Yemeni political activist Tawakkol Karman said that the Arab Spring revolution in Syria will soon achieve its goals. She lauded Turkey’s role in supporting the Syrian revolution and the Arab revolutions in general. In an interview with the Anatolia News Agency (ANA), Karman, the recipient of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her role in the Yemeni revolution, added that the Arab Spring revolutions remained on the right track and were capable of ousting the remnants of the former corrupt regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, just as they had gotten rid of the heads of those regimes. While she was participating in the Seventh National Congress of the Islamic Justice and Development Party in Morocco, she clarified in an interview that women in all countries of the Arab Spring have exhibited their true capacity to lead. Arab women, according to Karman, proved that they were able to overcome all the hurdles that had been placed in their path by the corrupt and oppressive regimes. The following is the transcript of the interview:
ANA Your name has been associated with the Yemeni revolution, which led to you receiving the Nobel Peace Prize; what were your contributions to that revolution?
Karman Along with many other women, young people and men, I contributed by leading the Yemeni revolution until the desired changes were attained. Specifically, I am referring to the overthrow of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime. The country was saved from the state of failure it endured as a result of Saleh’s many poor political, security and economic practices.
ANA The participation of Yemeni women in their country’s revolution surpassed that of women in other countries. Why is that?
Karman Women in all countries of the Arab Spring exhibited their true capacity to lead and have proven able to surmount all the hurdles that were strewn in their path by corrupt and oppressive regimes. They have also taken the task of overthrowing these regimes upon themselves and were among the protesters on the front lines.
In Yemen in particular, presence of women has been strong, both during the revolution and in the country’s current transitional phase. This is due to many reasons. Among them is the care that Yemeni men had put in encouraging women to take their place at the forefront of the events. We saw fathers, brothers and husbands encourage their mothers, wives and sisters to demonstrate in the squares until the revolution was able to change all of the erroneous ideas, customs and traditions that previously barred Yemeni women from taking to the streets. Despite these advances, Yemeni women still have major challenges to overcome. Specifically, they must succeed in leading the country in the coming phase, just as they did during the revolution.
ANA Despite all this revolutionary fervor, some fear that the Arab revolutions will be side-tracked.
Karman There is no fear whatsoever concerning the path of the Arab revolutions. This is especially true regarding their ability to achieve their goals and overthrow the corrupt ruling regimes. Beyond deposing the heads of these regimes, the revolutions will also dismantle their corrupt foundations. I have no doubt that the Arab revolutions are achieving their goals as we speak in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. God willing, they will also be realized in Syria soon. All of these revolutions are still battling to depose of the remnants of the former regimes, while also working to build the state.
Furthermore, the issue of state-building in Yemen has taken a turn for the better. The security and military institutions are in the process of unifying with each other, which is essential to building a civil state. An inclusive national dialogue is being established to discuss all of the country’s hanging issues, which will result in a new and strong constitution that fulfills the ambitions of everyone.
ANA The process of democratic change in Libya differed from the one in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. In Libya, foreign military intervention was necessary to overthrow President Moammar Gadhafi. Do you endorse this option for Syria?
Karman I am convinced that the people in all countries of the Arab Spring are responsible for overthrowing their oppressive regimes. Military intervention in Libya came at the behest of international rights groups and was not a popular demand. What I think is currently needed in Syria is for Turkey to rise up, with the cooperation of the international community, and put an end to the bloodshed that is being perpetrated by Assad’s regime. While it has played a major role in backing the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution, and we appreciate and thank it for all that it has done in support of the Arab Spring revolutions in general, we are waiting for Turkey to do even more.
ANA What is your message to Arab women?
Karman My message is not solely aimed at Arab women, but at women in all parts of the world. They should strive to lead the process of change in their countries. [All women should] be aware, stand against all violations of human rights, play a part in the solution, prove that they are citizens capable of giving men their rights and show that they are leaders that are capable of safeguarding their countries from harm. Their participation in the overthrow of corrupt regimes has made them peacemakers, and this was perhaps the reason one of them received a Nobel prize.