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The British Ambassador to Yemen: The President is convinced by change and he must sign Gulf initiative.

Written by Fakhri Al-Arashi

British Ambassador, Jonathan Wilks to the Middle East Newspaper, “Nonetalks about eradication… killing protesters…. and that the assassination eattempt of President Saleh is a crime.

In an interview conducted by the Middle East and Translated into English by National Yemen; The British Ambassador to Yemen Mr. Jonthan Wilks in London had a lot to say regarding Yemen. His main points are summarized:

  • What is happening in Yemen is primarily an economic crisis.
  • The Arab spring diverted the events into a political crisis among political parties.
  • Change in Yemen is a must now, and the President Saleh believes in it and he must sign the gulf initiative and hand over the power peacefully.
  • As crimes are committed against protesters, the protesters should look at crime of the attempted assassination of President Saleh.
  • Yemenis have the right agree on a round table.
  • He is in contact with all parties in Yemen and the UK government does not mind if the Muslim Brotherhood leads the government or other groups. That is if they respect democracy, partnership principles and human rights.
  • The deliberation of the Security Council on Yemen will not impose sanctions on the regime or individuals for the time being.

 

Firstly, what is happening in Yemen? Is it a revolution or a political crisis?

Of course there is a very dangerous political crisis in Yemen and it has been quite noticeable for the past months. The situation in Yemen, politically, security economically as well humanitarian is continuously deteriorating. The British attitude remains in the importance of finding a quick peaceful resolution. The change in Yemen is coming without a doubt; the question here is about how the change will occur.  Will the change be peaceful or violation, quick or slow? Of course the British government prefers the quick peaceful solution. There were a good and successful efforts made by UK and its Arab, European and American allies such as the reasonable draft under what is called Gulf Initiative, and this remains the only draft for all parties. There was a dialogue over the past months about the current problems in the country to agree on the technical details of the gulf initiative. Accordingly, the peaceful resolution is there and must be approved by all pro and anti-parties, and the president and needs the opposition to sit together and sign the initiative to start transition period. This is highly required by the British government and it will continue its efforts to convince both parties to achieve this process.

This is very good introduction about the initiative, but you did not answer if what is happening in Yemen a political crises or public revolution from your point of view?

As I told you, what is happening in Yemen is a political crisis, but this crisis has been in Yemen for many years as it is an economic crisis. There is not enough economic resources in Yemen so the crisis began as an economic issue and simple evolved into the Arab Spring and youth protests. This shift is where the crisis switched from an economic one to a political one.  In other word this is a new element to the crisis. The British government respects the protestors demand for reform and change, but we have to understand that it is primarily an economic crisis. The problem now is on the deterioration of the social living for the ordinary Yemeni citizens in a result of the economic deterioration, which makes daily life very difficult.

Throughout your meeting with the different parties in Yemen, and your dialogue with pro and anti government representatives, you must know who is in charge of keeping the situation as it has been for the past 9 months. Who is in charge from your point of view?   

I am quite sure that the solution for this crisis is a Yemeni one, and not from abroad from areas like Saudia Arabia, the United States, or the United Kingdom. In a different world we need to reach a political agreement among all those in charge including, political parties, youth groups, NGO’s in Yemen. The role of international player is also important and positive as they should encourage the local parties to reach the quick peaceful solution. It is without a doubt that the solution will not come from outside Yemen. I am worried once I hear someone asking where is the international community? Where is the foreigner solution? And I usually tell them do not expect and outside resolution or miracle from outside. I am afraid that any outside intervention in this crisis would be very dangerous to the future of the country. We need a Yemeni resolution, and that is why I am afraid if Yemen fails to do so, as they may expect a new initiative or something else from abroad. In fact, between March and May, the diplomatic actions of the GCC were very successful where the USA and UK brought every party together and develop a political vision for a resolution and organize the transition period. The solution is there; we did it and achieved it in a previous draft.

Do you mean the Gulf Initiative?

