BBC talks with Hammed Al-Ahmerabout the changes in support of Saleh, the boycotts in the recent election, President Hadi, accusations of his involvement with the assassination attempt of Saleh, and other relevant topics to the current state of Yemen.
BBC: After the elections, the door was opened for change to take place. In your point of view, how will the change be implemented; especially that people are apprehensive about repeating the scenario of the past in a new shape?
HA: The election was nothing but a strong base for constructing the new country that can never be built on the wrong principles of the past. Our relation with the new president should be built on trust, truth and clear strategies. The past regime had nothing in his hands but a single strategy of staying in power and ruling the country.
BBC: You had a good a relation with the past regime over a long period of time and you were part of the Yemeni political scene. However, your attitude changed when the hereditary issue became clear. Is that right?
HA: Ali Saleh had a good relationship with a lot of prominent figures in the country and Abdullah Hussein Al-Ahmer was always a leader amongst these people. These people were able of reducing the tragedies of Saleh’s way of thinking andwere able to modify his decisions in a way that made them acceptable. However, after reaching the unity and noticing the great support of people for the unity in 1994, Saleh started to believe that he no longer needed partners and that he alone must lead the country. It was then that changes in my attitude began to take place.
BBC: Your speech indicates that your partnership with Saleh came to end. This particularly does not represent the democratic and civil country you want to reach. It simply means that you left Saleh as soon as your interests vanished with the regime.
HA: We could have continued our alliance with him if it was of interest. But, our alliance with the regime was a national one, which he tried to alter into an alliance of his interests. He also tried to make use of them to force his power in certain times.
BBC: As the Secretary-General of the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, what do you think about those who boycotted the elections, including members of the youth movement,southern movement and Houthis? The youth of revolution said they feel afraid of you as a tribal figure whose tribe does not admit the fact of peaceful transition. They also said that you had a great role at the beginning of revolution. Now, how will you contribute to building a civil country?
HA: There were certain parties within the Yemeni system that were devoted to spreadingfalsestatements about the tribes. One of these statements was that tribes were working with the regime to move the country away from a civil society. Also,the people of Taiz suffered from these misleading statements as well. When you stay in Sana’a, you will find that people have misinterpreted the tribal and Taizi people. However, this revolution ended all of these statements about them. In the revolution, people of Taiz and tribal men held the flag of a civil country and people became to knowwho they really were.
As for the issue of boycotting the elections, I would like to note that youth of revolution did not boycott the election as you understand. There are certain sectors like Al-Somoud Youth,who are linked to the Houthis, which boycotted the elections. In this regard, I do question the Al-Houthi’s withdrawal when time came to change the regime he fought against for several years.
BBC: They withdrew because they interpreted elections as nothing but rewriting the old story of Saleh.
HA: I do not believe this is the reason. The reason is that they want to achieve the oldest regime [Imamists] in the history of Yemen rather than being afraid of the older regime. For us, we neither want the oldest nor do we want the older regime. We want to build and be a part of the new civil country so that all Yemenis have no option but to be a part of it.
As for what happened in the south, it was a mere conspiracy of Saleh and his sons. They made use of some ignorant people in the south to confuse the process of election. Majority of south people do not approve what happened. We assured them that their case will always be a priority for us and that they have to be proud that the new president and prime ministers are both southern figures. All relatives of Saleh will soon disappear from the political scene and will leave their military positions.
BBC: What makes you so sure of the removalof these people? When thinking about it, one would think that Yemen is under control of other countries, as nothing would have been achieved without the regional and international intervention.
HA: Although we thank all those who intervened to solve the crisis, we completely reject being under their control. I will note here that all interventions were another way to implement what people took out to street for:the removal of the regime. The United Nations intervened to implement the Gulf Initiative that could not be implemented without Arab supervision.
There will be restructuring for the army and none of the criminals who shed the Yemeni blood will stay in power.
BBC: Is it possible for federalism to be discussed seriously?
HA: All subjects will be discussed, but in my point of view the Yemeni people are united and do not need federalism.
BBC: Let me take another turn in this discussion and talk deeply about the personality of Hameed Al-Ahmer. You have been known for your controversial personality. Most Yemenis want to know your role in the past and present in the revolution. There have been some reports identifying you as first one to plan removal of the regime.
HA: I can in no case say that I have achieved something all by myself — what happened resulted from a collective effort. It was started by political figures that used their peaceful way to demand rights and this made the Yemeni people go to streets to demand their rights peacefully. The only thing I can attribute to myself is breaking the legend of Saleh.
BBC: It was said that you are the one who convinced Ali Mohsen to support the revolution, is it true?
HA: Ali Mohsen does not need to be convinced by anybody. But he may need someone to remind him of his national duty. All I have done is stand in front of Saleh to motivate others to protest and demand their rights.
BBC: How did you respond to Saleh’s accusations that you were involved in the assassination attempt last year? There are a lot of indications that that support this, such as your statements about the issue at the time and the fact that your brother is a member of the Presidential Guard.
HA: What I said at the time was that by striking Al-Hasabah, Saleh exposed himself to being killed at anytime – particularly because there are many who can reach him and kill him.
BBC: Who can reach and kill the president?
HA: There are many. There are undercover agents for Al-Qaeda, to mention some. In this regard, any side trying to accuse another one should first have something in hand to prove his accusations.
BBC: People are accusing you for financial corruption and looting lands in the south. How would you defend yourself?
HA: The new country will bring a new judicial system and everyone who demands us, whether it be personal or public reasons, can go to the judicial system and demand their rights. For me, I have been running my trade through companies and have international accountants. Because of this,every illegal operation would come to the surface. I am sure that my business is fully legal.
What we want in the current time is to work for the civil country without ignoring punishing corrupted people. Hadi must know that when people voted for him they gave him public legitimacy. They gave him the responsibility of stabilizing Yemen and bringing the country to safety. To do this however, he must get rid of all those who are trying to gain to power through his position. I believe Hadi is aware of all these tricks and will not allow it to happen.
BBC: In a democratic country, will you seek the presidency?
HA: We do not care of where we are to serve our country. Our main project is to defend Yemen and its people, no matter where we are. We have to solve the southern issue and ensure them what Saleh created has disappeared forever. TheYemeni people should pay all their attention to the southern issue and work together to solve it. They should work with each other to forget the past and move towards a new Yemen.