The National Yemen translated this interview made by Okaz, daily Saudi News, with the Yemeni Prime Minster Khalid Bahah to transfer the idea of comprehensive information for the English readers.
First, we thank your Excellency for giving the newspaper Okaz opportunity to meet you as the first newspaper in the world and talk about the future of Yemen, your vision for relations with the UK, and the latest developments in Yemen.
What are the priorities and the program of the coming government and will your focus be on the security and political side only or also on the economic side?
During the past two weeks, the Council of Ministers approved the major determinants of the new government, which is the security situation and providing the appropriate atmosphere to implement the next tasks, on the top of them are the economy. We are seeking to attract investment, alleviate poverty, provide mechanisms to accommodate donor funding, create the climate for the success of the joint efforts to serve the development, and provide job opportunities for young people and job seekers. We are confident that the government, Yemenis, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Saudi Arabia will be able to achieve the ends of these priorities.
Through my presence in Sana’a I felt that the security situation is unstable. How can the new government address the security flaw that has occurred in Yemen, how can it re-prestige the Yemeni state, and what are your plans for controlling carrying weapons?
We recognize that the new government faces very difficult and complex security situations as a result of the past years. Today, the state stands in front of urgent tasks for re-consideration of the concept of comprehensive security. We hope that everyone’s commitment to the outputs of National Dialogue Conference (NDC) and the Peace and Partnership Agreement to save Yemen and history will not have mercy on anyone trying to destroy any agreement under any justification.
It is clear that there is an alliance between the Popular Congress Party and al-Houthi. How do you deal with it?
Understandings and alliances between political forces is good as long as they are within the framework of the Constitution and the NDC outputs. Just a reminder, the NDC is a kind of national coalition committed by everyone. The hope today is that everyone has to be honest with the country and to maintain the supreme interest of the nation over partisan interests.
Security Council imposed sanctions against the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and two leaders of the Houthis; Abdulkhaliq al-Huthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, and the decision includes a travel ban and properties. Why has an application of these sanctions been delayed?
In fact, Yemen entered under Chapter VII and international resolutions and statements, most recently decision 2140 that said “stand in front of any disruptive political process in Yemen”. The decision did not come in the Peace and Partnership Convention. It was by the International Committee of Experts of the UN Security Council that can find legal evidence to condemn the obstructionists. The international organization is condemning the process in Yemen independently and its recent decisions came with concrete evidences and not a political decision. The three people can defend themselves, and the international organization can also defend itself. In my opinion, these sanctions will not be limited to three people, but the door of the sanctions will remain open to anyone disruptive to the political process in the next phase. There is an international organization, and we have accepted that we enter in the framework of its item VII and its decisions, so any political process will be in confrontation with the international community.
Is there any delay in implementing the sanctions or it is the nature of the actions?
The collection of evidence is not easy, in the sense that you get internal or external evidence, but the international organization takes into account the political action on the Yemeni ground is sensitive, meaning that if there was a kind of fluidity and mobility in the political process, they delayed it not stopped it.
How do you see the future of the Yemeni-Saudi relations in all political and economic fields and ways to strengthen security cooperation in the fight against terrorism such as Daash and Al Qaeda?
I assure you that the future of the Yemeni-Saudi relations can only be strong and prosperous on the light of the two wise leaderships of the two countries. Therefore, we have only one way to pass on, which is the partnership in all political, economic and cultural fields. There is no doubt that what we all face as a result of terrorist activities and security challenges, makes the security cooperation a priority. The spread of terrorism threatens the entity of the nation and harms the reputation of our Islamic religion based on moderation, tolerance and non-violence.
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is still keen on the unity, sovereignty and stability of Yemen. How do you see the efforts made by the king to keep Yemen out of the civil war and the GCC support?
King Abdul Aziz supported the NDC outputs as well as supporting the economic and developmental aspects and the Yemeni people appreciated his support and will be recorded in the of pages in the history. I hope this is always the role between the brothers, as he embodies bilateral relations and their role in maintaining the security and stability of the two countries and the region.
What are the aspirations of the Yemeni government about the role of the Kingdom and the support provided to Yemen recently, and how can the two countries strengthen their efforts to overcome the challenges faced by Yemen to maintain a stable and unified Yemen?
In fact, the new Yemeni government recognizes and appreciates the importance of political and humanitarian support provided by the Kingdom in various stages, and we believe that this support is strengthening Yemen’s ability to overcome difficulties. This truth makes us look forward that the role of the Kingdom in the coming period will be enhanced in a larger way to help Yemen overcome the challenges.
Bahah came from the corridors of the United Nations to the corridors of Yemen. What has changed in Sana’a?
Recently, I visited Sana’a for a short time and it was not the same as over the past years. I used to move from one place to another freely, enjoying its narrow roads and the smell of old houses. Now the Yemeni capital Sana’a has changed. Houthi followers are everywhere at its intersections, security centers and the airport. I could not move in Sana’a as usual for security reasons. I did not drink tea in al-Tahrir square and I couldn’t get to the bean restaurant in Bab al-Yemen. My visit was short on time but long in the memories and changes.
“I will tell the people of Yemen what is really happening,” Bahah said. He is betting on the success of Yemen. “There are new alliances; the enemies of yesterday became friends of today. There are data and players in the new political and partisan conflicts.”
Bahah who left his only son and his wife in their apartment in New York City, returned to his country alone and carries in his bag the dreams of the poor and an unknown fate. All his concern is to help his country to be strong and overcome all its difficulties.