President Rashad Al-Alimi's discussion session on the sidelines of the Munich International Security Conference: developments in the Red Sea
President Rashad Al-Alimi's discussion session on the sidelines of the Munich International Security Conference: developments in the Red Sea
Sat ، 17 Feb 2024 17:45

The attendees:

Souad Mekhennet, an International Security Correspondent, the Washington Post(the interviewer)  

Dr. Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi, President of the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen.

Chris Murphy, Senator, United States of America

Abdulaziz Sager: Founder & Chairman of Gulf Research Center

Hannah Neumann: Member of the European Parliament 

Hans Grundberg: UN special Envoy to Yemen

Some other journalists

 

The interviewer: I encourage you to also please raise your hand and let us know when you're ready to ask questions thank you, so first of all let me introduce the panel here: we have here Mr Rashad Mohammed Al Alimi, your Excellency welcome,he is the chairman of presidential Leadership Council in Yemen and we have Senator Chris Murphy from the United States of America he's also a member of the Senate committee on Foreign Relations, we have Mr Abdulaziz Sakerhe's the founder and chairman of the Gulf Research Center, from Saudi Arabia and we have Miss Hannah Neumann who's the Chair of the delegation for relations with the Arab peninsula for the green party of the European Parliament, welcome

Your Excellency maybe we could begin with you. Can you tell us how does the current situation in the Red Sea impact the life of Yemenis? 

President Al –Alimi: Firstly, thank you very much. I am happy to be with this group of personalities who are interested in Yemeni affairs. Also, I extend all my greetings to all attendees here. With whom we share a set of ideas and perceptions about the situation in Yemen and the Red Sea. Of course, I will start the story with the situation in Yemen. The situation in Yemen today constitutes a major catastrophe, not only for Yemenis, but on the region as a whole. The world has awakened today, or let me say during the pastcable of months, to a threat for navigation in the Red Sea. This threat, we Yemenis, have been living in it for long periods. The Houthi militias took control of power and imposed themselves as a fait accompli. The regional and international community interacted with this problem. The International community issued resolutions, the most important of which is Resolution 2216. Unfortunately, the international community dealt with this issue as if it were a fait accompli.

It was dealt with as a political problem and that it was linked to the narrative that the Houthis and their supporters promoted in many places. When they claimed that they are oppressed and they only wanted to participate in authority. During the entire past phase, it was proven to everyone, both at the regional and international levels, that this group is the one that does not want to participatewith others through several facts during the last period. The most important of which were all the agreements that were signed with this group but they did not adhere to. The legitimate government made multiple concessions at all times to accommodate these demands, restore the state, and enter into a process of free, fair, and democratic elections in which everyone participates. But this group imposed a fait accompli by force of arms; unfortunately all the entire international force did not work to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy during this entire stage.

Resolution 2216 was issued and it was a road map to solve the Yemeni problem. But we were surprised by many of those interested in the Yemeni issues and those responsible for them, whether in international organizations or in Western countries, who said that this resolution is not applicable, that it has been bypassed and that there is another reality. Therefore this community has acquiesced to the saying and narratives of thefait accompli. Thus the terrorist Houthi militias took control over the government by force of arms, violated all laws, the local constitution, confiscated property, and committed many crimes against the Yemenis. The world was watching the Yemenis, while they had a great humanitarian tragedy during that stage, and the world was not paying attention to us.

The interviewer: it's still ongoing and no one is paying attention to the way the United States of America and the UK government are dealing at the moment with the Houthis, is that the right way to deal with them from your Perspective?

President Al-Alimi: What do you mean? The attacks?

The interviewer: yes

Ok, I believe that the strikes that are being carried out today will not solve the problem at all. I do also believe that these strikes will not remove the threat to international navigation or the attacks, because the threat comes from land and not from the sea. Therefore, I believe that the important and basic solution is to make partnership with the government and support it; which will enable the government to restore the state and have control over the areas controlled by the Houthis. This is how regional and international security is achieved because today the drones and ballistic missiles that come from Iran to the Houthis are the ones that threaten navigation in the Red Sea and come from land and not from the coasts. 

The interviewer: yes

The interviewer: for in the Red Sea and other coasts Ms. Hanah Neumann into the conversation.Because she was in Yemen recently, Ms. Neumannn his Excellency mentioned that Iran plays a role in the whole situation, how do you see that? 

