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Yemen PM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Battle of Liberation Will Not Stop

Yemen PM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Battle of Liberation Will Not Stop

Wednesday, 19 January, 2022 - 07:15
Yemen's Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik speaks during a ceremony of the delivery of cranes as a grant from Saudi Arabia to the Aden port, Yemen December 12, 2018. (Reuters)

Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik warned that keeping the capital Sanaa under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi militias will make it a platform for constant terrorist threats.


In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he called for a new phase of unity and cooperation between Yemeni powers so that they can defeat the Iranian agenda in their country.


Commenting on the recent field gains by the government forces against the Houthis, the PM said it was due to their renewed unity and the support of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.


"The developments on the ground have changed the balance of power," he remarked, referring to the government's liberation of the Shabwah province last week.


The Giants Brigades have moved on to liberate more strategic districts.


All of these developments will pave the way for a new phase in Yemen and put an end to the division between its powers, said the premier.


The Giants Brigades have played a "decisive" role in liberating Shabwah, he stressed. The Shabwah districts were liberated within ten days, evidence of their unity and level of organization.


"Yes, uniting ranks is important, but reaching the same views between all parties is not the priority today. Everyone is, however, united against the Houthis. We need everyone to joint the same battle. There is room in the nation and state for everyone, whether the members of government, parties of the Riyadh Agreement or those not included in it," he said.


On the Arab coalition's declaration last week of the launch of an operation to liberate the whole of Yemen from the Houthis, Abdulmalik said: "The role played by the coalition and United Arab Emirates was important. This role is pivotal and decisive in restoring Yemen to its Arab fold."


He said the Houthis are seeking to take Yemen away from its Arab surroundings and transform it into a platform to threaten international peace and security.


"This is not Yemen. Yemen is a source of Arabism. Therefore, the coalition's declaration of the new operation gives hope to the Yemenis and new momentum in the country," he told Asharq Al-Awsat.


The liberation of Shabwah and the government advances in the Marib province have given great hope to the people that the war will soon come to an end.


Asked whether he believes the operations will reach Sanaa, Abdulmalik said: "There is no doubt that liberating Yemen - the whole of Yemen - from these militias is our goal."


"We have previously stated that if the Houthis return to thinking like the Yemeni people, then perhaps they can sit with everyone else on the same table. However, as long as Sanaa remains under their control, then it will always be a source of threat," he added.


"The Yemeni people are suffering in regions held by the Houthis, especially Sanaa. Sanaa is no longer the Sanaa that we used to know. It used to be one of the main Arab cities. The goal today is to liberate every inch and for the Houthis to return to thinking like Yemenis and shed the influence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards," he continued.


"Once the Houthis return to their senses, then the first steps towards reaching peace understandings can be taken," he stressed.


Addressing media reports that preparations are underway to liberate the Taiz and Hodeidah provinces, Abdulmalik said: "Preparations will be made for every region under Houthi control. I will not speak of the military aspects of what the priorities are at the fronts. That will be revealed in the coming days."


Asked to comment on the Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi on Monday, he replied: "It again proves the extent to which the Houthis are tied to the Iranian regime and its destructive project in Yemen and the region."


The regime, he continued is seeking to "use Yemen as a platform to destabilize the region and target vital interests in neighboring countries and international marine trade routes."


This danger "underscores the priority to liberate all Yemeni territories from the terrorist militias that have aborted all peace opportunities. These crimes will not discourage the government and Arab coalition from forging ahead in completing the liberation of the state and ending the coup," he added.


"The international community, especially the United Nations Security Council, must take a firm stance against these crimes and the Houthi militias," he urged.


Commenting on the fate of the Stockholm Agreement on Hodeidah in wake of the recent developments, the PM said the successive events have rendered it "practically clinically dead".


He noted, however, that there were differences from the start over how to implement the agreement. A different approach should have been adopted, but it doesn't matter now since the deal is "almost dead".


Instead, authorities should have looked at ways to remove all weapons from Hodeidah city. An agreement should have been reached over the military and civilian leaderships outside Houthi control, he suggested. This would have allowed Hodeidah to remain an effective port.


None of this happened and the ensuing developments allowed the Houthis to take control of the city, leading to the collapse of the Stockholm Agreement, Abdulmalik said.


Commenting on the efforts of the US and UN envoys to reach peace in Yemen, the prime minister said: "This is not about the envoys. It is about the desire to achieve peace."


"The Houthis have thwarted the role of all envoys. If you were to bring in the best envoy in the world, he will not achieve anything if his calls for peace fall on deaf ears," he said.


The Houthis do not want peace. "The use of firm rhetoric will change their minds," stated the PM.


Abdulmalik noted that the international community is keen on seeing peace restored in Yemen and it has been pushing to reach that goal. The Houthis, however, have rejected all calls for a ceasefire, including the Riyadh initiative and several others proposed by the government.


"It is now time for a firmer course of action so that progress can be made towards peace," he demanded.


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