Ahmed Saif Hashed to the Yemen Times: “The future will reveal who stands by the side of people and who seeks authority.”
Ahmed Saif Hashed is an independent parliamentarian and the head of the Save Revolution Front, a group that effectively and noticeably participated in the 2011 political uprising.
Hashed is a controversial figure, who openly criticizes opposing political affiliates, especially the Islamic Islah Party.
In an interview with the Yemen Times, Hashed discussed several political issues currently facing the country.
To start, why does the Save the Revolution Front organize protests?
Actually, we feel that the revolution started to deviate from the right way because some people attempted to make it meaningless. This set the revolution up for danger, and consequently we have tried to regain its spirit.
Most of the revolution’s aims weren’t achieved due to the political compromise so we will continue our sit-ins in change squares to resist this compromise.
Some say that the Save the Revolution Front was established through external support?
That isn’t true because we only count on our people. Some people accuse us of treason,but this won’t make us stop the work we started. We will continue our way and allow time to prove who supports the revolution and who opposes it.
We depend on the people’s trust and stand by their side and not by the side of regional powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, that want us to be part of them.
Do you think that the General People’s Congress (GPC) and the Joint Meeting Parties (JMPs) opposed the revolution because they signed the Gulf Initiative?
I think they wanted to implement their agendas through the revolution and to continue holding the rein of the revolution. Some political parties attempted to control the revolution, but eventually they obeyed the Gulf Initiative because of their mutual interests with Saudi Arabia.
You always criticize Saudi Arabia, but it is said, that you are loyal to Iran?
This is false, and there is no evidence to prove it. What is true, is Saudi Arabia provides huge sums of money for Sheikhs and influential political figures. Also there is the Special Committee. The names of those people were published in Al-Sharea’s newspaper. The general prosecutor was supposed to investigate them.
Money was provided for some political parties and some tribal figures admitted receiving money from Saudi Arabia but because of the clear Saudi influence that dominates all state operations, they can’t be investigated.
So, you opposed the Gulf Initiative and organizing protests “ the government just to spite Saudi Arabia?
No we aren’t retaliating, but we feel that Saudi Arabia’s political containment affected the September 1962 Revolution, and now it attempts to affect this revolution by sharing power between political parties.
The Revolutionary Civil Alliance, a component of the Save the Revolution Front, presented a vision for a technocrat government, but it was rejected because this government will work on constructing a civil state based on integrity and justice.
If you were you a minister in this government, would you have organized the same activities “ the government?
The future will reveal who stands by the side of people and who seeks authority. I always stand by the side of people and even when I was supported by the GPC and the Socialist Party in Parliament, I didn’t stand by their side.
What are the most important revolutionary fractions that backed the Save the Revolution Front?
There are 51 revolutionary and youth fractions in Taiz, Aden and other governorates, and they are working to sustain their presence [so they can] support the people.
Some say the Front is funded by the Houthis since they opposed the [political] compromise in Yemen?
These are untrue claims. The Front is composed of multiple components.
Including the Houthis?
No, the Houthis aren’t members in the Front.
What has the Front done so far?
It is enough that we didn’t join or follow anyone. We focus on the deficits and stand by the side of the people, but what is currently going on leads only to an impasse.
What are the most prominent activities the Front [has organized] because we only know about the protests?
We hold press conferences, workshops and protests and in the near future we will have more activities. Some of the protests we staged put pressure [on those in power] to achieve certain things. For instance, we staged a protest in Aden to demand terminating the contract with Dubai Ports International Company.
Though some politicians deemed it impossible to cancel, it was possible by virtue of the efforts of Dr. Waad Badeeb, the Transportation Minister. Now Aden’s port is controlled by Yemenis.
But who was responsible for the attack you experienced during this protest?
Unfortunately,the attackers are affiliatedwith the Southern Movement (Hirak), and I believe they defamed Hirak, as well as the Southern issue. The leaders of Hirak didn’t even condemn the attack.
We struggled to regain control of Aden’s port and to eliminate the corruption there - to pass on a message that it was a source of incomefor the people who suppressed the protests,but we were surprised that Hirak opposed it. We also offered to stage protests that demanded good electricity and water services. In general, we don’t oppose Hirak and deem the Southern issue fair.
Some state that Ahmed SaifHashed disapproves of the government, the Southern Movement and the Islah Party. Why is this so?
I have my own perspective. I may agree with you on an issue and disagree with you on another. It is possible to side with the Southern Movement because it is a fair issue and a popular movement that stands for the demands of people. However, I am against the culture of hate and racism that distorts the awareness of the people in the South. It is also possible to say Sa’ada was subject to six wars, though some say I support the Houthis. It is difficult to please all. Anyway, we may agree or disagree depending on the issue.
How do you evaluate the Save the Revolution Front, a front that aims to save the South from further deterioration?
The front adopted documents that were already adopted by the Change Organization for Rights and Freedoms in Beirut. There were outcomes of such documents including giving the Southerners what they wanted. What the Southerners want should be implemented.
Thus far,are these legal demands?
The Southerners have the right to decide what suits them.
Will you side with them in case they decide to secede?
This is their business. Personally, I am a politician that thinks there are possible and impossible things. Also, as a human rights activist, I think people have theright to determine the appropriate thing. Politically, federalism is possible. Secession is a legitimate right that is still overwhelmed with colossal dangers that could lead to further complications and polarization.
You said separation could pose dangers. Do the secessionists not heed such dangers?
The wrong government practices in Sana’a and other political powers, particularly the Islah Party, left people intimidated and convinced them that separation is the best alternative.
What makes the Islah Party afraid of secession?
Many figures in the Islah Party have huge interests in the South. There were lands hijacked following 1994 War. Some people became billionaires. These people do realize that there will be a collision between secession and their interests. Thus, the situation has reached the point of confrontation between the Islah Party and the Southern Movement supporters.
It has been reported that there are some groups in the South funded by Saudi Arabia and others by Iran. In your opinion, why are there many different factions and interests in the South?
It can be hailed a leadership crisis. There are internal political powers that have an impact on the Southern scene. I am against treason. People have the right to consider their interests and receive aid to support their issue. This is not the problem. The problem is relevant to the leadership.
In case this situation goes on unchanged, will the Southerners receive their demands?
I earlier said the Southern issue is a fair one, but there are some who attempt to distort it.
As a political and human rights activist, [do you believe] the Southern secessionists are larger in number than the proponents of unity?
Many bad practices have incited the Southerners to call for secessionism. Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ahmer, who headed the conference of Yemeni Tribes Alliances, told the Southerners to yield to the dialogue or go to war. Such talk of war makes others uncertain of a safe future. Therefore, the tendency of Southerners to secede is on the rise.
Some say the former regime is the reason behind the recent calls for secession.
I think what was possible yesterday is impossible today. The practices currently exercised by certain political powers, including the Islah or other influential figures, make the Southerners appear firmer in their demands. What is taking place in the South resembles occupation. The Southern locals cannot have a two-meter plot of land. By contrast, the influential control 50 to 1000 hectares [of land], guarded by military vehicles.
The same is applicable in the North. Some Northerners are not allowed to own even a small piece of land.
The Southerners let go of their state, institutions and oil. Over 50 percent of income [there] is from Hadrmout. People in the South feel exceedingly mistreated.