Ms. Neumann: I was indeed in Yemen just in December and visited Aden. We left the day that the prosperity Guardian Mission started. I think itis important that the European Union that will now also join with the mission and we do something against this blackmailing of the Houthis in the Red Sea. But we also have to deal with the longer termissues and the root courses. Here I would mention,first of all it is quite clear that Iran, the Iranian regime is fueling this escalation the Intelligence on which ships should be attacked is coming from Iran, the equipment to attack the ships is coming from Iran and it is clearly it’s in Iran's interest to stir confusion and escalation in the region as a whole. So without dealing with Iran we will runinto these situations again and again. The second issue is the inner Yemeni peace process that is currently on hold again, there were some hopesthat it could be transferred to the UN. I'm sure Hans Grundberg himself can speak better about that and now with this escalation in the Red Sea. It's difficult again yet we need to address that in the medium and long term and not all the attentioncan go on this escalation. Allow me one last remark regarding the Houthis. They claim to dothese attacks in the Red Sea to support the children in Palestine, at the same time half of the Yemeni population, half of the children in Yemen are malnourished and this has a lot to do with the policies of the Houthis. Senator, may I ask you, do you agree that the real issue is actually Iran here and is the way the US government and the UK are treating the situation at the moment the right way in your opinion?

Senator Murphy: well there is no doubt that Iran is behind these attacks as said the intelligence, but also the equipment comes directly from Tehran.Listen the United States is not going to stand by while the freedom of navigation is interrupted and US assets transiting through the Red Sea are being attacked. We have obviously launched an unprecedented response that we believe over time will downgrade the ability of the Houthis to be able to engage in these acts of piracy. But I do think it's important to sort of understand the context, there are many of us in the United States Congress that were deeply opposed to the US participation in the conflict in Yemen. Our participation ran through the Saudis, our worry was that by engaging in that conflict we would extend it and the extension of that conflict would end up giving more influence and more involvement to the Iranians inside Yemen and inside the Houthi infrastructure. So I think we are seeing now the consequence of a war that lasted far too long. Iran may not have command and control over the Houthis as they do with some of their other proxies in the region. But there is nodoubt they are more deeply integrated today than they were at the beginning of this latest iteration of the war, so the United States will. you know,continue to engage in this response effort. I do not think there is an appetite in the United States for us to be part of a coalition that would do more thanstrike from the Sea and the air but we believe over time this can have a deterrent effect.

The interviewer: I just have to ask you to make sure we understood fully, that is it that you say senator that the war which the Saudi elect Coalition had against Houthis is responsible for what we are seeing today that the Houthis became stronger. In fact is that what you're saying?

Senator Murphy:  No’ well listen, No one bears responsibility for what is happening today aside from the Houthis and their sponsors in Tehran,period stop. All I'm saying is that you need to understand the context and there is no doubt that the relationship and the level of integration between Iran and the Houthis increased over the course of that long War. It was one of the warnings that many of us gave who were opposing USparticipation in the war that is not a means of shifting blame, I think that is to me just a recognition of reality.

The interviewer: Dr Abdulaziz from Saudi Arabia in fact had quite an experience with actually the Houthis for many years in the war. What advice would you give the US and UK governments today? How to deal with the situation what would be the right way to deal with it? 

