Tariq al-Fadhli Speaks on the Yemeni Protest Movement
by Shukri Hussein
- For many reasons, I burned the American flag and disowned Hirak leaders.
- The Friday “day of rage” will continue to become Friday of Liberation
- Ali Abdullah Saleh will fall, as Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali fell
- I sacrificed all the privileges I had before and have chosen to be a citizen in the public sphere
Two years passed since your joining of the Southern movement, or “Hirak.” How do you see its progress today?
It is great and goes ahead. This happened with thanks to God first and then the free Southern people who reject injustice, and they are certainly more optimistic than before. The Egyptian revolution and before it the Tunisian inspires us to victory and liberation from occupation forces’ control of the South today.
This means that the Hirak is at the stage that you wish?
Of course! We feel close to achieving all the hopes of the people in terms of liberation of the South’s land and building a modern state.
We will continue, taking our strength and resolve from the will of our people despite the intimidations and plots planned by the occupation authorities.
This only strengthens the determination of the South’s people in order to achieve victory.
I see you speak self-confidently despite the rift between you and the South’s people?
Yes, even if our confidence has been shaken in ourselves, still our hearts beat with love for the South.
Do you feel that you are still part of the movement?
The truth is that no one can stop me, as I am part of the people of the South which is heavy with wounds and pain.
The Hirak movement is a popular movement of all people and not limited at all to personalities.
Therefore nobody can do the role of the other, despite the desperate, sick attempts to bring the movement closer to the joint meeting parties, but they have been revealed and their attempts failed.
Whose attempts? Could you please make this clear?
The coming days will expose their bad aims and the movement will continue despite the conspiracy.
I repeat we depend on youth to achieve victory. We have recently taken part in a “Friday of Anger” and will be followed by “Friday of Endurance” and then there will be “Friday of Liberty.”
For your information, I wish that security forces came out to the streets of Zinjibar so we could humble them as they humbled our people, but they avoided contact with us every time.
I understand from your words that you are ready for armed confrontation?
No, I do not mean this, but just as the Egyptian and Tunisian peoples with peaceful confrontation, we will be like them and we will use all the available tools.
The security forces are weak and there is no need to face them with weapons because they are misled and work for Ali Abdullah Saleh.
As the Tunisian people dislocated Ben Ali and the Egyptian people removed Hosni Mubarak, God willing, our people will be able to bring down the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been holding down two peoples and two states, North and South for more than 33 years.
Back to my question: Do you still see yourself as part of the movement?
Yes I am part of the popular movement which is far from the bodies, organizations, and parties.
But many people believe that Sheikh Tariq has charted by himself an approach which differs from the Hirak movement’s approach, especially after the signature of the truce with the Authority in February last year?
No, This statement is not true. The Hirak movement is acting peacefully since its first appearance, and as long as the Hirak has been operating, it has renounced violence and fighting.
I am pleased with the truce in order to preserve the spirit of movement and in order to avoid armed confrontation.
You and others can see clearly the occupation that is occurring here, based on seeing the army and the police which are surrounding the city from all directions and surrounding my house too.
Unless we sought a logical and reasonable path at that time, a big disaster would have happened and turned the city into a bloodbath, and in that day the martyr Ali Saleh Al-Haddi was killed when troops attacked his home brutally – then we chose to maintain a peaceful movement.
In your last statement, you charge leading figures of the movement with various excesses and wrongdoing – What are the reasons for that?
They aren’t offences, but it is the mentality and spirit that doesn’t serve the young people eager for their future, who are making sacrifices after the sacrifices.
It is necessary to change the past habits. People today dismiss those people in power who have money, and we are unfortunately required to submit to old dinosaurs who have humbled our people in the South and they raise slogans for a day of “reconciliation and tolerance” which does not reflect our situation.
The principles of reconciliation and tolerance has been received by the community as a good idea. Why are you against it now?
It isn’t reconciliation and tolerance when everybody stalking one another. Do not be surprised I tell you now that when I call somebody, they say, “I am the President of the Republic” and Ali Nasser also says, “I am the President of the Republic, Haidar Al-Attas says, “I am the Prime Minister and so on.”
