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|Exclusive From Hashid: Interview with Sheikh Hussien Al-Ahmar|
Hakim Almasmari (YEMEN POST STAFF)
Article Date: November 26, 2007
Thousands of citizens demonstrated last week in Hashid demanding that corruption in Yemen comes to an end. The demonstrations were organized by MP Sheikh Hussein Al-Ahmar.
Ahmar is currently in Hashid where he is gathering support in his pledge for a revolution against corruption and oppression. The Yemen Post exclusively met with Ahmar in his home in Hashid.
Yemen Post: Explain the reasons why you suddenly involved the Hashid tribe in the political arena?
Ahmar: It was not sudden, Hashid is the biggest tribe in Yemen, and its existence in the political arena is not a surprise to anyone. However, it comes as Yemen is facing many obstacles and people are fed up with what is happening. Every day prices seem to increase while salary and wages stay the same. People felt that they needed to protest and show the government that they had enough and too much pressure is being put on them to improve their living standard.
Also like most Yemeni’s, I have my comments on the government and want to see change and corruption fought. Being a Yemeni citizen gives me the right to protest the matters that I feel are going wrong. People have had enough and their living standard has deteriorated month by month. What we did last week was a joint achievement from different cities coming for the same cause, which is to demand that corruption be fought immediately.
I want to make it clear that this will not be our last demonstrations and we will continue to demonstrate when needed. Why in Hashid? This is because I am from Hashid, and I have always been loyal to them and continue to loyal.
YP: Some consider what you are doing is against the unity of Yemen, and are encouraging parties and sides to go against the government, which might cause huge damage to the unity of Yemen?
Ahmar: The government is the one that is acting against the unity of the country with its wrong policies that it follows. It is not wrong to stand against corruption, and it is the duty of all citizens, whether from the north or south to demand a free and democratic country.
YP: Your father has not been in the political picture the last couple of weeks; does he agree with the way you are dealing with the government?
Ahmar: My father is not against what I did at all.
YP: Abdullah Ahmar Charitable Association that you started last week, and vowed to pay YR 10 million monthly towards; people say your goal of establishing it was to compete with Al-Saleh Foundation, which was launched by President Saleh.
Ahmar: First of all, Ahmar Charitable Association is only in Hashid to begin with, and not throughout the country. We will start to support the people closest to us and from there to gradually grow and spread to different parts of the country.
I believe that charity work should not be looked at as politics, but rather as helping those needy.
YP: Then why in Hashid and not in the south or another part of the country, aren’t they all Yemeni’s?
Ahmar: Yes I agree with you totally, but as I said I want to start with those closest to you, and gradually grow from there.
YP: A number of government officials claim that you are directly funded by Saudi Arabia, is that true?
Ahmar: They can say what they want. Everyday they have something new to say. In no way are we supported by Saudi or are we given any fund or support. Yes we do have good relations with Saudi, and we will use or good relations with them for the benefit of our country.
YP: We understood that you were not allowed to enter the capital Sana’a and that is why you have decided to stay in Khamir.
Ahmar: No, I am free to go where I want and whenever I want. In the last couple of weeks that government was trying to cause problems with us in its unwise stance. Most likely I will be going back to Sana’a next week, or as soon as I complete y tasks here in Khamir. Whether is Sana’a or Khamir, we are still at home, and there is no difference at all.
YP: Can you strongly and openly say that the President is corrupt?
Ahmar: I don’t have to say anything for I am only a person and have my own opinion on matters like everyone else, but I think that foreign organizations have made that clear in their reports that are published.
Also, our situation in Yemen is clear, and the current circumstances talk for themselves. We can not say that corruption is from the president, but all state institutions are corrupt. Can you name us one institution that is free from corruption in the country?
YP: That is what I want you to tell me, and I am the one who is conducting the interview.
Ahmar: Everyone will run away from the answer like you did, and that proves that all governmental institutions are corrupt. We as citizens need to find solutions for our problems and not run away from them.
YP: Do you still consider yourself a member of the GPC Ruling Party in Yemen?
Ahmar: Yes I do, and I can not decline that I am a member of the ruling party. When I first decided to enter the political arena as a GPC representative, I knew completely that they had their faults and negative aspects. However, I believe that instead of avoiding them, I deicide to enter with them and try to change the party from the inside. A number of officials in the party make it difficult for us to work with complete transparency, but avoiding the party and letting them do as they like will only make it worse. That is why I decided to join the party.
In the end, my goal is to do what is best for the people and not the party I am affiliated with.
YP: What are the biggest corruption points you have against the ruling party?
Ahmar: There are a large number of points, some of which are the low salaries that people earn monthly, the misuse of oil among others. With all the oil we have in Yemen, people should be living a prosperous life, instead of a life full with insecurity and poverty.
The judicial system is the most corrupt and not independent not transparent. Our educational system is one of the lowest internationally. I think the question you should be asking me is what is not corrupt in the government.
YP: The government is trying to fight corruption and that is why the established the Anti Corruption Committee.
Ahmar; The Anti Corruption Committee is a good step forward if it was used appropriately. The committee has limited powers and they know that. There are red lines they cannot cross. I have full respect for the members of the committee, but this is the truth, and they should understand that is they cannot fulfill their duties towards the people they should not trick them.
Tell the Anti Corruption Committee to investigate where the oil and wealth of the country is going, instead of following small problems.
YP: What is your next step?
Ahmar: Soon, we will join all members of society in our plight to fight corruption in Yemen. We will join professors, politicians, activists, civil societies, intellectuals, and are members of society as we stand together to change our country to the better. This is the next step for all Yemenis and not only me. We all want a peaceful, prosperous, united, and strong country.
YP: Do you have final comments?
Ahmar: I ask the government to let all intuitions work freely and transparently. Not to interfere in the matters if the law and the judicial system. Work for the benefit of the people and not for yourselves. Help spread democracy instead of harming it. In the end the goal of the government should be to follow the constitution which benefits the people and not ignore it by following its own desires.