Dr. Abdulaziz: Thank you Souad, I'm glad to be here let me start by saying the Red Sea used to be a quiet corridor with no much activity going on in terms of terrorist attack or in terms of disturbance until the Israeli and the Iranian start targeting eachother. Then it became a very well disturbed and the Red Sea in both side, the Swiss in the North and the Bab El Mandab in the South. To link what the Houthis have done against or launching their rocket or their missiles to Tel Aviv and Link it to the Gaza situation is a big mistake for two reasons. It did not start today, it's already since 9 years they're attacking vessels, they have their fast boat,they did piracy, they have done terrorist attack and we have been saying this from day one in 2018, when the Coalition forces were close to gain Hodeida, the British and the Americans said no you should not. This is a red line, this will have an impact on the humanitarian situation on the Yemen, so you should not do you should not move. Why we did not join the prosperity forces, I think that are very clear reason:number one we believe there is an international sea agreement 1981 and this would have required a Security Council resolution instead of an individual country raising uh the sort of Coalitionlike what the US and UK have proposed. Secondthere is a serious negotiation between the legitimate government and the Huothis, that Saudi with the support of the Special Envoy arecoordinating the issues which first has to deal with the hostages, the prisoner of war and all this huge numbers. But at the same time so we thought that you know, we did not want to disturb any issue related to that, third I don't think the US and even the new European Naval capability that they are looking for a Saudi or UAE Naval capabilities to support their presence there. They have all the majority of the capability what they need is the legitimacy of the act and fourth we do believe in the region particularly the GCC countries in totaland Saudi Arabia and UAE since they are part of the Coalition that having a diplomatic talks may result into a better answer. However if you look at all the US and the British attack it was targeting a naval capability, they possess and most of that capability took it from the Iranian side as Dr. Hassaid here and the senator. The information coming from Iran, satellite images coming from there, themissiles coming from Iran so the triangle that has to do with the source of the weapon, the logistic and the route, the launching platform and the storage what the US did Target and the British is the storage and the launching you see and lately some of the supply chain but not the main source that coming from Iran because in no way the US will involve in at least for the time being and targeting the source that which is coming from Iran. So dealing with that issue it's a bit a bit of a complex but you can see that three countries in the region or in the Red Sea have suffered a lot: Egypt have lost 40% of their income Saudi Arabia and the Yemenis in general by the way they are the biggest loser. Because even the agreement they made between the Houthis and the Chinese not to attack any Chinese vessels, it did not work,it work only to stop the attack on the vessel but it did not help to reduce the prices the cost of shipping and the insurance. So the Yemenis alsoare suffering from that one. The interviewer: so are you saying other words if you would have to advise the US and UK government you would advise them to attack Iran?

Dr. Abdulaziz: no I will advise them to go to the deep root in the Houthi side, thery don't accept a violent then, State actor that who took over the government and throw the legitimate government and legitimized their act on the basis of what his Excellency have said, the reality on the ground,and accept that terminology and deal with it. Thisis a violent State actor, if we accept this notion where do we stop! Do we stop in Isis in Iraq? Or do we stop on the Ahrar Al Sham in Syria? Or do we stop in Hizballah in Lebanon? Where do we stop with that one? 

The interviewer: So actually Hannah  Neumann since you were the one who brought Iran into this discussion also with his Excellency I will come back to you in a moment, what should the European Union, what should actually the West do here in terms of Iran?

Ms. Neumann: it's easy to sound smart up hereand what we can learn from the Saudi experience in Yemen also? Is that bombing Yemen is not going to do any good and it's not going to help with anything. So indeed going to the root course and Iran and I would say let's start with being as clear in our rhetoric and politics viz a viz Iraq viz a viz Iran as we are with Russia, Because they are joining forces they also joining forces in this

case and we should check if especially in Germany, it took us a long time to fully acknowledge how dangerous it is what Russia is doing. Although the neighbors of Russia have been warning us and telling us and some of that reminds me of the situation with Iran right now where for years and years the neighbors have told us how toxic and how difficult it is. Because we thoughtthere would be stability if we are not too outspoken. We haven't been as clear, we haven't been clear enough and now we don't even have regional stability and let's not talk about the situation of people inside Iran. They are all suffering from this regime.

The interviewer: I understand but the question is what should be done? So you say it should be clear more words more rhetoric, rhetoric from what I understood is that what you also agree with your Excellency or would you say the world would have to go a step further and maybe use force?

The President: I believe that the Iranians are neither in favor of diplomacy nor in favor of soft methods. The whole world has tried diplomacy with Iran. Now for 40 years, the world has been practicing this diplomatic and soft method with Iran. We want to tell the world today that appeasing these terrorist militia groups supported by Iran whenever you give them incentives and satisfy them. The more they demand more gains, and this is our experience in Yemen with the Houthis and with Iran. The more we give them concessions within the framework of our keenness to achieve peace, security and stability for the Yemenis and the region; the more they demand more gains. The evidence of that is the Stockholm Agreement. Hodeidah today, which is the main port from which missiles, drones are launched and Iranian weapons were coming to it; the legitimate government was about to take control over it, and the port was only 3 kilometers away from the legitimate forces. But the international community intervened with all force and stopped this operation for humanitarian reasons. Today, where is the humanitarian situation in Yemen? The humanitarian situation is much worse than it would have been if the legitimate government had taken control over these areas. Therefore, I believe that it is a method of appeasement, a method of flattery, and a method of identification with the de facto authorities and the militias that serve Iran by proxyin the region. I believe that this is a method that has been proven to us in Yemen as an experience that it is a method that does not lead to any results, but it leads to further consolidation of the fait accompli and more Iranian control. The evidence is what we are witnessing today in the Red Sea. The Red Sea was planned by Iran early. It had a strategy to control the Red Sea. It controlled the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab, and it was a strategic dream for Iran. The evidence is that Iran hasannounced that the Red Sea has become an Iranian lake. Today we are not talking about when it will stop? Does it have anything to do with Gaza or what does it have to do with Gaza? The issue is much deeper as long as these militias remain supported by Iran. As long as weapons continue to flow to them from Iran, they will continue to threaten navigation in the Red Sea and may, in coming times, blackmail other regions.

