Here we provide the full, original text of the interview, with the questions posed by the al-Islah-ye.net website journalist and Islah Assistant Secretary-General's reply.
Q: The foundation of the Yemeni Islah Party was declared on September 13, 1990, as a Yemeni party that politicians described at the time as “born a giant”... So, could you please give us an overview of the dialogues and contacts that preceded the founding stage?
A: First of all, allow me please to congratulate the members and supporters of the Yemeni Islah Party everywhere on the occasion of the Foundation Day. There is no doubt that there were great contacts and discussions that took place before declaring the Party's birth, given that we were preparing to found a large national entity that includes all groups, segments, and sectors of Yemeni society, which will constitute a milestone in political life. These dialogues were necessary to lay the foundations on which the Islah Party was based, especially since a new phase had been formed following the achievement of the blessed Yemeni unity on the basis of democracy and political pluralism. These discussions and dialogues culminated in the declaration of the foundation of a political party, the Yemeni Islah Party, which became one of the pillars of political life and the republican system.
Q: 33 years have passed since the Party's founding. In your opinion, where has the Islah Party achieved success and where has it failed? What does the Islah Party represent for Yemeni political life in an era of democracy and pluralism?
A: Certainly, any party, component, or entity has its successes and shortcomings, but what cannot be disputed is that the Islah Party succeeded in being a fundamental pillar of the republican system and positioned itself at the heart of the political equation and gave the democratic process - despite its primitiveness - great momentum and gained it great importance, and the Party dealt with it responsibly and was keen on its development, and made concessions for the sake of the higher national interest. In fact, the greatest success of the Islah Party is that it is the most important lever for the national project and the watchful eye of the republican system and the Yemeni identity.
As for shortcomings, this is considered normal in a dynamic political party, as it is normal in any human activity, and the Islah Party has its institutions and mechanisms that in turn discover shortcomings in order to avoid them. We also listen to everything that is being asked about this, whether from within the party and its popular base or by observers and those concerned with political affairs.
Q: During the political stations in which the party participated for more than three decades.. What did the Islah Party gain? How did it face transformations and changes, especially since 2011?
A: The Islah Party participated in many presidential, parliamentary, and local elections, as well as referendums. It entered into political alliances with parties, participated in power and in the opposition, and its criterion for participating or not participating in power was the results of the ballot boxes, regardless of their shortcomings. All of these undoubtedly gave the party experience and political maturity and gave it great flexibility in dealing. The summary of these experiences and relationships led the party to create the future after ending the coup and restoring the state.
As for the transformations since 2011, the Islah Party dealt with these transformations with national responsibility with its political action partners and moved beyond the past to confront the dangers facing the republic and all political forces. I believe that everyone is aware of this matter, and the Islah Party will continue to follow this approach.
Q: The Islah Party had clear and unambiguous positions regarding the Houthi militia’s coup that put it in direct confrontation with the militia, and for the sake of its positions it paid a large tax from its leaders, cadres, and institutions. Was this position thoughtful and resulted from the decision of the party’s institutions?
A: The Islah Party’s position on the coup and the armed rebellion of the Houthi militia that preceded it and its invasion of cities and villages, stemmed from the national interest, its concern for the state, and its adherence to the republican system, which is based on the popular will, which the militia came to confiscate and restore the Imami priesthood that the people had rejected. This position is the decision of the party institutions, and it stems from the conviction, principles, and constants of the party and all its members who have been the solid bloc of the national battle since its beginning, and for this, they have made great sacrifices and are still making the most precious of what they have until the coup of the remnants of the Imamate project ends and the republic, the state project, the national consensus, and the popular will triumph.
Q: The Islah Party was and still is at the head of the national forces that sided completely with legitimacy to confront the coup and entered with its full weight in the battle to restore the state. What are the starting-points of the Islah Party in this historical position?
A: As I previously mentioned, the Islah Party proceeds from its adherence to the national constants that constitute the essence of the struggle of the Yemeni people over the past decades. The Yemeni people and their political forces have unanimously agreed upon this because it is the summary of the goals of the Yemeni national movement. Therefore, it was natural for the Islah Party to put its full weight behind the national consensus against which the Imamate militia turned, and this is something that cannot be bargained over. Hence, it is clear that the Islah Party has combined steadfastness in national principles and constants and flexibility in its political position.
Q: Regarding the Islah Party’s relationship with the political parties and forces present in the arena, here, I am referring to the parties and forces included in the Presidential Leadership Council and the government.. So, How do you evaluate the level of relationship and contact them?
