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Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Eryani, President Saleh’s Advisor on Political Affairs:

“I have been asked about this and my answer is always that the Iranian regime is like an octopus with many fingers and huge wealth of money spent in accordance to the regime’s wishes and beliefs. However, I can’t say that the Iranian government instructed the Houthis. However, Iranian media is pro-Houthi.”

  Interviewed By: Al-Hurra News Station
  Article Date:
September 15, 2008



Al-Hurra News Station: The Virtue Protection Authority, some people ask why now?

Abdul Karim Al-Eryani: Let me ask the same question. Why now, why do they want it in the future and why was it not in the past? I think that authority of such a type has no basis in law.

HNS: You are President Saleh's advisor on political affairs and some say that Saleh himself is behind the idea and he directly or indirectly supports it?

AE: I don't know for sure if the president is behind such a matter. Some people say so. From my close personal experience, I have never known or heard that he is behind this movement.

HNS: Regarding clashes with Houthis, have you reached an actual end for this conflict?

AE: Actually, there are no clashes right now and there is a government committee in Sa'ada tasked with assessing war damages and preparing for reconstructing and developing the province. I have hope that the recent war was the last one. They are offering lip services to the republican system. Abdul Malik Al-Houthi's power is concentrated in Sa'ada and among his followers who consider him to be Imam and not a rebel.

HNS: You described Houthis in 2005 as a devilish plant that was watered by from outside the Yemeni history stream … do you point to a foreign side to support this group?

AE: Undoubtedly, this group could not own such amounts of money without foreign support. Sa'ada is ranked among the poorest provinces in Yemen and Yemen is among the poorest countries in the Arab world, while they {Houthis} have immense resources.

HNS:  From where?

AE: I can’t specify.

HNS: What about Iran?

AE: I have been asked about this and my answer is always that the Iranian regime is like an octopus with many fingers and huge wealth of money spent in accordance to the regime's wishes and beliefs. However, I can't say that the Iranian government instructed the Houthis. However, Iranian media is pro-Houthi.

HNS: Away from the foreign hand which is always present in the Arab world's problems, can't we say that injustice, suppression and political and economic inequality towards Houthis are reasons for the emergence of such factions?

AE: First, speaking of injustice, sidelining or discrimination within the republican system is unfair. The basis for problems across the country is poverty. The individual per capita does not exceed $600 per year. The issue is not that of suppression, freedoms restriction or intentional marginalization of a certain faction, but rather it is that of poverty, population growth and shortage of resources.

HNS: Some Arab intellectuals say that the International Criminal Court's (ICC) indictment of the Sudanese president helped reform some internal problems. Is there any fear in Yemen that ICC might indict leaders like President Saleh?

AE: The matter does not reach that limit. Darfur issue is a living one and it dates back to a long time ago. Darfur is an immense social and economic problem and what happened in Sa'ada can not be compared in any way with what is happening in Darfur.

HNS: The political regimes in the region do not move only with external pressures… Will there be any hope of internal reforms?

AE: Reforms in Yemen are of two sections. The first one is the political, constitutional and democratic reform and this was not enforced by external parties. The Yemeni unity and its constitution were based on democracy, multiparty, free elections, human rights and freedom of expression. The second one is economic and surely Yemen was incapable of protecting its national economy against a complete collapse in 1995 without the assistance rendered by external parties and institutions.

HNS: So political stability is a key condition for economic growth; are you satisfied that clashes with Houthis have ended and what guarantees the non-renewal of this war in the future?

AE: Ask Houthis. For the official side, I assure you my complete wish for ending the conflict forever, but I don’t know their intentions.

HNS: Let's move to Southern Yemen issue. A report by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Saleh Basurah and directed to President Saleh stated that {addressing Saleh} you have the option to either defend the country or defend the 15 influential people who looted the lands in the South; is it right?

AE: I am not familiar with the report. The matter should not be expressed this way (pillaging Southern lands), because it is not a plot. There could be misconduct and pillage of lands; however, I have not read about this.

HNS: We read a lot about the resentment of southern people and their feelings of being sidelined; do you deny that some southern voices enquire about unity's reality, equality in wealth and posts distribution? 

AE: I can't deny this and I can't approve the form in which these issues are raised. You know these enquiries are put forward by people who lost their interests or those who return back from outside the country. They are still dreaming of returning to power. About resentment, I tell you to go to Taiz or Ibb and you will find a lot of bitterness and growling.

HNS: Will Haidar Al-Attas be imprisoned if he decides to return?

AE: Never. He has been contacted several times by President Saleh asking him to return. A general amnesty issued during the battles with secessionists. Later, the rulings against the 16 people who led the secession were canceled too.

HNS: Will he play a political role if he returns to Yemen?

AE: I don't know and it is not me who decides on such a matter. Some of those who returned have played political roles.

HNS: There has been no resolution about Vice-president Post?

AE: First, he is not elected. The president is the one who is elected. After being elected, he issued a republican decree appointing Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi as vice-president. 

HNS: The constitution demands that Vice-president should be from Southern provinces?

AE: This is not a condition. Frankly, anyone ruling Yemen should not forget history and the South was a separate and independent state some 18 years ago. Overlooking South's personalities is a gross mistake. Thus, certain posts should be assumed by people from the South.

HNS: Do you fear clashing with Al-Qaeda or their strong presence in the country?

AE: None can claim that he got rid of Al-Qaeda; however, in most cases, the perpetrators are arrested. Al-Qaeda seems to be unwilling to reconcile with any Islamic or Arabic regime, they want to rule. 

HNS: Do you expect that Yemen’s next president will be Saleh's son Ahmed?

AE: No one thousand times. Being the president's son does not mean that he must succeed the president. Yemen is a democracy.

HNS: But Saleh himself did not deny such a possibility?

AE: The president said that he is a Yemeni citizen and if selected by people he has the right to nominate himself. Once he wins, he has the right to be the next president. 

HNS: Do you mean that Yemeni people will not elect him or there is no tendency for that?

AE: There is absolutely no such tendency and President Saleh in an interview advised him not to nominate himself for the presidency post saying that "ruling Yemen is like dancing over snakes' heads".

HNS: Do you expect that Saleh will run for presidency in the forthcoming elections?

AE: Constitutionally he is not allowed.