The interviewer: so Senator before I open the floor, the question here from the audience, I would like to ask you what should the West do to also ensure that the humanitarian situation inside Yemen is not getting worse with all that's happening or what can be done from yourperspective?

Senator Murphy: Well let me quickly answer that question but I do want to weigh in for a moment on your very correct question about what do wedo, beyond rhetoric? What is our actual policy moving forward on Iran? So as you know the United States did move forward with a new terrorist designation for the Houthis that waspostponed for a period of time. So that we can take steps to assure that humanitarian Aid is still allowed into the country. Very clearly this is a moment where the United States has todramatically increase its contribution to humanitarian Aid with large legislation, that the United States Senate just considered which was best known for funding the war in Ukraine. Also included billions in new humanitarian assistanceand I would hope our partners in the Gulf will do the same. It has been very difficult at times to try to convince some of our friends in the Gulf to help put significant dollars, many have been generous but the dollars have been at times far too intermittent. So working with our friends in theregion is important. On this question of Iran for just one moment, listen you have two paths you have an escalatory path and you have a de-escalatory path, I support the decision of the BidenAdministration to launch significant attacks against Iranian proxies. I think it is important to know that since those attacks were launched we have not seen our forces at risk in the way that they were prior to these attacks. But there is not an appetite in the United States of America to go to war with Iran. There is not and it is important to note that during the period of time when the jcpoa,the nuclear agreement was operational, we saw no attacks by Iranian proxies on US forces in the region. In fact during that time we were working with the Iranians in our efforts to attack and defeat Isis. I understand the Iranians, my eyes are wide open but this is not a moment to engage in a new diplomatic push. Given their connection to theevents in Gaza and their sponsorship of the attacks on us in the Red Sea, but I just think it's important for everyone here to understand that in the United States, while there is support for these targeted attacks, there is not going to be support for a conventional engagement in Yemen or against Iran. So if that's the case, then you have to make a decision, are you pursuing a escalatory path that has a cap what's the efficacy of that? Or are you going to pursue whenthe time is right a de- escalatory and diplomatic path?

The interviewer: So I would like to give both of you Dr Abdalaziz and Miss Neumann one minute to answer or to comment on this and then I would like to open to the audience.

Dr. Abdulaziz: Yes there are 165 attacks against US facility presence camps airport people since 7 of October. So the arms of the Iranian are not going to be quiet; they will continue to do what they thought they wanted to do. How the US would respond selectively and I'm using the word selective targets, selective attack, selective surgical attack, this is what they're doing. We are moving toward what we call intelligence warfare: you target one thing I target another thing but at the same time this will not bring the region to a quite peace, particularly if the US Administrationdecided to withdraw from Iraq and Syria. This will create a larger vacuum and will allowed much more stronger Iranian presence in the region, that we do not wish to see that happening. Just one lastcomment on the Gaza issue when the Houthisclaim they launch all their rocket and missile for Gaza, that's nonsense in my opinion; because things as I have said started before. However they wanted to gain a nationalistic momentum whether in Yemen or outside Yemen. To say look at we're trying to fight or to resist. At that one fine but look at the damage they did to their own people in the country, to the whole security of the region, to the changes of the geopolitical situation that is taking place.  

The interviewer: one minute please and then the audience.