Yes, but we need more from President Saleh, as well the opposition a political will to make concessions for a peaceful resolution based on the GCC initiative principles, and the principles agreed upon in the last few weeks which resulted on the dialogue between the ruling party and opposition.

Do you mean the mechanism which was conducted by UN representative Jamal Bi-Omer?

Of course the UN representative was there and he played a vital role, but in fact that ideas are originally Yemeni ideas, which they chose to have dialogue with all political parties in the country.

You did not answer my question, please answer with a lower diplomatic style. Were you were aware of the dialogue with Deputy President and the opposition where the parties accused each other of Bin Omer leaving the talks and the country? Who failed the Bin Omer mission from your point of view? 

In my point of view there is a wide acceptance by the ruling party as well the opposition on the available principles, which all agreed on as mechanism for starting the Gulf Initiative. But what we need from both parties is to accept the idea to make concessions, despite the existence of dispute.

Pardon me, what are the required concessions from government and opposition?

There is discussion about the mechanism implementation details, for example there is an agreement about the principle of an early election after few months of electing new president. Regarding the dispute about the details, for that we need serious dialogue between the two parties to achieve what was agreed on.
We need strong political decisions from President Saleh to clarify to the Yemenis that he is ready for transition to fulfill his commitments for the last negotiation. I should be very frank, there is crisis of distrust that needs to be overcome to make clear decisions for a safer Yemen. We do not need talk any more, the time for talk is over.

So, Saleh needs to sign the initiative and transfer power, what about the opposition?

Of course this is a stable position for UK, KSA, USA and other countries toward signing the initiative. However the president has rejecting this and he said he has reservations regarding the mechanism operation and some other details. We have worked very hard to achieve dialogue about these details. In my opinion, the peaceful solution is there and can be approved by everyone, but there is no good reason for the postponement under the dangerous degradation of the economic and humanitarian situation in the country where the ordinary people pay the costs. I usually say that Yemen is another planet in politics, because we have a peaceful solution supported by the whole entire world and the representatives of all parties support it, but there are some members who want to pull the country into a disaster.

Some of opposition members say that the problem is not with President Saleh, but with some of his family members and party members who are preventing any deal from being reached. How do you see this matter?

As I told you, so far there are some members here and there who push against a peaceful solution. This is strategically wrong in my opinion, because the parties, main personalities in this conflict have a common interest in a peaceful and balanced solution to address the essential root of the crisis, the economic crisis. All of the actors have economic, business, trade and personal interest which are suffering because of the deterioration of their country.  Unfortunately, until now there are no rational decisions in this regard. So here is our duty as politicians, rational and international player to convince them and reject a peaceful solution to protect their personal interest because they are not benefiting from the current situation.

So, you look at the dispute for personal interest, not for the interest on the country?

For sure, there are well known personal conflicts, but as I mentioned so far there are three different levels for this crisis: the essential and original level based on the economy crisis, second level based on the Arab Spring which require the participation of youth, NGO’s and marginalized on political issues. This is the political level for the Yemen crisis, and then we have the personal conflicts among Al-Ahmer sons, President’s sons and Ali Mohsin. We need a political reform in order to overcome the main challenges and its economic challenges.

Do you feel that President Saleh is worried about his enemies taking his power and turning it against him to bring justice to him and his team? Is this why he won’t let go of power, as part of self defense?

Of course this is important subject, and it is important for all Yemenis in respect to dealing with the past and what happened with all of the mistakes, crimes and accusations.  We call for a serious dialogue in this regard within the frame work of national dialogue about crucial issues for Yemen’s future, including law, the constitution and the forms of political and federal systems and the relations between center and regional areas, or what is called transitional justice and this is very important. The examples we have seen in other countries, Eastern Europe, South Africa, the negations in this matter is very critical and important and it is left for the people of Yemen to decide. We call for full contribution with no exceptions or marginalizing the national dialogue about all these issues including Houthies, southern movement, youth, civil society, opposition and ruling party. All parties need to reach the mechanism of how to deal with this issue. The crimes against protestors in the last few months should also be taken in the consideration at the same time such as the assassination attempt of the President, prime minister and other VIP government members who were praying on Friday June 3rd this year on al-Nahdayen mosque. It was a heinous crime we need to look in to all of it in a very objectively and with justice.

