Mohammed Alraba’ee to Yemen Times: “We are struggling to achieve the goals of the revolution.” [Archives:2001/37/Interview]

September 10 2001

Mohammed Abdullrahman Alraba’ee, 71 years old, lived through the Imam’s regime and the revolution. His views about the 1962 revolution and its goals differ from what has been said by historians.
He believes that the six goals of the revolution did not translate aspirations of the Yemeni people but were declared in imitation to other regimes and systems which were imposed on the Yemeni revolution. According to him, the six goals cannot become a reality in Yemen, because the continuous changes on the regional and international arenas have a direct effect on the country.
During an interview, Yemen Times correspondent Mohammed Bin Salam asked AlRaba’ee the following questions:
Q: After a stark opposition, you failed to prevent the latest constitutional amendments from being implemented and you did not score any success on other subjects related to the Yemeni arrears. How do you respond to that?
A: How rough to describe us as being unsuccessful. I do not know on what basses you have judged us this way. We are satisfied with the results. Those who do not know the hidden facts realize that the opposing political forces did not fail as you may believe.
Our people are usually very discreet. When they come to contemplate the end results, even if they are twisted, they accept them in silence although they consider them unfair. So, the new procedures and amendments became legal with the population remaining silent and therefore accepting it. This is the kind of legality that the last constitutional amendments do enjoy.
Q: The opposition forces withdrew their pre-stated conditions during negotiations with the government on the latest constitutional amendments which guarantee fair elections and the end of perpetual financial contributions imposed on the helpless population. What was the price of this withdrawal?
A: The opposition forces did not withdraw. They all agreed to suspend negotiations with the government at that time because its latest decision, which is not the first one and will not be the last, caught everyone by surprise in a very inappropriate time. Through negotiations, the government tried to impose its financial decree without any prior announcement. The opposition forces decided therefore to halt the negotiations in order to express their refusal of the new governmental policies. An question arose during the negotiations with the government, that is wether Prime Minister Bajammal was representing the government or the PGC. We respect Mr. Abdulljader Bajammal, our prime minister, but his presence at the negotiation table as only a representative of the ruling party was somewhat irrational. Because of that, there were no equality between the party. I do understand things as a politician. ” If you are a politician you are a negotiator and if you are a negotiator you are a politician.” Negotiations are something natural in politics. You should conduct negotiations with your colleagues at the party, your partners at work, and your friends in a drive to come up with the right solutions to any problem.
Q: News is spreading that disagreements appeared within the opposition movement, especially on the elections law. What is your comment on these allegations?
A: There is no misunderstanding nor disagreement between the opposition parties. There is no mistakes in the texts of the election law. The most important thing is how we apply them. Our constitution presents very strict texts and articles but, unfortunately, they are to be found in books only. Among them, Article Nr. 5 states, ” The political system is based on pluralism and partisanship that guarantee the peaceful transfer of power. Another one says, “No one owns the right to use the national budget or a governmental position in order to serve a particular party or any specific political entity.” If we ask ourselves wether the government applies such strict laws properly, the answer is no. The failure in the past elections did not result from the texts themselves but from their misuse.
Article no. 39 states, “The military and security forces are the possessions of the citizens, no one owns the right to use them in serving his own interests or these of a particular party.” During electoral time, we can observe that these two institutions are the instrument of one person or party.
Q: No country among the developing world was successful in adapting democracy as a political system. It may be due to the social and cultural heritage of these countries or it may come from something else. How do you evaluate Yemen’s democracy as described by our politicians? Could they succeed in transforming it to a real democracy?
A: Some voices demand to reduce plurality and partisanship in the country and to limit the political landscape to two or three parties at the most. They claim that it would create a democracy adapted to the unique atmosphere of the country, as our system does not resemble to democracies in the Western Countries.
Q: Is this related to democracy? How do you evaluate such desires and policies?