Hannah Neumann: I don't think we should accept that there is either diplomacy with the regime or bombing pathway when we deal with the Iran,there is something else. It starts with us acknowledging that what we tried in the past which was either we're going to sweet talk withthem or we're going to bomb their proxies, didn't work and now we need to find a new pathway and the way how we get there, no one's going to have that silver, that beautiful answer ready, but we need to start the discussion, start with saying what we did in the past doesn't work and then we need to have that discussion with the Iranians that wantto see a democratic Iran. They are there, they areabroad, they are in the country. We have the generals, we should no longer accept that it's the regime that we deal with when we talk about Iran policy we have to deal and talk with and involve the Iranians that want to see Democratic Country. This time we have to do it together with theneighbors, especially the Gulf countries who are asking us to have this discussion together.

The interviewer: So at the end do you believe this will help also the Yemenis?

Hannah Neumann: Yes’ it should

The interviewer: just to bring it back to our panel, because this is not an Iranian panel. I would like to actually invite, before the questions, the UN representative to Yemen, the envoy please to make a comment: Mr. Hans Grundberg if you don'tmind? Thank you very much.

Hannah Neumann: the cooperation I can see.

The interviewer: Yes’ I can see 

Mr. Hans Grundberg: I represent the whole world, without said no, thank you, thank you it's been fascinating to listen to this and I don't want to interfere in this, The couple of points that I want to make from where I sit is basically some justfactual observations: one is that I think goes without saying that we've seen a gradual destabilization in the Middle East ever since the 7th of October. That has brought up and it has affected the quite numerous conflict lines those exist in the Middle East and is having an effect on them on a broader level. That is also one of the reasons, why we see these Resurgence and adifficulty in trying to capture the essence of what we're trying to deal with, because it's so complex and it's interlinked and once you want to deal withone issue, you have to deal with another. I'm not entering into saying what the narrative is? Which narrative is right? I'm just saying that the interlinkages are there and are affecting each other. So from that point of view and from where I sit and you will have seen me in the Security Council a couple of days; back it's clear that the efforts that I have been engaging on together with all Yemenisides, together with the International Community and the progress that we have seen in Yemen for the last two years. Also the serious way forward that we've seen in attempts to try to achieve a longer term settlement of the conflict in Yemen is at this fragile moment becoming more difficult toachieve; however I as a representative of the United Nations, will be the one that will always and not only because I'm paid to do so, but because I am a firm believer in that, believe in a negotiated and mediated settlement of all the issues that we're talking about.  So from that point of view and that is also based in terms of the points that I made in the Security Council is that we all have a collective effort to make sure that we work towards the escalation in the region, that we work towards the escalation in the Red Sea and that we also safeguard the progress that has been done in Yemen. So that we are able to move the efforts forward in terms of settling the conflict in a country that has been marred by a war for such a long time; I remain a firm believer that we willachieve results in that regard. However, the situation obviously more complicated than before but I'm still feeling a great level of collective support from the International Community and also from the Yemenis themselves, in terms of thatis the right way forward. Thanks.

The interviewer: thank you on that note. I would like to open please who would like to ask a question? Maybe you can begin here, would you please introduce yourself and ask and tell us who you asked the question to, but please a question.

Yes’ and I'm the EU special representative for the Horn of Africa: and it's less a question but I'd like to come back to the spotlight on the Red Sea because I think when I'm looking at the Red Sea I'm also looking at the Horn of Africa. Of course,looking at the other side of the shore of the Red Sea where we basically have between Egypt and Djibouti hardly any strong stable country that is you know could guarantee more of Security on the Red Sea. I think we cannot leave that side of the Red Sea out including to this of course is now you know a war in Sudan that is not just leading to State collapse but where one side is now reaching out to Iran to get arms and ammunition. I think this is an additional problem for heating up the Red Sea and I believe very strongly that we need to look at the Red Sea as a regional from aperspective connecting the two sides and maybemy second point on our EU Mission, I think what is quite important is that the mission is not just a mission on the Red Sea but that is very closely connected to, you know the politics of the literal States and the regional issues that cannot be disconnected from the security in the Red Sea. 

The interviewer: Thank you very much for this. Any questions please,

maybe you can pass on the microphone to, oh yeah, well then and then we go to this gentleman there and the lady.

I have a comment.

The interviewer: please can you introduce yourself?  