Its seems that Britain and Europe are interested in changing the political leadership in Yemen, without touching the security infrastructure which you have invested in for your personal interest in fighting terrorism, how do you look at this matter?

In regard of the change in Yemen, it is wanted by the majority of the Yemeni, even the president himself accepts that. He accepts the idea of change and he believes that the change is coming. The interest of the UK and its partners is to have peaceful change and avoid chaos, deterioration, humanitarian crisis and civil war. I am worried to see a humanitarian disaster before we achieve political reform simply because of the presence of al-Qeada in the country. The country needs an effective campaign to overtake al-Qeada’s presence, because it threatens Yemen, the region as well as our countries. This is no secret and we need to keep the country away from any chaos and continue the security institutions for their experience and know-how.  But we need respect the human rights of all Yemenis and we do not want have anti-terrorist campaign in Yemen that will lead to dis-respecting human rights there.

Does this mean you reject any changes security leadership in the country, simply because you have invested in the special forces, anti-terrorism forces for example?

Yes, this is part of the heart of the political negotiations among all parties, I mean re-forming the security firms, because the weakness of the Yemeni government in the past years was largely due to divisions and differences in these institutions, mainly after Ali Mohsin left the regime last March. It is quite clear that you cannot build a modern government with such dispute. And for that we need peaceful resolution and the Gulf Initiative to move into a new transition and we need the experience of the military and security leaders. We do not want what is so called eradication and this is essential, simply because Yemen society will face chaos and we need to keep the country away from chaos which would help the criminals and terrorist mainly al-Qeada.

The government in Sana’a is repeating the story if the regimes fall the replacement will be al-Qeada and you have to choose, is this true ?

NO, this is not true, the replacement is not another person or an Islamist party, neither al-Qeada. The replacement will be transition period and there will be a balance of all political powers in the country. The replacement is a new political system based on the principles of full partnership for all at the minister’s cabinet, in parliament. We need clear discussion from all the people and parties I mentioned earlier – with no exception.

You know that the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Yemen are behind the reason why there are many people in the street, they are big headline. Are you ready to cooperate with a government with a leader from the Muslim Brotherhood in the coming period?

The United Kingdom does not have any objection to the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood or any party that accepts democracy, respects participation and respect others opinion. We have good contacts with all political parties in Yemen including Islah party and others. I think that all political powers in Yemen agree to accept the participation of all members of the civil community and for them to have the opportunity in the next transition period and national dialogue about all important issues. With that, we do not have any problem with any party who accept these principles.

If there will be an Islamic government in Yemen, do you think they cooperate with you in fighting terrorism?

I am sure and this is my personal analysis after one year in Yemen. There is a natural balance between the secular and Islamic parties, between the ruling party and other parties, as well minority, regional, independent and the new political powers. I assume that they will form joint government in the next transition period, and I believe this is the best way to keep the country away from chaos, and to build new understanding in order to deal with the current economic crisis in Yemen.
The opposition and youth formed what is so called the national council, do you think Britain and partners will admit this council?
If the national council accepts democracy and natural diversity of Yemen society, a peaceful transition, early elections, it is most welcome.

Does this mean you will admit the national council as a replacement to Saleh regime?

No, we have a dialogue between all parties and we have to encourage dialogue as the best opportunity for a peaceful solution because the if the Libyan example were to happen in Yemen it will lead into a disaster. This is also the opinion of the national council; who have informed us that they do not want to form a replacement government, but they want to unify the opposition in order strengthen their power against the ruling party.

There is news of transferring the Yemeni file to the Security Council, is this true? And if so, will the Security Council issue any decision and what is the form of the resolution if issued?

