Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu-Bakr al-Qirbi, has said that Yemeni military and security institutions will make additional efforts in the upcoming days to cleanse the Abyan governorate of its remaining al-Qaeda pockets. He stressed that no obstacles are hindering the security operations that are aimed at combatting the organization within Yemen.
In an interview with Al-Hayat, Qirbi said that security apparatuses are working around the clock to release the Saudi deputy consul Abdallah al-Khalidi, who was kidnapped in Aden. He added, “We hope to hear good news about the abductee in the coming days.” Qirbi also said Yemen informed Iran that instability, sedition and sectarian conflicts are not merely a threat to that country. Instead, regardless of which party is responsible, these provocations put the entire region at risk. The following is the text of the interview:
Al-Hayat: Is the Yemeni government’s security solution to the al-Qaeda in Yemen (AQIY) problem being implemented according to plan? Are there any obstacles?
Qirbi: The government does not believe that the security solution is the only way to combat forms of rebellion against the state. It is part of a package of methods to counter the challenges that are posed by terrorism in the state of Yemen. In the upcoming days, the military and security institutions will succeed in cleansing the remaining al-Qaeda pockets in the governate of Abyan. There are no obstacles impeding these operations. The focus now should be on intensifying reconstruction efforts and providing compensation for area residents who have been affected by the hostile acts committed by these deviant forces.
Al-Hayat: Do you regard the bombing that targeted the military parade in Sanaa as a reprisal against the Yemeni army for its achievements? For example, was the bombing in retaliation for killing an al-Qaeda leader, driving out al-Qaeda members from Lawdar and thwarting an attempt to bomb a US airliner in Yemen?
Qirbi: We are facing difficult times in Yemen, as we are just emerging from a crisis that nearly dragged the country into a civil war. In the context of this circumstance, with our military and security forces waging battles and fighting the war on terror, it is normal to experience some security imbalances. These imbalances enabled the forces of terror to carry out their cowardly act at Al-Sabeen Square on the eve of the day that we celebrate Yemen’s unity. The act reflects the terrorists’ state of confusion and defeat. That state is a result of the painful blows that were dealt to them by military and security forces and members of the popular committees.
Al-Hayat: Do the tribes sympathize with the al-Qaeda elements? The organization has taken control of some Yemeni cities — what are the reasons that allowed al-Qaeda to establish itself and expand in Yemen?
Qirbi: A number of different factors have contributed to the expansion of al-Qaeda’s terrorist activity in its present areas. To be specific, these factors are the country’s severe political impasse and the divisions within the security and military institutions. These divisions undermined the institutions’ performance during last year’s crisis. The crisis brought forth the conditions that enabled the expansion of terrorism.
The dire humanitarian conditions helped the terrorists attract local elements in areas where al-Qaeda invested a lot of money. But seizing power unfairly and in a way that contradicts the law of God and Sharia soon exposed the terrorist intentions of the organization. This led to the people combining their efforts with the army and security forces to achieve victory.
Al-Hayat: Have you invited the al-Qaeda elements to participate in a dialogue, or are there intermediaries between you and the organization?
Qirbi We cannot start a dialogue with the terrorists until they stop their terrorist acts, return to the right track and renounce violence and terrorism.
Al-Hayat: Did US intervention help in the fight against terrorism in Yemen? What is the level of Yemeni-US security cooperation on Yemen’s territories?
Qirbi: Yemeni-US cooperation in the fight against terrorism continues in various forms, ranging from logistical collaboration, training, information exchange and coordination in the global war on terrorism. This cooperation has yielded positive results, since the evils of terrorism do not impact the security and stability of just Yemen, but affect the entire region and the world as well.
Al-Hayat: What are the latest developments on the efforts to release kidnapped Saudi diplomat Abdallah al-Khalidi? What are the results of the mediations underway by the tribes and dignitaries of the area?
Qirbi: We hope that the coming days will bear good news about the Saudi deputy consul that was kidnapped in Aden. The security agencies are working around the clock, in addition to the mediation efforts of the area’s dignitaries.
Al-Hayat: You have mentioned that certain parties in Iran are interfering in the internal affairs of Yemen. Would you elaborate on Iranian interference in Yemen’s internal affairs? Are the countries that are allied with Yemen aware of this?
Qirbi: The Yemeni people are bound by historical and fraternal ties to the Iranian people. But some parties in Iran seek to interfere in the internal affairs of Yemen. We have always stressed to our Iranian brothers the need to preserve the relationship between our two countries and our relationship with the other countries of the region. Instability and the instigation of sedition or sectarian conflicts by any party does not threaten just a particular country, but the entire region.
Al-Hayat: Is former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh interfering in the affairs of the incumbent government? What is the mechanism that ensures non-interference in the performance of the national consensus government?
Qirbi: Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh plays a role via the General People's Congress (GPC) , which was the first party involved in the implementation of the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism. It is also a partner in the transitional process and the national consensus government. I find no basis for such a question, since prominent GPC members are working under the leadership of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi — the former vice president and secretary general of the GPC — and Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basandawa to ensure the success of the Gulf Initiative and the transitional process in Yemen.