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Tawakkol Karman: A Revolutionary Wave Will Occur In Yemen

National Yemen

By NY Staff

National Yemen newspaper republishes the interview of the Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman with Al-Araby.

Karman accused the head of the former Yemeni NSB, Ammar Mohammed Abdullah Saleh and his uncle, the former president Saleh, of breaking into her house, using the Houthi militias last September.

Karman, who returned finally to Sana’a after the capital Sana’a was taken over by the Houthis, said that she didn’t receive any reassurances about returning her homeland, stressing that not only the Reform Party is targeted.

Karman, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, expects a new revolutionary wave in Yemen as a result of the revolution by Saleh and the Houthis.

Interview by Mohammad Azam

You have been out of the country for a long time, are you thinking about a permanent residence outside Yemen?   

My permanent residence is in Sana’a and traveling abroad is only for participation in events and activities. I can manage my activities inside and outside the country. When I finish from my visits abroad I go back immediately to Yemen.

Did you receive any reassurances for your safety when Islah was targeted by the Houthis?

No, I didn’t. Under the control of Houthis and the weakness of state there aren’t any reassurances. However our safety is the last thing we think about it.

Actually, we faced circumstances more difficult during the peaceful revolution, but saving people from the corrupt system is more important than our lives.

In fact, not only was Islah targeted, but also Yemenis and their dreams for change targeted. Therefore, educated and civil people are assassinated like Mohammed Abdulmalik al-Mutawakkil, even though he doesn’t belong to Islah, and Sadiq Mansour, one of Islah’s leaders in Taiz.

After returning to Sana’a, what is your coming role?

Under the control of the Houthis and the spread of arms, I think my role is to face violence, killing and war and to return some of the state’s control through contribution and partnership with the Yemeni youth, civil society organizations, and other political and social components to stop this tampering with our people and our future.

To provide peace and build a comprehensive development under a national state for all Yemenis is the responsibility of me and every Yemeni.

What is your attitude towards Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the new government?

Hadi and the members of his government lack the public power, especially with the failed restructuring of the army and security.

Therefore, it is no wonder the army and the security services don’t care about Hadi and care more about the people who will pay them.

Hadi didn’t do his role well. He committed many big mistakes that led to the surrender of state institutions in front of the armed militia, which threatens the safety of the Yemeni state.

So, my role is to return the state, and its institutions either through Hadi, the government, or any other choice that achieves the Yemenis’ ambitions in building the state of law.

From my side, I will support anyone who goes in this direction and I will declare my rejection in front of any behavior against the state and its power.

You have described Saleh as the havoc engineer, who is the savior?

Yes, he is the havoc engineer. He has never stopped making problems throughout Hadi’s rule. Hadi and the government worked against each other, they were selfish in a lot of issues, which helped Saleh to implement all his dark plans.

About the savoir, I think the idea of an individual savoir is unrealistic, but the free Yemeni soul is the savoir. I think the way to salvation in the present moment is a national project starting from the outputs of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC).

Did you imagine the scenario of the fall of Sana’a and control of the Houthis? 

In Yemen there is a permanent race between peace and war. We always think what is worse than what is happening now? It’s the system of Saleh that made all the decisions and factors destroy Yemen and Yemenis.

All the dangers and obstacles were expected, except the weakness of the state and its institutions, which became ghosts and mafia gangs designed by Saleh during his rule.

In your opinion, why was your house in Sana’a targeted by Houthis?

Houthis said that they occupied my house to protect it. They think that they insulted me by this behavior but the fact is that such behavior brings shame to those who implemented it. For me, I felt happy because I shared Yemenis some of what they faced during the occupation of the Houthis.

I have received information from reliable sources that my house was broken into by an order of the head of the former Yemeni NSB, Ammar Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, and implemented by the Houthis.

That was according to the partnership between Saleh and Houthis who became his followers and implemented Saleh’s desires for revenge on everyone that shared in the revolution against him.

Did any Houthis leaders connect with you?

If you mean during the fall of Sana’a and the occupation of my house, no there wasn’t any direct communication between me and any of the Houthi leaders.

In general?

I was in contact with them during the Revolution and the NDC, then we stopped.

Why this big campaign of the Houthis against Islah?

Actually I don’t know what are the reasons that make Houthis consider the Reform Party the primary enemy for them.

They may think that Islah is a direct threat to their beliefs and presence, though there isn’t anyone who threatens the presence of anyone else. We are different and we will stay different, so we should live peacefully and respect each other.

Do you think the last events killed the youth Revolution?

No, the last events are only an expression of a counter-revolution, the existence of the counter-revolution does not mean that the main revolution has died or it didn’t happen.

When you hear about a counter-revolution, you should know that there was a great revolution that happened before. The revolution dies only in one case if the rebels surrendered and people lose their freedom and dignity, and this is the last thing that may happen in Yemen.

No doubt that Revolutions faced many problems in Yemen or in other Arab Spring countries, but counter-revolutions couldn’t achieve a decisive victory. The conflict is still continuing. The Youth Revolution called for demands that were impossible to fail, such as democracy, freedom and fair and good governance.

Do you think a revolutionary wave will occur in Yemen after the events of Saleh and Houthis?

Yes, this is what will happen. Every great Revolution is followed by successive waves, which don’t end until it achieves all its aims.

After the events of the Houthis and Southern Movement, what are the scenarios of the continuation of unity or division?

The control of the Houthis of many areas in Yemen and the weakness of the government led to activating the idea of secession. However, dividing Yemen won’t bring stability. Stability is achieved by establishing a just state and equal citizenship.

Do you think there are interests of some states to give the Houthis the green light to finish reform?

It seems that way, but they should know that stability will come at the end and all the supporters of the Houthis will be punished.

What are the reason behind the collapse of the Yemeni army and them leaving the camps for the Houthis?

It’s not a collapse. Orders were received by the army from a room of Houthis and leaders of army who are still loyal to Saleh and his son.

What is your message to the head of Ansar Allah, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi?

Your wars in Bayda, Amran, and Al-Jawf will not make you a national leader. You will be a princess of the wars’ princesses.

What makes you a national leader is to give up arms and work to build a strong Yemen with the participation of all Yemenis.

You called the activist Asmaa Mahfouz “the Mother of Revolutionaries.” This description caused chaos, especially after her husband refused it?

I think Asmaa’s husband was happy of this description, but he refused it because of the fascist campaign against those who were considered leaders of the revolution. At that time, all were afraid of the system.

I talked with Asmaa and I ensured that she deserved this description from my point of view.

Finally, could you please offer three expected scenarios for Yemen in the future?

You can find hundreds of expected scenarios in Yemen. However, I will believe in a scenario that Yemenis will find solutions for this impasse. I’m Yemeni and Yemenis always win in the end, whatever the difficulties and challenges.