Yes, there are negotiations at the Security Council regarding the Yemen. Bin Omer, the representative of the United Nations, went to Yemen 4 to 5 times until now. There will be discussion after the presentation of the report by the UN Envoy. I do not want to predict events, but I think that Russian and Chinese position in regard of the Yemeni situation are very close to the French, American and British and all encourage dialogue and the Gulf Initiative as well calling Saleh to sign the gulf initiative in order to avoid entering a period of conflict. In other words, this is international consensus on Yemen which makes the Yemeni case an exception from the cases of Syria and Libya. This is very encouraging to exert pressure on the side rejecting the peaceful solution. After that we need the whole world to agree on helping Yemen, because the government in Yemen will need effective relations with the donors and international players as well Arab and foreign countries to enhance peace, security and stability to move the economic wheels and end many problems in the country.

Do you have any observation on Ali Mohsin al-Ahmer and his relations with Islamists, does it bother you?

We contacted all parties and Brigadier Ali Mohsin played a very important role during the past few months. Whatever we ask the president to do, we ask him the same and to respect the rules, regulations, flexibility, and gulf initiative. We believe that Mohsin played a good role with the opposition and he is very influential person. We encourage him to accept dialogue and the terms of the gulf initiative.

Do you think that Yemen will go into a civil war?

I’m afraid that of this situation, but what we have seen in the past month, because of the continuing dialogue between the different parties but what we have seen in the past months, because of the continues dialogue will all parties has contained the tension and personal conflicts. However, every week and every day that passes worries me about a dramatic deterioration toward chaos in the country. We should not forget that the situation is very dangerous and the political leaders should overcome their interests and put the interest of the country and the ordinary people first. Now life in Yemen has become very hard, and this group of self-serving people, if they believe in change, they should feel responsibility for the living circumstances of the poor and ordinary people.

After Saleh returns back from Saudia Arabia, with who will you deal with? With his deputy or with him?

We deal with all parties in Yemen. We hope that if the president announces that if he is coming back to Yemen that he is ready sign the Gulf Initiative and continue the dialogue process. He has created mistrust between himself and the other parties. We accordingly request him to not run away and sit with other parties to agree on the final details of a political deal already supported by the rest of the world.

If this does not happen, will there be any punishment against the regime in Yemen?

There is no discussion about sanctions now. Why? Because first, we do not want the punishment to increase the suffering by the Yemeni people who are already paying heavy costs.  There are also no discussions on personal sanctions either. Now there are ongoing initiatives of dialogue and we would like this to continue. This situation is very different that in Syria, therefore I believe that the debate will be among the major powers in the Security Council on the completion of the dialogue initiative and the transition period.

It is well known that visa services and the councilor section of the Sana’a embassy is closed, as well the Britsih government suspended all Yemenia flights to UK, what are the reasons and they will resume relations?

I face this question when ever I meet the Yemeni community or the Yemeni ambassador to London. I clearly informed them that the security issues in their country does not allow us to reopen the councilor visa section for the time being, because the embassy target for al-Qeada in Yemen and the embassy is concerned about any such threats . Above all else, we do not want to harm the lives of those who come to the embassy and require the visa services. I believe if we want to develop the two countries relations we should resume the Yemenia flights and reopen the councilor section at the embassy in Sana’a. But first we have to deal with political crisis in the country and then the economy.  This will help to develop the security to overcome al-Qeada and the international terrorism which is present in Yemen.
If we achieve this it will bring back these services quickly, as well the bring back the essential relations between the two countries. Britain is very keen on building its relations with Yemen and we will try our best in the coming period to over come such obstacles and have to focus in the peaceful solution. This will open the space to develop the political and commercial relationships of Yemen.   I have sat with some officials regarding the arrangement of youth and athletes for Yemen’s participation in the London Olympics which will be held next year  and this will serve as a good opportunity to show the other face of Yemen. There are good opportunities for investment in Yemen, mainly in culture and sport, which would help to enrich both countries relations. I do not want look as if I am losing hope, but let us be very realistic in evaluating the risk which face us, which we hope to over come soon.British Ambassador, Jonathan Wilks  to the Middle East Newspaper, “Nonetalks about eradication… killing protesters…. and that the assassination eattempt of President Saleh is a crime.
In an interview conducted by the Middle East and Translated into English by National Yemen; The British Ambassador to Yemen Mr. Jonthan Wilks in London had a lot to say regarding Yemen. His main points are summarized:

  • What is happening in Yemen is primarily an economic crisis.
  • The Arab spring diverted the events into a political crisis among political parties.
  • Change in Yemen is a must now, and the President Saleh believes in it and he must sign the gulf initiative and hand over the power peacefully.
  • As crimes are committed against protesters, the protesters should look at crime of the attempted assassination of President Saleh.
  • Yemenis have the right agree on a round table.
  • He is in contact with all parties in Yemen and the UK government does not mind if the Muslim Brotherhood leads the government or other groups. That is if they respect democracy, partnership principles and human rights.
  • The deliberation of the Security Council on Yemen will not impose sanctions on the regime or individuals for the time being.

Firstly, what is happening in Yemen? Is it a revolution or a political crisis?

Of course there is a very dangerous political crisis in Yemen and it has been quite noticeable for the past months. The situation in Yemen, politically, security economically as well humanitarian is continuously deteriorating. The British attitude remains in the importance of finding a quick peaceful resolution. The change in Yemen is coming without a doubt; the question here is about how the change will occur.  Will the change be peaceful or violation, quick or slow? Of course the British government prefers the quick peaceful solution. There were a good and successful efforts made by UK and its Arab, European and American allies such as the reasonable draft under what is called Gulf Initiative, and this remains the only draft for all parties. There was a dialogue over the past months about the current problems in the country to agree on the technical details of the gulf initiative. Accordingly, the peaceful resolution is there and must be approved by all pro and anti-parties, and the president and needs the opposition to sit together and sign the initiative to start transition period. This is highly required by the British government and it will continue its efforts to convince both parties to achieve this process.

This is very good introduction about the initiative, but you did not answer if what is happening in Yemen a political crises or public revolution from your point of view?

As I told you, what is happening in Yemen is a political crisis, but this crisis has been in Yemen for many years as it is an economic crisis. There is not enough economic resources in Yemen so the crisis began as an economic issue and simple evolved into the Arab Spring and youth protests. This shift is where the crisis switched from an economic one to a political one.  In other word this is a new element to the crisis. The British government respects the protestors demand for reform and change, but we have to understand that it is primarily an economic crisis. The problem now is on the deterioration of the social living for the ordinary Yemeni citizens in a result of the economic deterioration, which makes daily life very difficult.

Throughout your meeting with the different parties in Yemen, and your dialogue with pro and anti government representatives, you must know who is in charge of keeping the situation as it has been for the past 9 months. Who is in charge from your point of view?   

I am quite sure that the solution for this crisis is a Yemeni one, and not from abroad from areas like Saudia Arabia, the United States, or the United Kingdom. In a different world we need to reach a political agreement among all those in charge including, political parties, youth groups, NGO’s in Yemen. The role of international player is also important and positive as they should encourage the local parties to reach the quick peaceful solution. It is without a doubt that the solution will not come from outside Yemen. I am worried once I hear someone asking where is the international community? Where is the foreigner solution? And I usually tell them do not expect and outside resolution or miracle from outside. I am afraid that any outside intervention in this crisis would be very dangerous to the future of the country. We need a Yemeni resolution, and that is why I am afraid if Yemen fails to do so, as they may expect a new initiative or something else from abroad. In fact, between March and May, the diplomatic actions of the GCC were very successful where the USA and UK brought every party together and develop a political vision for a resolution and organize the transition period. The solution is there; we did it and achieved it in a previous draft.

Do you mean the Gulf Initiative?