They are not able to waive around their illustrious status and mingle with the people and mingle with them at the same time.
Personally, I gave up all privileges and titles and I accepted to be a citizen with the people of the South in the field.
So, I say no to leaders after today, because it has brought us into confusion and splits. If you look at their meetings you will find they didn’t depart from narrow loyalties and therefore the South is over Tareq al-Fadhli and above all leaderships and all personalities.
In Egypt, the July Revolution fell down and became a revolution of January 25 as a new revolution with new life.
But [our leaders] are still as they were, living in illusions of the past and so I got very angry because they have wasted our country, our youth, our identity, our religion and Arabism. The issue of the South will remain and those people will disappear.
Does the fragmentation of the Hirak benefit the movement?
No, we must be inspired by the lesson of Egypt’s Revolution where in Tahrir Square, where people of all sects met and threw off all the dinosaurs and the idols.
Egypt’s youth is looking forward to the future of the homeland and this is what we have in the coming days because we’re betting on young people and their aspirations and we have recently undertaken another step in the way of peaceful struggle through “Facebook,” and it has received a great following from all the provinces and other steps are yet to come.
I feel optimistic that it is close to the end, but at the same time I feel deeply hopeless towards those who call themselves leaders.
We didn’t hear from you in the last meetings of the Hirak leaders. Were you invited?
Yes. I was invited by Mr. Hassan Ba’oum, and he told me: “You are still the Vice-Chairman of Hirak Board,” but I apologized and told him to take the side of the young people only, and not allow the parties to take him.
I found him to be understanding and he replied, “certainly we are with the revolution of the youth, and praise your steps in this direction.”
Do not you see that Hirak more dissent and disunity?
No. The Youth Revolution is uniform and splits hold only at the level of parties organizations and leaders, and indeed such things happen.
But what we can do as long as they receive checks and money orders, and raise pictures of dinosaurs. They certainly do not represent the pulse of the street.
This means that there exist among the Hirak ranks those who have their own agendas?
Yes. It is clear and obvious and the Southern street speaks for itself while these leaders speak for themselves, and I do not want to give names now, but time will expose them.
Please no need waste interview time in such things because I had previously announced my position and disavowed them and I joined the youth sector and the street.
We raised the motto of ” Southern man! Have no leaders today!” We have only the South. It is our commander.
Let us get back point if you please, O Sheikh. You attacked the socialists and burned the Southern flag. Do you not see that they are angry with you?
We often tried to convince them that the South is the basis of every discussion, but they refused only to endorse Hirak in favor of political parties and Joint Meetings, in the their desire for unity and claimed that they are trustees on the South.
I undertook a campaign to expose them. I want to clarify another question. I have not burned the Southern flag and had already made that clear more than once, and these socialist people who are disgruntled today with Tariq Al-fadhli have burned the south and its hopes.
Today, you can see how the castles of the National Party in Egypt, the Tunisian Ruling Party, and the Baath Party in Iraq crumbled, as the socialist party destroyed the country and people.
It is true that I burned the Red Star, the symbol of the Socialists – we won’t accept custody of the land of the South.
I will be resistant to the occupation and against anyone who wants to impose a trusteeship on the South and its people. The JMP and before it the Congress Party can go to hell.
This means that you reject the party in all its forms?
Yes, all parties without exception can go to hell.
But with your way, you spark the flame of controversy and fuel the fires of conflict in order to implement your own agenda, do you not?
And what’s my agenda?
They described you as “a fork which the State wants to be embedded in the throat of the Hirak?
It isn’t true because I am the one who united the Hirak movement and I did so proudly.
They worked to divide the Hirak and we were patient with their offences and conspiracies in order to maintain the unity of the movement.
I announce the challenge again and ask them to respond to my words if they have something to say.
From your point of view, What are the steps to make the Hirak recover?
To go down to the street and socialize with people and to raise the slogan of “the people want to overthrow the regime.”