A: I do not think that there are unique societies presenting exceptions in dealing with various political issues and systems. There is no partial democracy (25%, 50% or 60%). It is either full democracy or another system. That is why I vehemently objected to the so-called ’emerging democracy’ that lately emerged in our national political arena by saying, ” Does the title implies dictatorship wearing the coat of democracy?!” Democracy cannot be softened or separated. We should either be strong enough and self confident to embrace it as a whole or apologize and withdraw. It is irrational to use weak excuses in order to claim the necessity of adapting an imperfect form of democracy. Some these excuses are the following: inflation of illiteracy rates in the country, unability of the society to adapt itself and conduct a team work, ignorance of majority of the citizens on this issue, and other illogical pretenses. Only imperialistic states repeat such excuses. It is better for the government to apologize and confess its incapacity to grant the population complete freedom and self-determination rights. Furthermore, our national government should not imitate the imperialists.
Q: How do you judge the democratic atmosphere in the country?
A: I really disagree with those people who accuse the ruling party and other parties members the coalition of imposing imperfect democracy on our society. This is not only their own fault but also all political parties’ responsibility. They have all contributed to limit democracy, as the opposition forces remained silent instead of using the available democratic resources granted by the government.
Q: The Yemeni politicians, intellectuals and religious men are pessimistic about the future of the country. What visions do you have about our future taking into consideration the regional and international changes, such as the world moving towards Globalization, open markets, and other evolutions?
A: I possess publications written 25 years ago. Most of them present evaluations of civil societies throughout the centuries. The wheel of civil society’s evaluation is driving us towards more comfortable partnership between world nations to be achieved through world Globalization.
I believe that the nations could become of the globalized world after being qualified to participate actively in different fields, such as culture, economy and social issues. To be an active partner, you must be qualified and able to conduct and respond to demands made by this partnership.
Q: What solutions do you predict to end all mishaps and crises in the country? Do you think that after the social, economical, and political crises, which are endangering the future of the Yemeni people, they would enjoy a life presenting security and progress, or is there any major disaster awaiting them?
A: Pessimists predict the latter because many alarming factors are present in our country: a widening gap between social classes, a sharp rise in poverty, an increase in illiteracy rates, the lack of medical security, the frequent crimes, and the economic crisis. Above all, the population feelings to live in a world of discrimination, injustice, insecurity, corruption, incompetent administration, and so on, feeds on the idea of a bleak future.
I agree with your analysis, especially if things will move into this direction. The only solution I can suggest is to activate the role the political forces are supposed to play, that is cooperating together to correct all the wrong doings made so far in the country.
This could be a test on their expected role and their ability to adapt to new challenges. If the political performance would continue to be as poor as it is right now, we shall loose any hope to be successful in the future. As a conclusion, I can say that to be globalized has become a must, as globalization is sometimes imposed on all who refuse it.
Nowadays, developed nations are worried about globalization. As for our nation, it is not only less developed but also deeply asleep. We need a balance between the social and governmental roles to achieve progress in Yemen. Such cooperation between all parts of our society will help us to be more competent in dealing with this new state of emergency.
Q: But, you did not answer my question up to now!
A: All indications force us not to have high aspirations but not to be extremely pessimists in the same time. High expectations go against the practical and effective policies. I swear my God that our natural resources are wasted and the economic crises our country faces are fixed only with rusty ” scissors”. The government not only confiscates the natural resources but also increases the burdens on the population. Most of the grants and loans offered by the World Bank and other donors are directly diverted by some senior officials. If rusty scissors can be used to perform successfully a surgical operation, the robbers could be able to solve our economic quagmire. No wonder that we find pessimists as a majority among the population.
Q: On September 26, 1962, the Yemeni revolution erupted in the northern part of Yemen and was based on six goals. Today, 40 years after this event, revolution was accomplished while achieving these six goals has become a dream. What has pushed them so far from reality?
A: I think that the problem already existed before revolution. Among many people, I was greatly worried about the hasty preparations to provoke the uprising, which may have concluded with the change of the ruler only but not the situation and the ruling system. The Imam’s regime collapsed because of internal weaknesses, as everyone was complaining about a situation unfit for a comfortable life. Change became necessary as, before revolution, there was no army, qualified cadres, nor educated citizens, and only a handful of university graduates could be found. people were present in all fields.
Three months had passed since the beginning of the revolution when I tried to correct some procedures and insisted that the path we were walking on would lead us to be imprisoned another 30 years. My brothers said, “You are pessimistic.”
