Yemeni Congregation for Reform to Asharq Al-Awsat: Rivals Irked by Our Ties with Saudi Arabia
Yemeni Congregation for Reform spokesman Adnan al-Odainy stressed that his party has no organizational or political ties with the international Muslim Brotherhood.
The Reform, he told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview, is a political party with national priorities. All of its efforts with its partners are aimed at helping Yemen end its current plight and restore its state.
Moreover, he said that politics in Yemen may be very complex and positions may be vague, but the Reform has always been clear in immediately supporting Operation Decisive Storm as soon as it was announced.
‘Qatar support Houthis’
On relations with Qatar, Odainy said: “At first, they were guided by national interest, when it was still part of the Arab coalition and one of its supporters. It then turned into a backer of the Houthi militias in wake of the Gulf crisis.”
“Our foreign positions are bound to the Yemeni people’s higher national interests,” he declared. “It is very unfortunate that those making claims against us are the same sides that for years had accused the Reform of having strong relations with Saudi Arabia.” He recalled the strong campaign against the Reform after it had announced its support for Operation Decisive Storm. “We were the only Yemeni party that was able to issue a statement that welcomes this intervention.”
Odainy said that critics of the Reform’s relations with Saudi Arabia are bothered by this relationship. “They are therefore, fabricating lies that are dashed by the sacrifices the Reform is making for the sake of restoring the state. Our position is based on convictions and strategic principles as a strictly Yemeni party. Our foreign relations are bound by these principles. We have nothing to hide,” he stressed.
The Reform party has achieved in 30 years many of the goals in its political agenda, he went on to say. “It is among the few parties in the Arab region to have been part of power and later removed from it through peaceful elections. This is in contrast to Arab republics, which, unfortunately, have since their inception been ruled by coups instead of elections,” Odainy added.
The Reform has been recently focusing on restoring the state and defeating the Iran-backed Houthi coup and “its efforts to drag Yemen away from its Arab and Islamic fold.” He slammed the Houthis for introducing sectarian concepts that are alien to Yemeni society. He accused them of sowing sedition among the people along ethnic and sectarian lines. They have sought to incite people against each other, ideologically, culturally and academically.
“It is as if they are saying that the main enemy is a free democratic Yemen,” he remarked. He also accused the Houthis of inciting the Yemenis against Saudi Arabia, despite their historic relations, in favor of furthering Iran’s expansionist agenda in the region that aims to destroy Arab and Islamic unity.
The Reform is among the main social and political elements of Yemen, continued Odainy. The party may have its problems, but the main challenge lies in the Houthi coup, which was staged on September 21, 2014. “This is our great calamity.”
“The Reform may have been one of the parties most affected by the coup,” he opined. “We perhaps paid the price for our clear national position and social presence, which is due to the people’s trust in us. The Reform has found itself morally bound to the people during this critical phase. We have decided to pay the price, no matter how high. Perhaps this is what prompted the Houthis to target us. They perhaps see us as the main obstacle to their backwards sectarian project.”
He said that among the challenges the Reform encountered was how to regroup political partners in order to pursue the restoration of the state. He stressed that the party believes in comprehensive political work in determining the fate of the country.
Relations with Saudi Arabia
“Since its formation, the Reform was the only party whose founding system included an article that underlines the importance of bolstering relations between Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” Odainy told Asharq Al-Awsat. This stems from the nature of the extraordinary relations between Yemen and Saudi Arabia and reflects just how intertwined their relations are. “The relationship between our party and people with Saudi Arabia is more historic, deep-rooted and firm than any other.” They are connected by national, Islamic and geopolitical ties, he said.
“The party supports all efforts aimed at boosting relations with Saudi Arabia. We are seeking wider ties,” he added.
Some media have claimed that the Reform party had sent fighters to fight abroad, such as in Libya. Odainy said that such allegations are “shocking” to the party, stating the reports are based on misleading sources.
“We, as a political party, work according to the constitution and law. Our identity is purely civilian. We are not a mercenary company or war contractors, who boast fighters and weapons to send to this country or that,” he said. Claims of the contrary only serve to tarnish the party’s political identity.
“The party has not possessed a single rifle since it was formed. For the millionth time, we are saying that we are a political party. Politics does not demand rifles. There is no need for weapons when politics is being practiced,” he stated. “Only those who have failed politically resort to arms.”