Advisor to Yemen’s President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, does not often speak to the media, but when he does, he does so with frankness and objectivity.
Alimi first spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat some seven months ago in an exclusive interview. He is doing so again to discuss the stalemate in the Yemeni crisis and efforts by the United Nations envoy to push peace talks forward. He also hailed the landmark Riyadh agreement that was signed last year and the role Yemeni parties can play in the future of their country.
Alimi is the head of the largest coalition of political parties and forces in Yemen. He said that the Saudi-sponsored Riyadh agreement helped “set things straight” in Yemen and acted as a sort of reevaluation of the legitimate forces and Arab coalition alike.
Most significantly, it united ranks against the Iran-backed Houthi militias and their coup in Yemen, he stressed.
The Yemeni parties, he continued, represent the national aspect of the constitutional legitimacy. Their agreement among each other ultimately brought Hadi to power and they therefore play a “decisive” role in the country.
Disputes, however, still persist between them, most notably between the Islah and General People’s Congress.
Alimi said: “Political conflicts in Yemen have long been severe and occasionally violent. Despite this, political forces have always sought to safeguard the state and institutions because they in turn protect all Yemenis.”
The Islah and GPC had often forged alliances in the past, but the severe dispute in 2011 left a negative impact in their relations, he remarked. “Unfortunately, some party officials have still not let go of the past in favor of the higher national interest.”
“I still believe, however, that the parties within the national alliance are now, more than ever, aware of the importance of setting aside their disputes,” he added. “They realized the need for them to unite for the sake of the state.”
“Parties play a primarily political role, but after the collapse of the state, they have been replaced with guns,” he lamented. “The collapse of legitimacy will lead to chaos and violence, the emergence of terrorist and extremist groups and spread of ignorance, poverty and diseases.”
Asked about the main hurdle impeding the unity of Yemeni parties, Alimi said the national alliance is comprised of 17 parties. They all back the legitimacy and Arab coalition in order to restore the state and security and stability in Yemen.
“We are however, being targeted by several local, regional and international forces,” he stressed. “Attempts have been made to lure political powers to pursue regional or international goals, but the awareness of party leaderships and their realization of the dangers lurking around Yemen and the region have thwarted such efforts.”
On the recent crisis in the interim capital, Aden, Alimi noted that the absence of the legitimate government and the instability in the city were among the main obstacles hindering the return of security and stability in regions that were liberated from the Houthis.
Commenting on the situation in the port city of Hodeidah, he said several opportunities had been available to restore peace. He cited consultations in Kuwait and the Stockholm agreement that was reached in December 2018.
The latter included several confidence-building elements or what UN envoy Martin Griffiths called a partial solution, he went on to say. “We appreciate Griffiths’ efforts, but the Stockholm deal came across a major stumbling block called the Houthis and their stubbornness, which the envoy is in vain trying to change.”