Yemeni Prime Minister Dr. Moeen Abdul Malik said there were no contacts between his government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), but stressed that he was seeking to improve the political environment through democratic practices.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdul Malik said he appreciated the role assumed by a number of STC leaders and the forces of the southern and national resistance in defeating Houthi militias.
“We are open to all forces and realize the importance of aligning them in the face of the Iranian project in Yemen, in order to reach understandings to maintain the country’s integrity and respect for the laws,” he noted.
Abdul Malik emphasized that his task was “very sensitive” in light of the current situation in Yemen.
“But I tend to describe the task as a national necessity that does not tolerate inaction or retreat, as our country and people are facing the dangers of tyranny, violence and extremism,” he remarked.
As for his government’s relation with the Southern Transitional Council, the Yemeni premier said: “The government acts as an umbrella for all, in conformity with laws and freedoms; it therefore has no problem with the peaceful exercise of political action and seeks to improve the political working environment governed by the tools of democratic action.”
“There are currently no direct contacts with the Transitional Council and we can only appreciate the roles played by a number of the Council’s leaders and the forces of the southern and national resistance in fighting and defeating the Houthi militia,” he underlined.
Asked about his opinion on the Saudi reconstruction project for Yemen, in his former capacity of minister of Public Works, Abdul Malik stressed that the reconstruction and development program played an important and influential role in efforts to improve economic conditions and provide services to large segments of Yemenis, directly reaching people’s lives.
“It is important to note the great efforts and constructive and active role of the Kingdom’s ambassador to Yemen, Mohamed Al Jaber, in the management of the program and the implementation of its policies,” he added.
On whether he would lead any government delegation to future peace consultations, the Yemeni premier noted that the government gave special attention to the peace file and worked towards reaching a lasting peace.
“Therefore, political negotiations are managed directly by the president and the prime minister. We have a negotiating team that performs its functions with great skill and excellence. We are based on a unified vision of Yemen’s political leadership,” he stated.
Commenting on recent statements by UN Envoy Martin Griffiths, who said that a solution to the Yemeni crisis would be reached by the end of this year, Abdul Malik said that the obstacle to achieving a lasting peace in Yemen was linked to “the practices of the Houthi rebellion forces and the implementation of Iran’s schemes to provoke chaos and target the security of Yemen, the region and international shipping lines.”
He reiterated that the government was keen to achieve peace as soon as possible in accordance with the three references.
“Although there are many doubts about the seriousness of Houthis and their willingness to abide by the peace agreements and the resolutions of international legitimacy, we will work openly with the United Nations and the international community to facilitate the mission of the envoy to achieve a lasting peace,” the Yemeni prime minister emphasized.
He went on to say that his government was ready to make concessions for peace, as long as they did not violate the three references, the resolutions of international legitimacy and Yemen’s sovereignty.
In response to accusations by the Houthis that the government was not disbursing the salaries of state employees, Abdul Malik said that his government was paying the salaries of more than 63 percent of public sector employees in the country, including 81,000 employees living in areas controlled by the Houthis.
He added that the government regularly paid pensions to retirees in all regions, as part of its plan to cover the salaries of all employees in conjunction with the improvement of state resources and despite the looting of the Houthis of all revenues and resources in areas under their control.
The government is also trying to cover the deficit in the budget of salaries and wages “through agreements with brotherly countries and the international community,” according to the premier.
Away from politics, Abdul Malik commented on his recent visit to Neom – Saudi Arabia’s city of the future.
“We found it a working cell in a unique place and wonderful nature. We found it a project of the era that offers a different vision of investment for the region,” he remarked. “We expect it to be a pioneering model reflecting its economic benefits not only on the Kingdom, Egypt and Jordan, but on the region as a whole.”
The premier continued: “The ability to imagine the future and transform visions into plans and projects is what distinguishes men of history and paves the way for evolution in human civilization.”
On his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the premier said discussions focused on the situation in Yemen, the means to boost collaboration and cooperation, in addition to the government’s ability to carry out its duties and overcome the repercussions of the coup and the war waged by the militias.
“We also agreed to develop communication mechanisms and promote joint action between the Kingdom and the government of Yemen,” he noted.