Is it fair to say that you cannot live a silently, away from the limelight?
These are among the fabrications which sick people have said. I have never called a journalist, local or abroad, to make an interview with me.
I am not looking for leadership. I’ll tell you a secret: I didn’t tell anyone before that I called the brothers in the Hirak leadership to sign an honor Charter calling not to nominate or pay any person for any government position after the liberation of the South.
But they opposed the idea because they are looking for titles and positions. I don’t want anything.
You raised the American flag a little while ago, then later burned it. Is this a contradiction?
This point I spoke more than once and the conclusion is that Ali Abdullah Saleh accused me publicly in an interview with MBC that I am from al-Qaeda and his newspapers used to say al-Qaeda equals the Hirak.
Many journalists from Yemen and outside came to me and all of them got the message. Is it possible that Tariq al-Fadhli could not be a terrorist after all?
When I raised the American flag, it was only to clarify that we need democracy and freedom and to prove to the world that we are the opposite of what is echoed by the Sana’a regime. Some American journalists gave their flag as a present, and I raised it.
But you then burned it?
Yes. First, specifically after the website Wikileaks revealed that the Americans are the ones who hit the al-Majala’a area after it was reported first that Yemeni aircraft were responsible.
Secondly, U.S. support for the system of Ali Abdullah Saleh after a visit by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Sana’a, who confirmed her support for the President and the Unity.
She forgot the pains of the Southern people, although more interests of America and the world may be in the South than in the North, and this position certainly angered me, so I burned the flag.
But some interpreted it as a kind of courtship with former friends.
Who are my former friends? I have many friends.
I mean Osama bin Laden.
Osama is my friend, and I will declare that I love him everywhere.
Are you still in touch with him?
Oh, God, I hope to achieve this access. “Hey America, can you provide me a line or a code to communicate with my friend Osama?”
You described the President as a “dictator and tyrant,” but didn’t you have his support at one point?
Never! I didn’t have his support before or now.
But it’s been hinted that you are now linked to the president and the leaders of the state and continue to receive their support?
Where is the support that you talking about? If you mean my salary, I am, like any person, getting a salary, and all of them in the movement today receive their salaries from the state.
My relationships with the authority to which you are referring is to Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.
He is my relative, as I have relatives in Oman, Saudi, Egyptian, and even Russia. Is it forbidden to communicate with my relatives?
Do you have a relationship with Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi?
No. I agree to create a relationship with him if he will support us to overthrow the regime in the South. [laughter] Al-Houthi is the one authorized to overthrow the regime in the North.
If your newspaper can reach him, we will tell him to support us, and we will support him.
Recently, you have convened a meeting in Zinjibar meeting and made recommendations. Who has the right to deliver this speech?
It is me in my capacity as the sponsor of this agreement. This meeting was held with one group (“Najah”) and The National Councils groups and others, but they have later worked after forming their leaders in some provinces for the benefit of the Yemeni Socialist Party.
They refused my idea to widen the council and involve many sectors of people. They also excluded all the other sectors of people and acted as the Power. So I took the initiative.
After all of the above, Do you regret joining the Hirak movement?
No, I do not regret it at all, but I feel really regretful because of the actions of some hesitating people, and they have found, unfortunately, rather unaware followers.
I feel proud that I joined the Hirak. I am also ready to sacrifice myself and my children for the South and its dignity.
I do not regret in all what I have said and worked for and I will continue strongly until the last day of my life.
Finally, away from the sphere of politics and the Hirak. How do you spend your day, especially when you are in your home in a state of house arrest?
I am satisfied here! You know why? Because I feel that I am like a thorn in the eye of the enemy, as the authority, the occupation forces and all the parties wish that I would go away, but I will keep up resistance until we achieve victory in the South.
By the way, I go out to the street and meet a lot of people and work to solve a lot of tribal problems.
Sorry, I mean how do you spend your time in the house?
Of course in reading newspapers and sitting with family and receiving many visitors and logged onto the internet.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you and your readers.