Yes, but we need more from President Saleh, as well the opposition a political will to make concessions for a peaceful resolution based on the GCC initiative principles, and the principles agreed upon in the last few weeks which resulted on the dialogue between the ruling party and opposition.

Do you mean the mechanism which was conducted by UN representative Jamal Bi-Omer?

Of course the UN representative was there and he played a vital role, but in fact that ideas are originally Yemeni ideas, which they chose to have dialogue with all political parties in the country.

You did not answer my question, please answer with a lower diplomatic style. Were you were aware of the dialogue with Deputy President and the opposition where the parties accused each other of Bin Omer leaving the talks and the country? Who failed the Bin Omer mission from your point of view? 

In my point of view there is a wide acceptance by the ruling party as well the opposition on the available principles, which all agreed on as mechanism for starting the Gulf Initiative. But what we need from both parties is to accept the idea to make concessions, despite the existence of dispute.

Pardon me, what are the required concessions from government and opposition?

There is discussion about the mechanism implementation details, for example there is an agreement about the principle of an early election after few months of electing new president. Regarding the dispute about the details, for that we need serious dialogue between the two parties to achieve what was agreed on.
We need strong political decisions from President Saleh to clarify to the Yemenis that he is ready for transition to fulfill his commitments for the last negotiation. I should be very frank, there is crisis of distrust that needs to be overcome to make clear decisions for a safer Yemen. We do not need talk any more, the time for talk is over.

So, Saleh needs to sign the initiative and transfer power, what about the opposition?

Of course this is a stable position for UK, KSA, USA and other countries toward signing the initiative. However the president has rejecting this and he said he has reservations regarding the mechanism operation and some other details. We have worked very hard to achieve dialogue about these details. In my opinion, the peaceful solution is there and can be approved by everyone, but there is no good reason for the postponement under the dangerous degradation of the economic and humanitarian situation in the country where the ordinary people pay the costs. I usually say that Yemen is another planet in politics, because we have a peaceful solution supported by the whole entire world and the representatives of all parties support it, but there are some members who want to pull the country into a disaster.

Some of opposition members say that the problem is not with President Saleh, but with some of his family members and party members who are preventing any deal from being reached. How do you see this matter?

As I told you, so far there are some members here and there who push against a peaceful solution. This is strategically wrong in my opinion, because the parties, main personalities in this conflict have a common interest in a peaceful and balanced solution to address the essential root of the crisis, the economic crisis. All of the actors have economic, business, trade and personal interest which are suffering because of the deterioration of their country.  Unfortunately, until now there are no rational decisions in this regard. So here is our duty as politicians, rational and international player to convince them and reject a peaceful solution to protect their personal interest because they are not benefiting from the current situation.

So, you look at the dispute for personal interest, not for the interest on the country?

For sure, there are well known personal conflicts, but as I mentioned so far there are three different levels for this crisis: the essential and original level based on the economy crisis, second level based on the Arab Spring which require the participation of youth, NGO’s and marginalized on political issues. This is the political level for the Yemen crisis, and then we have the personal conflicts among Al-Ahmer sons, President’s sons and Ali Mohsin. We need a political reform in order to overcome the main challenges and its economic challenges.

Do you feel that President Saleh is worried about his enemies taking his power and turning it against him to bring justice to him and his team? Is this why he won’t let go of power, as part of self defense?

Of course this is important subject, and it is important for all Yemenis in respect to dealing with the past and what happened with all of the mistakes, crimes and accusations.  We call for a serious dialogue in this regard within the frame work of national dialogue about crucial issues for Yemen’s future, including law, the constitution and the forms of political and federal systems and the relations between center and regional areas, or what is called transitional justice and this is very important. The examples we have seen in other countries, Eastern Europe, South Africa, the negations in this matter is very critical and important and it is left for the people of Yemen to decide. We call for full contribution with no exceptions or marginalizing the national dialogue about all these issues including Houthies, southern movement, youth, civil society, opposition and ruling party. All parties need to reach the mechanism of how to deal with this issue. The crimes against protestors in the last few months should also be taken in the consideration at the same time such as the assassination attempt of the President, prime minister and other VIP government members who were praying on Friday June 3rd this year on al-Nahdayen mosque. It was a heinous crime we need to look in to all of it in a very objectively and with justice.