My name is Ebtsam Al kutbi, from UAE, I'm a founder and president of Emirates policy Center in Abu Dhabi. The main point now, it's not aquestion, it's a comment that Houthis are non State actor and how can you fight non-state actor with an actor you need to, and US and UK they don't have strategy, you need to have a special force. How can you fight non-state actor? You couldn'tdefeat Isis, the other thing first you have to dry Houthis resources economically. Ok, there's Shabwa there's where he's taking his economic resources, and the other where's the arm is coming? This is how you have the holisticstrategy, now regarding the European Mission how can you Safeguard your ships, the missile you don't have ability.

The interviewer: and that's the last question because we have some other. Ebtsam Al kutbi: and at the end you need to go to the US, so 

The interviewer: actually you asked three questions, I actually think you did ask three questions.

Ebtsam Al kutbi: actually no’ no it's not a question 

The interviewer: and I would need it because ofthe time, the mic, I would need to pass it on to other people but before I let you answer that,maybe we can have one more person and give the questions back to the panel and come to you. Please

A journalist: I have a question in Arabic to His Excellency President Al alimi, a question in Arabic for President Rashad Al-Alimi. Your Excellency has heard Senator Murphy who said that there is no desire on the part of the United States for a war with Iran or a military confrontation with Iran, but also your main ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, does not want any confrontation with Iran, and in fact it currently has an understanding with Iran and it has an understanding with the Houthis as well. So how is it possible for us to realize your desire in light of this Kingdom’s position? Thanks

The interviewer: I would like you to answer first and then please.

President Al Alimi: Firstly, I believe that we are not warmongers. It must be clear that we are not warmongers at all. The Presidential Leadership Council declared since its formation that we are a peace council and not a war council. We agreed with the UN envoy and encouraged his efforts to enhance security, stability and reach a comprehensive and just solution to the Yemeni issue. So the issue for us is that we are not warmongers, we call for peace, but unfortunately neither Iran wants peace in the region nor its henchmen in the region. In fact today, we have two projects in the region that must be clear to everyone; a peace project, whether in Yemen or in the two-state solution within the framework of self determination for the Palestinians, and there is another project, which is a project of destruction and chaos led by Iran in the region. We are a model in Yemen, a model for this proxy war. Piracy that is being carried out today by the Houthis is not piracy in the sense, as is the case in Somalia, where four or five people aboard a ship, kidnap and demand money for that. The issue is much deeper today, there is a proxy war led by the Houthis group for the Iranians using missiles and drones. In the past weeks, American forces seized large quantities of weapons, including submarines, boats, and submarine-shaped boats that don’t appear on the surface of water.

The interviewer: Your Excellency we still have some questions.

President Al-Alimi: therefore, I believe that there is no contradiction at all. We want more pressure on Iran, complete international pressure on Iran in the region, in order to respond for peace in Yemen. What the UN envoy does not want to say, and he is present today with us, that they refused to receive him in Sana’a. These militias refused to receive him.

The interviewer: we have a few more questions, so would you allow your Excellency that we take actually two or three more questions and bring it back to the panel so the audience has a chance. I think there were, please the lady up there, if you don't mind, and then the gentleman in front.

Thank you so much, I'm Mina Alby editor of the national. I have a question to you Senator Murphy, you painted a picture and you said when we had the jcpoa when the P5 plus one had a deal with the Iranians on the jcpoa, then there were no direct attacks on American troops. However in that time Iran was building its capabilities and also the militia groups which it supported raked havoc inthe region, so do you not see that as a problem? Is it fine that if American troops are not being targeted then it's not a problem? That is as we see now in the Red Sea something that can be sparked off at any point, so how do you make that calculation? and if I may ask  Neumann, if you could please answer a question about the concerns on the nuclear program of Iran while it's not directly related to the Red Sea, we're also seeing how some of these capabilities can change the equation in the region completely? 

The interviewer: thank you maybe we can have one more question and then bring it back to the panel if you don't mind, the gentleman I think you were asking,

thank you I'm Gan KS working for the Israeli newspaper Mar, and for the Press. I'm also aprofessor at Paris 8 University, I following you answer that your government is for a two State-Solution and following the optimism of secretary Blinkin today that an initiative of peace would be possible after resolving the Gaza problem. Would you join such an initiative and other Arab countries to recognize Israel and to have relations with Israel? Of course under the conditions of Palestinian problem solution.

The interviewer: and then before we bring it back to the panel, this young man, but if you could be brief please?