A: We in the Islah Party are keen today to communicate with all partners in the struggle and partners of the nation and political work of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, proceeding from our belief that the national battle is everyone’s battle and that unity of ranks, position and overcoming differences constitutes a basic pillar in victory for Yemen and the people. We realize that the remnants of the Imamate infiltrated through the voids formed as a result of political disputes and that the national and historical duty and responsibility require cohesion to restore the state and restore rights to the Yemeni people.
In fact, we have come a long way, but there is still a lot to do, and this is what calls on all of us to move beyond the past and quickly form a unified national front that bears the responsibility of preserving the republican system, identity, and constants, strengthening and consolidating them, and dispelling all the dangers that threaten them.
Q: The Islah Party has repeatedly called for greater cohesion between the political forces, including the General People’s Congress Party and the Yemeni Islah Party. Have you found today a willingness to accept this call on the part of your political action partners and struggle partners?
A: The Secretary-General of the Yemeni Islah Party emphasized these issues through his recent congratulatory message to the leadership of the General People’s Congress Party on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of their party, which the Islah Party repeatedly confirmed. These calls, whether issued by us or by other forces, are welcome and have great momentum. There remain practical steps and a major leap that will re-arrange the national ranks and strengthen its cohesion in a way that works to accelerate the process of restoring the state and homeland and saving Yemen from the danger of the Imamate bulldozing project in areas controlled by the militia. This is the responsibility of all of us to Allah, our people, and our future generations.
Q: Does the Islah Party have a vision to help the people in areas controlled by the Houthi militia, as well as save them from the militia’s oppression and attempts to sweep away identity and constants and poison the generation?
A: The issue of saving our people from the oppression of the militias, the Imamate impoverishment and starvation project, and the destruction of identity and land will only be achieved through restoring the state, and this is what everyone must understand. However, this does not mean that we remain helpless, as the matter requires that the state, its institutions, parties, and cultural events play their role in spreading awareness, immunizing youth, and delivering the national protective discourse to every family and home. We in the Islah Party, in turn, have not and will not fail to spread national and humanitarian awareness through our means and according to our capabilities, and we will make every effort to remove the lightning bolts and intellectual mines that the Houthi militia tried to plant in our country, which contradicting the beliefs, culture, and identity of our Yemeni people.
Q: Regarding the suffering of the people as a result of the deteriorating living conditions, the collapse of the national currency, and parliamentary reports that talk about corruption... How will the Islah Party stand by the citizens, reflect their pain, and embrace their hopes, especially since the Islah Party is participating in the government?
A: Since its founding, the Islah Party has pledged to stand by the people and adopt their concerns and aspirations, whether the party is in or out of power. Therefore, the party's positions are consistent with this pledge. We call on the Presidential Leadership Council and the Parliament to activate the oversight bodies, the government and its institutions, and we work through our representatives to make decisions that will work to stop the ongoing deterioration, block the sources of corruption, and relieve the suffering of our patient people. This requires taking effective measures to stop the deterioration of the national currency, developing revenues, rationalizing spending, granting rights and regular disbursement of monthly salaries. We also call on all humanitarian institutions to perform their duties. This is our position from which we will not deviate, and everyone has followed the positions of the Islah Party parliamentary bloc in this regard, which is consistent with this principled position.
Q: Through the Islah Party’s policy activity in contacting ambassadors of friendly and brotherly countries, as well as parties related to the Yemeni issue... I wonder, has the Islah Party achieved the goal of clarifying the issue and removing the confusion created by the Houthi media and the Iranian media machine behind it?
A: In fact, the Islah Party is working to contact and strengthen its political relations, and it harnesses all of this to the benefit of the Yemeni issue and presents it in its true form in order for the world to know that the Yemeni people are facing a racist, rebellious militia that works for a regional project and wants to return these people to the past and confiscates their right to freedom and a decent life. This militia strives to enslave the people according to outdated ideas and imported myths. We affirm that our Yemeni people will only accept achieving their will and governing themselves through the democratic tools they have accepted. Yemen will not be an arena for the Iranian project that poses a threat to Yemen and to regional and international security and peace, and we consider this role as part of our support for legitimacy within our national role in serving our cause.
Q: Now let us move to the topic of the democratic movement within the Islah Party and the elections that took place in many Governorates and resulted in a change in the leadership of the party’s Executive Offices. What is the Islah Party’s goal in taking this step?
A: Since its founding, the Islah Party has been and continues to be keen on an institutional and democratic approach in accordance with its statute and regulations. This indicates its keenness to hold its General Conferences regularly, which was prevented by the political circumstances and then the Houthi coup and its aggressive war on the Yemeni people, which affected the entire political work, disrupted the role of parties, swept away political life, and hindered the regular resumption of holding its General Conferences. But today it emphasizes its keenness on the importance of renewing its leadership and revitalizing its institutions, and this is what happened recently in many Governorates, in which elections were held to choose new leaders for the local Shura Councils. In addition, the Islah Party aims to revive the political and democratic process, which represents the basic foundation for the Republic, especially since we are facing a gang that wants to abolish not only the political rights of the Yemenis but also wants to abolish their right to life as a whole.