Its seems that Britain and Europe are interested in changing the political leadership in Yemen, without touching the security infrastructure which you have invested in for your personal interest in fighting terrorism, how do you look at this matter?

In regard of the change in Yemen, it is wanted by the majority of the Yemeni, even the president himself accepts that. He accepts the idea of change and he believes that the change is coming. The interest of the UK and its partners is to have peaceful change and avoid chaos, deterioration, humanitarian crisis and civil war. I am worried to see a humanitarian disaster before we achieve political reform simply because of the presence of al-Qeada in the country. The country needs an effective campaign to overtake al-Qeada’s presence, because it threatens Yemen, the region as well as our countries. This is no secret and we need to keep the country away from any chaos and continue the security institutions for their experience and know-how.  But we need respect the human rights of all Yemenis and we do not want have anti-terrorist campaign in Yemen that will lead to dis-respecting human rights there.

Does this mean you reject any changes security leadership in the country, simply because you have invested in the special forces, anti-terrorism forces for example?

Yes, this is part of the heart of the political negotiations among all parties, I mean re-forming the security firms, because the weakness of the Yemeni government in the past years was largely due to divisions and differences in these institutions, mainly after Ali Mohsin left the regime last March. It is quite clear that you cannot build a modern government with such dispute. And for that we need peaceful resolution and the Gulf Initiative to move into a new transition and we need the experience of the military and security leaders. We do not want what is so called eradication and this is essential, simply because Yemen society will face chaos and we need to keep the country away from chaos which would help the criminals and terrorist mainly al-Qeada.

The government in Sana’a is repeating the story if the regimes fall the replacement will be al-Qeada and you have to choose, is this true ?

NO, this is not true, the replacement is not another person or an Islamist party, neither al-Qeada. The replacement will be transition period and there will be a balance of all political powers in the country. The replacement is a new political system based on the principles of full partnership for all at the minister’s cabinet, in parliament. We need clear discussion from all the people and parties I mentioned earlier – with no exception.

You know that the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Yemen are behind the reason why there are many people in the street, they are big headline. Are you ready to cooperate with a government with a leader from the Muslim Brotherhood in the coming period?

The United Kingdom does not have any objection to the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood or any party that accepts democracy, respects participation and respect others opinion. We have good contacts with all political parties in Yemen including Islah party and others. I think that all political powers in Yemen agree to accept the participation of all members of the civil community and for them to have the opportunity in the next transition period and national dialogue about all important issues. With that, we do not have any problem with any party who accept these principles.

If there will be an Islamic government in Yemen, do you think they cooperate with you in fighting terrorism?

I am sure and this is my personal analysis after one year in Yemen. There is a natural balance between the secular and Islamic parties, between the ruling party and other parties, as well minority, regional, independent and the new political powers. I assume that they will form joint government in the next transition period, and I believe this is the best way to keep the country away from chaos, and to build new understanding in order to deal with the current economic crisis in Yemen.
The opposition and youth formed what is so called the national council, do you think Britain and partners will admit this council?
If the national council accepts democracy and natural diversity of Yemen society, a peaceful transition, early elections, it is most welcome.

Does this mean you will admit the national council as a replacement to Saleh regime?

No, we have a dialogue between all parties and we have to encourage dialogue as the best opportunity for a peaceful solution because the if the Libyan example were to happen in Yemen it will lead into a disaster. This is also the opinion of the national council; who have informed us that they do not want to form a replacement government, but they want to unify the opposition in order strengthen their power against the ruling party.

There is news of transferring the Yemeni file to the Security Council, is this true? And if so, will the Security Council issue any decision and what is the form of the resolution if issued?