All these problems occurred because preparation of the revolution was too hastened to guarantee perennial success in its utilization by the coming generations as desired.
We might still achieve the goals of the revolution, but not throughout the redaction of good texts and sentences which remain in a theoretical level.
Before the revolution, I said that we needed only two things to make a real change:
– A strong eagerness among the public to provoke change;
– A modification of the current regime.
During the four decades elapsed since the eruption of the revolution, we have been fighting and we will continue, despite our age, our fight to amend the September revolution.
Yemen might have a strong army but it is not serving the nation, rather it is used to protect the interests of a minority of people.
I do not think that our country is going through a state of emergency that necessitates the army mobilization inside Sana’a and in the main cities all over the country. Who is our enemy and where it is? Allah be praised that our border disputes with our neighbors have already been solved. We must turn this army from a consumption entity to a tool able to be constructive and productive. The army personnel could participate in building useful projects instead of competing for higher military ranks.
We can amend so many things but our government does not show any strong willingness to do so. I do not want people to misunderstand me. My speech does not belittle the revolutions to a major national incident.
I have only been trying only to outlay what the revolution outcomes should be. It was a personal point of view and time confirmed my predictions to be correct.
Q: Do you think that the revolution should be renamed a movement or a major incident because it did not achieve its goals over the past 40 years
A: It is a superficial revolution. I did not aim at changing the ruling system and replacing with something worse. The people’s aspirations before the revolution were driven to change the situation as a whole, the gloomy conditions, and the dark age prevailing in the country. Unfortunately, many factors worked together to hinder the achievement of a real revolution desired by the population and not only by a small group of people.
Among these factors, the revolution was followed by a state of instability during the 1970s, a proof that the Yemenis were ready to destroy their own work and achievements.
– We make a revolution then destroy it.
– We make unity then punish it.
We have good intentions but we are choosing misleading avenues to achieve our objective.
Unity was a dream that all Yemenis desired to realize a long time ago but it was never brought to the negotiations table before 1972. It finally was achieved in 1990. I claim that I was one of the motivated people who brought the unity issue on the negotiations table between the former South and North Yemens.
Q: 10 years after unity was achieved, many people have become disenchanted. What are the problems which could endanger the continuation of the nation’s unity?
A: As I said before, Yemen has a unique rule: ” Achieve success then damage it by your own wrong doing!” Believe me that this is a reality. Before we damaged our revolution and now we are hurting our unity.
I lived long in the southern part of the country. I taught in many rural regions there, such as Abyan, Lahj and Zinjubar. Wherever I was, I never felt to be out of Sana’a. Many current important leaders used to be my pupils during my years of teaching from the 1950s to the 1980s. Most Yemenis feel being aliens in their own country and, after unity, some citizens became of second rank in their own country. Expatriation is indeed spreading like plague.
These people are called citizens but conduct a life as expatriates.
It can be dangerous when the majority is complaining and cry out of pain.
If the government policies continue hurting the population that way, the feeling of hate would reach a climax. The people should have a life free of discrimination. The officials should take their responsibilities and pay a minimum attention to solve urgent issues in the society. Otherwise, the end result would be more dramatic.
Q: Regarding the editors in chief of Al-Shoura newspaper and the instability reigning due to the frequent change of its chief editors, what is the main problem shaking the newspaper?
A: In Fact, the late Abdullah Sa’ad was the emperor of Al-Shoura and was not the culprit of the People’s Power syndicate party.
When a new trend appeared inside the syndicate to make Al-Shoura an institutional entity, Abdullah Sa’ad could not bear with the new environment and chose to retire. The problem occurred while the newspaper began looking for an editor in chief to replace Abdullah Sa’ad. The search focused on member of the party to choose a speaker of the party for the newspaper. Dr. Muhammed AbdullMalik is the supervisor of the AlShora nowadays while efforts are continuing to rehabilitate administration of the newspaper and find the appropriate man.
Q: Why the party leaders cannot return home?
A: Frankly speaking Mr. Ibraheem Al-Wazeer is very busy with several Islamic activities all over the country. Moreover, his health is declining. There is no obstacles hindering the return of the other leaders in Yemen. In fact, they are visiting the country from time to time.