Q: What about the talk about the importance of revamping the Party’s leadership at the central level? What does this require?
A: As I said, in the Islah Party, we are keen on institutional and democratic work, whether at the central or local level, but as everyone knows, conditions are not prepared at the present time to hold a General Conference that would have the right to elect a new central leadership, and this matter applies to all political parties. However, when these conditions are available, the Islah Party will be the first party to hold its general conference, as it did for the first time in 1994. However, the process of injecting new blood into the Party’s leadership is underway according to what is available under these circumstances.
Q: What about women and their position in the leadership ranks?
A: Islahi women play their pioneering role in various fields, and are present in all leadership institutions. In the elections for new leaders, they will obtain more positions and a growing role. This approach will continue based on our belief in their political and civil rights, their role as half of society, and their efforts that are no less than men.
Q: On more than one occasion, the Islah Party continued to stress the importance of returning political life to the liberated areas after the Houthi coup disrupted it, and the Party always urged activating the role of political parties... Is there coordination with the parties in this regard? What are the obstacles? How can they be overcome?
A: To overcome the challenges and obstacles that prevent this, this mission requires formal efforts by the Presidential Leadership Council, the government, the parties and the components. When the state and its institutions are present, the appropriate ground for political action will be prepared and then everyone can exercise their constitutionally and legally guaranteed right, and we hope that everyone will contribute to this matter.
Q: Does the Islah Party believe that it is possible to restore the state through efforts to achieve peace and political settlement with the Houthi militia?
A: All indicators and facts confirm that the Houthi militia - which arose on the basis of violence and racist ideology and spread through war, weapons, and terrorizing society - can only incline to peace by defeating it militarily. I personally believe that the Yemeni people realize this matter, but we, as part of the legitimacy, deal positively with all the efforts being made to bring about peace, and we are keen on the peace that achieves the will of our people in accordance with the three terms of reference in a way that ensures the dismantling of the militia, its disarmament, and the restoration of the state. For this purpose, legitimacy made major concessions out of concern for the Yemeni people. We hope that the Houthi militia will realize that its reckless adventures that destroyed the country and wasted blood will not achieve its ambitions, which contradict the ambitions and aspirations of our people. We also hope that regional changes will contribute to the success of international efforts to pressure the militia to abandon terrorism, and violence, adopt disastrous options, and submit to the will of the Yemeni people. Above all, the Houthi militia must stop its barbaric practices and actions against our people in the areas under its control, as well as it must stop practicing methods of brutality, abuse, intimidation and terrorizing society, plundering money and property, levies, systemized impoverishment, and introducing abnormal projects and entrenching them in Yemeni society that rejects them.
Q: What is the Islah Party’s view of the future of Yemen, the form of the state, and the realization of the hopes and aspirations of all the people of Yemen?
A: The Islah Party believes that national consensus is the first step toward the future, and this keen has been inherent to the Party since its founding and has never deviated from it. Today, we see that the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference represent the summary of the national consensus that the Houthi militia has turned against. These outcomes contain the foundations for building the state and resolving all issues. Any issue is resolved through dialogue and contact until the building of a state whose foundation is justice and equal citizenship is achieved, and whose foundations are republicanism, unity, democracy, and political pluralism. All of these represent the summary of the goals for which the national movement and the men, revolutionaries, and free men of Yemen fought.
Q: How is the performance of the Islah Party media evaluated? What word would you like to address to young people in general, and to those working in the field of journalism and media professionals and activists in particular?
A: There is no doubt that the Islah Party’s media constitutes the main pillar of the media front in the national battle. The Party had and still has firm principled positions in support of peace and rejection of war, and it was a pioneer in spreading the culture of peaceful struggle, rights, and freedoms. Undoubtedly, the political role of the Party will continue until the country returns to its normal state. On this occasion, I send my most cordial greetings to all media professionals, journalists, and activists affiliated with the Islah Party and all their comrades and colleagues who formed the National Media Front, which faced the arrogance and terrorism of the militia and paid a heavy tax.
Q: Do you have anything you would like to add at the end of this interview?
A: We beg Allah to have mercy on the nation’s martyrs who were martyred in the national battle, and we salute their families and all the wounded, abducted, and captured. We call on the official authorities to give them the attention and care they deserve. I also send my most cordial greetings to all the heroes of the army, security, and resistance who guard dignity, as well as salutes to the honorable people across the country, I salute all Islahis on the paths of struggle, and we congratulate their efforts.