Yemen PM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Griffiths Has Made Some Right, Some Wrong Decisions

Friday, 7 September, 2018 - 07:00
London - Badr al-Qahtani

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said that the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, had presented some right ideas to resolve the crisis, but “made mistakes in others.”

While he expressed appreciation for Griffiths’ efforts to find solutions to the crisis, he noted that the peace process in his country was complex, and depended on the implementation of the three basic references, including the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanism, the outcome of national dialogue and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular, UNSCR 2216.

In an extended interview with Asharq Al-Awsat through the e-mail, Bin Daghr first underlined his government’s high appreciation to Saudi Arabia for its “brotherly stances towards the Yemeni people.”

He stressed his full support to all decisions made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, for the interests of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and also highly valued the positions of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Asked whether his government would present further concessions in return for the success of the UN-sponsored negotiations, Bin Daghr said: “We are going to the consultations with the Houthis under the auspices of the United Nations and we will seek peace because it is the hope of the Yemeni people.”

“We will seek peace if the Houthis accept the three references, including the Gulf initiative and its implementation mechanism, the outcomes of the national dialogue and the relevant Security Council resolutions, mainly Resolution 2216. The aggressor of the state and those, who have killed people and destroyed Yemen, should be the ones to make compromises to the elected legitimacy,” he stressed.

Commenting on the recent proposals submitted by Griffiths about a solution to the Yemeni crisis, the prime minister said: “The UN envoy tried to present ideas… some of which were right while others were wrong. We appreciate his continued efforts to find solutions, but the peace process in Yemen is a complex issue and reaching it should begin and end with the implementation of the three references.”

In this regard, Bin Daghr noted that Griffiths wanted a partial solution in Hodeidah and that he told the UN envoy that partial solutions would not succeed if they were not associated with “permanent, comprehensive and just solutions” to the crisis.

“He wanted a truce, and we told him that we could not accept that unless the Houthis accepted military and security measures ahead of political solutions,” he affirmed.

Asked whether the Yemeni government would accept any initiative for an eighth truce along with confidence-building measures, Bin Daghr stated: “We have given the Houthis many opportunities, many truces. They have always been asking for a truce and when they were getting it, they used it to strengthen their positions on the fronts and to obtain weapons and ammunition.”

On the meaning of the three references, he said: “They mean a just, comprehensive and lasting solution. They mean peace based on respect for the will of the Yemeni people… Peace in the region. They also mean respect for international conventions, laws and treaties that respect the right of peoples to choose their way of governance. Finally, they mean the future. The future that defines a fundamental issue, which is the form and content of the State that is agreed upon by the majority of citizens.”

On the role of international relief organizations, Bin Daghr highlighted the presence of “discrimination” towards the Yemeni population.

“We have often complained to UN officials about their offices operating in Yemen. There was discrimination in treatment. While all United Nations organizations established offices in Sanaa, they were reluctant to establish offices in the capital Aden,” he noted.

He continued: “Some members of these organizations were biased to the Houthi aggressors. However, most of these organizations have changed their plans since the beginning of last year, and they have been found in liberated areas, albeit in different proportions, sizes and tasks. They have performed great humanitarian work, and their efforts are improving gradually.”

When asked to describe the performance of the legitimate government in liberated areas, the prime minister stressed that one of the main challenges facing those areas was the security situation.

He explained: “In parallel with facing the Houthis, we are fighting a war against al-Qaeda, ISIS and criminal gangs that practice looting, robbery and violence. The security issue in the interim capital of Aden and the liberated provinces is a priority, then the provision of services and salaries. We have succeeded in comparison to our limited capabilities, despite strong opposition, financially and militarily funded incitement and the absence of strategies that guide our joint action.”

On the economic level, Bin Daghr underlined a series of recent measures taken by the legitimate government to face conspiracies by the Houthis.

“We have taken a number of general measures, the results of which in the past two days have been the devaluation of the dollar from 670 riyals to 580, which means a significant improvement in the Yemeni riyal, and I think it will improve in the coming days,” he stated.

He emphasized that his government would work to improve and increase the production of oil and gas, develop important resources such as taxes and customs, and prosecute smugglers, in addition to other measures that would restore the value of the riyal.

Asked about the government’s reconstruction priorities, Bin Daghr said that those included, at the present time, health, education, roads, electricity, water, hygiene and communications.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports construction and reconstruction works within a successful program sponsored by the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Yemen Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al Jaber. These efforts are added to the great work achieved by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action, headed by Dr. Abdullah Al Rabiah,” he said.

On whether the legitimate government believed that a military solution would be more effective under the pessimism surrounding the political consultations, the Yemeni premier reiterated his commitment to the three basic references, stressing that the ongoing war was imposed by the Houthis, who violated the legitimacy and harmed the population.

“This is a war of necessity not only for us, but for our brothers in the Kingdom, the Gulf States, and the Arab countries. The Arabs have all sensed the seriousness of the situation in Yemen and the blatant Iranian interference in our country,” he said.

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