their power is not unilateral but multilateral, which has enabled them to reach where they are now.

In the meantime, while Yemen passes through this political vacuum a US drone strike in Shabwa governorate on Jan. 31 claimed three lives. Do you think the US will continue fighting it's "war on terror" within the current situation?

What the US cares about most are the interests it has in Yemen and other countries. A historical chance loomed on the horizon in 2011 when all countries, including Yemen, shared mutual interests. But it seems that there is someone who wants to miss this chance [referring to the current situation], so no blame on foreign countries for being interested in their interests.

The Yemeni youth have taken to the streets to ignite a revolution against the Houthis, as they did in 2011 against the former regime. Does the Socialist Party side with this approach, and does the JMP support the youth as it did in 2011?

The Socialist Party believes in peaceful struggle and dialogue. We definitely side with the youth and other social factions as long as they organize peaceful demonstrations. The party opposes any kind of crackdown against such peaceful events--the same stance adopted by the party since the peaceful Southern Movement started in 2007, during the revolution of 2011, and for recent crackdowns against youth and journalists today.

In the event that the former regime is re-instated by the Houthis by forming a presidential council to represent them, as analysts predict could happen, what will the stance of the party be?

There is no point in saying because the former regime still exists until today and the transfer of power has yet to be completed. The so-called former regime is still grabbing public institutions, the army, security, and economy, and even the currency exchange market.

How does the Socialist Party describe what happened on Sept. 21, 2014 and Jan. 19, 2015? Was it a coup or a revolution?

In the second sentence of the vision offered by the party [given Jan. 28, 2015, to the committee tasked with the implementation of the Peace and National Partnership Agreement], it reads, "A political action took place on Sept. 21, 2014." As for the explanation of what has been done by the Houthis since then--by using force against the government--it's mentioned in the vision, which reads, "Houthis are achieving power by making strong decisions via revolutionary committees within public institutions based on what they called revolutionary legitimacy, which has caused more problems to exist in addition to what already existed. It then led to the use of violence which caused the president and the government to resign, as thus Yemen has plunged into a political and constitutional vacuum."

Since the president and the government resigned, the Southern Movement has been working on establishing a preparation council for secession. Do you think the south is really preparing for secession and the establishment of an independent state?

Secession was announced by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from Sabaeen Square in Sana'a on April 27, 1994, and the decision regarding civil war on July 7, 1994, came from Sana'a. Today, secession is being announced and practiced from Sana'a itself. Nothing came from Aden and the entire south except for the dream of unification between north and south, which was one of the most prominent aims since 1967 until unification took place in May 1990. From Aden unification was announced and the preparation agreement for it on Nov. 30, 1989.

How does the Socialist Party see the southern issue with regards to federalism, and the six provinces which were opposed by the Houthis. Do you agree that federalism can solve the southern issue or do you believe it will divide Yemen into small, weak counties?

The answer to this question is in the party's vision [given Jan. 28, 2015]. It reads: "The formation of the Regions Committee was in conflict with the NDC outcomes as it imposes the division of the country into six regions and it moved towards imposing it on the ground away from the national reconciliation and agreements regarding the issue, the last of which was the Peace and Partnership Agreement signed on Sept. 21, 2014."

For the record, the Socialist Party had legally appealed against this decision, which was in conflict with the bylaw of the NDC and the agreements reached by the participating factions. It released its press release on Jan. 12, 2014, and another release after the republican decree of the Regions Committee and also a third one after issuing the release of the Regions Committee.

How do you find the performance of the newly elected leadership of the Socialist Party? And what is the political role played by former Secretary General Yasin Noman after leaving his position?

The performance of the party and its new leadership are assessed by the party's bodies, especially the Central Committee as the highest ranking body. The party performance is not assessed by ordinary members, even in the political office or secretariat or even the secretary general himself. As for Noman, he is still a political and socialist leader. He is admired and respected by all the party's members and other parties. He is still a member of the political office of the party, performing his duties perfectly.

Who would you thank and who would you blame?

I would thank the Yemeni people for their patience and I would thank our beloved youth, the future builders who have bravely resisted crackdowns and oppression. I would thank the peaceful Southern Movement revolutionaries who have been clinging to the peaceful principles of their struggle since 2007 despite the violent crackdowns they faced.

But I blame those who have been accusing us of heresy, who killed us in the name of God and in the name of unification from 1990 up until now, who legitimatized violence and devastated the state, which is essentially owned by the Yemeni people.

Any efforts based on force and violence and are in conflict with the NDC outcomes and the Peace and Partnership Agreement and will end in failure and will not be accepted by the Yemeni people.

It's important here to mention what the party repeatedly warned about through statements released between August and September 2014. We warned political factions about the possibility of the state collapsing. And its force would not impact only Sana'a and northern governorates but also the south, which would witness divisions, especially amongst politicians in the south who have their own personal agendas.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Feb 9, 2015
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