Yemeni Nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman has vowed to continue her struggle against internal and external counter-revolution forces that work together against her war-ravaged country.
She also called for stopping the war, dismantling all militias, and resuming the political process.
In an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency on the 10th anniversary of her winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Karman said Yemenis are facing a “fateful battle” against enemies who are trying to destroy and divide their country.
“Although the greed of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to gain influence in Yemen encouraged them to commit crimes against humanity and desecrate the country, the last word in this struggle has not been said yet,” she said.
In 2011, some Yemenis described Karman as the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” after receiving the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She also became the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win the prestigious global prize.
Karman and her friends celebrated the 10th anniversary of her winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Istanbul on Thursday to recall “10 Years of Work and Hope”.
Referring to the motives of the Arab Spring in Yemen, Karman said: “We believed in our right to live with dignity, justice, democracy, equality, and establish a state of law. We believed in our right to change a tyrannical, failed, and corrupt regime.”
She said these demands were still valid.
“I was nothing but a model for that massive popular and social movement. When my win of the Nobel Prize was announced, every Yemeni woman saw that as a symbolic honor for herself, and those who participated in the popular revolution saw that as a global honor and recognition of their free will,” Karman added.
Karman said the revolutions are not measured by quick gains and losses. Any revolution is a historical change, driven by demands for freedom, dignity, justice, and change.
“Whoever goes out to fight for these goals does not bond success or failure to the challenges on the road,” she added.
Recognition for her non-violent struggle
Winning the prize was a recognition of her non-violent struggle for the freedom of expression rights and safety of women and participation in peace-building work in Yemen.
She said the Yemeni people will not submit to the external occupation and their local agents such as Houthi militias in Sanaa or the separatist armed groups in Aden. She described Yemen as the graveyard of invaders.
“The struggle for a secure homeland governed by law, equal citizenship, and democracy will remain as our supreme goal. Our battle with enemies is a battle of existence,” she said.
As the international community has been trying for the past seven years to establish peace in Yemen, Karman believed that it can only be achieved by putting an end to the Iranian, Saudi, and Emirati interventions.
She said that Iran and Saudi Arabia have turned Yemen into an arena for their rivalry and ambitions.
“Leaving the de-facto authority of Houthis unresolved is a continuous declaration of war against our people. The existence of the UAE guardianship over the islands of Yemen, most importantly in Socotra, Mayan, Bab al-Mandab, and Balhaf port, is a declaration of war, and there will be no peace in Yemen without lifting this guardianship,” she added.
She asked the world to put pressure on Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to stop tampering with Yemen.
She said that Yemen needs to complete the transitional phase following the three references, and the UN Security Council resolutions that affirmed respect for Yemen and its unity, security, stability, and sovereignty.
Before winning the Nobel Prize, Karman was known as a journalist, politician, and human rights activist. She had led the group of Women Journalists Without Chains, which she co-founded in 2005. Later, she became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that was part of the Arab Spring uprising.
Today, Karman has become the voice of Yemen around the world.
“I present the voice of my country and my people in all the international events, and all my meetings and lectures at different universities around the world. I always talk about Yemen in my meetings with governments, and events of global civil societies and organizations,” she said.
Karman Foundation aids affected
In addition, she has founded many institutions, including Tawakkol Karman Foundation and Belqis TV Channel in Istanbul.
The activities of these institutions included advocating human rights and freedom, supporting media and journalism, and providing humanitarian and charitable aid for the most affected groups in Yemen, as well as giving scholarships to promising students from various countries.
The foundation also empowers women to take the lead in their communities, in cooperation with governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and donor communities, to serve humanity.
Karman said Yemeni people have been demanding peace, but Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are putting more oil to the fire.
“While the world is trying its best to establish peace in Yemen, Iran continues to support its Houthi militias in Sanaa and UAE still backing the Southern Transition Council (STC)’s activities against the government,” she said.
She said the instability in Yemen had consequences on the region.
“The extension of war and chaos in Yemen will have a heavy cost paid by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which did not understand the danger of tampering with Yemen,” she added.
Urges for launching reconstruction efforts
She said that the future of Yemen depends on ending the “unjust and destructive” war against Yemen, which can be achieved by “ending the de-facto authorities of the Houthi militias, departure of the Saudi-Emirati occupation, and the return of the Yemeni state”.
She urged for launching a major project for reconstruction in Yemen and the application of transitional justice law as the main parts of a comprehensive peace plan.
On Feb. 11, 2011, Yemenis revolted in most governorates against the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was later killed at the end of December 2017 by his former allies, the Houthis.
Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015 after Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sanaa and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee the country.