Thank you, this is Bashar Halby from Argus media. A quick question for the European representative in the room, I mean this is the first time, not the first time but we're hearing tougher rhetoric at least from your side towards Iran in general and regarding Security in the Red Sea,there's an operation for EU Naval Assets in around the Horn of Africa, it's called operation Atlanta which is responsible for the safety of the Horn of Africa. What's the future of this force? And will it be deployed in the Red Sea to counter Houthiattacks, for example?

The interviewer: so I would like Hannah Neumann to answer first, then the senator and then you, your Excellency, last question please.

Hannah Neumann: thank you so much and I start with the very concrete questions. So first of all the tougher language on Iran has been coming at least for me for quite a while, I would even say from the whole of the European Parliament, for quite a while and we are trying to push other actors of the European sphere in this direction with the mission. So there is indeed the mission at Atlanta and there was, some discussion when the Prosperity Guardian mission was launched, whether Atlanta could join and we made the decision that we will send a very special Mission only to contain theviolence in the Red Sea. It's called a speedis, Miss Weber has mentioned it and it will be operational I think in a week, to go with three frigates that arevery robustly armed to defend themselves and to defend the ships that they are guarding safely. On the nuclear program, here again I think everyone is very worried because we know that the capacity of Iran has been rising to develop a nuclear bomb and the JCPA which is the framework to which everyone in theory still holds on, is not working. 

The chief of IEA so who's observing all of that said it's an empty show,

Biden said not publicly that it's dead. The Iranian regime walked away twice; so we need to look for a new way and there is no way we can do that without the Gulf countries who feel most threatened of course if Iran is moving closer to the bomb.

The interviewer: So bring me to Senator Murphy, would you answer please the questions of Miss Alby?

Senator Murphy: Well with all due respect, the JCPA was working for its intended purposes before the Trump Administration cancelled the agreement. So I think it's important to understand how we got to the place we are today, listen theUnited States obviously has important interests in the Middle East but that does not mean every problem in the Middle East is a United States problem. I would argue that the question of whocontrols Yemen at least prior to the attacks against our shipping interests, was not a Core US National Security concern, not that we didn't have a stake in that. But we should not have been playing such an active role in the military campaign which ultimately did not help the people of Yemen in thelong run as to whether the JCPA solves all the problems in the region. Of course it does not right if we identified Core US concerns: one being stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon in the short run and two: protecting our forces. We also believed that by assembling this unprecedented Coalition which included not just Europe but the Chinese and the Russians around the implementation of the JCPA, we had an opportunity to use that Coalition to then attack the other malevolent behaviors of Iran in the region. Whether it be support for proxies or their ballistic missile program. We never got the opportunity to engage in that second set of work because president Trump pulled us out of the agreement, so no I don't overhype the impact of that agreement but I do stand by the fact that it was working for its intended purposes. It had an important de-escalatory impact and it had the potential to allow us to assemble and use a Coalition to try to ratchet down Iran's other bad behavior in the region.  

The interviewer: So the organizers say we have two more minutes, Dr Abdulaziz: can I just ask you one quick question and then I would like to give His Excellency the last word, but are you optimistic or pessimistic after what you’ve heard?What you’ve heard here and then I will, yeah, give you the last word to answer optimistic or not? 

Dr. Abdulaziz: Well, no I think there are three steps the US, they went through: deterrent,defensive and then offensive. The deterrent, Houthi did not listen to that and they felt you know they don't care about it and then they went to thedefensive, they were trying to respond to the attack that they received and the third step, they went for offensive, targeting the naval capability that was representing the threat, am I optimistic? or no? I don't think I'm optimistic as long as they have the means and the tools and the source of Supply remains, you know, there and remains floating to them. The interviewer: Your Excellency, there was a question whether you would recognize or join the Abraham Accords? Maybe you couldanswer that briefly and then tell us what you think of the whole conversation?

President Al Alimi: Thank you very much for the question. Firstly, we are a member state of the Arab League and the Arab League has unanimously adopted the Arab initiative to solve the Palestinian issue. We are committed in the Yemeni government to this Arab initiative, which we believe is the best way to resolve the Palestinian issue. This is with regard to the answer to the question, with regard to the final session, just half a minute, I agree that dealing with the Houthis requires three main issues: the first issue is the issues of attacks that are carried out, defensive operations and offensive operations, this may limit the capabilities of the Houthis.

 

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