Yes, there are negotiations at the Security Council regarding the Yemen. Bin Omer, the representative of the United Nations, went to Yemen 4 to 5 times until now. There will be discussion after the presentation of the report by the UN Envoy. I do not want to predict events, but I think that Russian and Chinese position in regard of the Yemeni situation are very close to the French, American and British and all encourage dialogue and the Gulf Initiative as well calling Saleh to sign the gulf initiative in order to avoid entering a period of conflict. In other words, this is international consensus on Yemen which makes the Yemeni case an exception from the cases of Syria and Libya. This is very encouraging to exert pressure on the side rejecting the peaceful solution. After that we need the whole world to agree on helping Yemen, because the government in Yemen will need effective relations with the donors and international players as well Arab and foreign countries to enhance peace, security and stability to move the economic wheels and end many problems in the country.

Do you have any observation on Ali Mohsin al-Ahmer and his relations with Islamists, does it bother you?

We contacted all parties and Brigadier Ali Mohsin played a very important role during the past few months. Whatever we ask the president to do, we ask him the same and to respect the rules, regulations, flexibility, and gulf initiative. We believe that Mohsin played a good role with the opposition and he is very influential person. We encourage him to accept dialogue and the terms of the gulf initiative.

Do you think that Yemen will go into a civil war?

I’m afraid that of this situation, but what we have seen in the past month, because of the continuing dialogue between the different parties but what we have seen in the past months, because of the continues dialogue will all parties has contained the tension and personal conflicts. However, every week and every day that passes worries me about a dramatic deterioration toward chaos in the country. We should not forget that the situation is very dangerous and the political leaders should overcome their interests and put the interest of the country and the ordinary people first. Now life in Yemen has become very hard, and this group of self-serving people, if they believe in change, they should feel responsibility for the living circumstances of the poor and ordinary people.

After Saleh returns back from Saudia Arabia, with who will you deal with? With his deputy or with him?

We deal with all parties in Yemen. We hope that if the president announces that if he is coming back to Yemen that he is ready sign the Gulf Initiative and continue the dialogue process. He has created mistrust between himself and the other parties. We accordingly request him to not run away and sit with other parties to agree on the final details of a political deal already supported by the rest of the world.

If this does not happen, will there be any punishment against the regime in Yemen?

There is no discussion about sanctions now. Why? Because first, we do not want the punishment to increase the suffering by the Yemeni people who are already paying heavy costs.  There are also no discussions on personal sanctions either. Now there are ongoing initiatives of dialogue and we would like this to continue. This situation is very different that in Syria, therefore I believe that the debate will be among the major powers in the Security Council on the completion of the dialogue initiative and the transition period.

It is well known that visa services and the councilor section of the Sana’a embassy is closed, as well the Britsih government suspended all Yemenia flights to UK, what are the reasons and they will resume relations?

I face this question when ever I meet the Yemeni community or the Yemeni ambassador to London. I clearly informed them that the security issues in their country does not allow us to reopen the councilor visa section for the time being, because the embassy target for al-Qeada in Yemen and the embassy is concerned about any such threats . Above all else, we do not want to harm the lives of those who come to the embassy and require the visa services. I believe if we want to develop the two countries relations we should resume the Yemenia flights and reopen the councilor section at the embassy in Sana’a. But first we have to deal with political crisis in the country and then the economy.  This will help to develop the security to overcome al-Qeada and the international terrorism which is present in Yemen.
If we achieve this it will bring back these services quickly, as well the bring back the essential relations between the two countries. Britain is very keen on building its relations with Yemen and we will try our best in the coming period to over come such obstacles and have to focus in the peaceful solution. This will open the space to develop the political and commercial relationships of Yemen.   I have sat with some officials regarding the arrangement of youth and athletes for Yemen’s participation in the London Olympics which will be held next year  and this will serve as a good opportunity to show the other face of Yemen. There are good opportunities for investment in Yemen, mainly in culture and sport, which would help to enrich both countries relations. I do not want look as if I am losing hope, but let us be very realistic in evaluating the risk which face us, which we hope to over come soon.