Interview with Nasser al-Nuba
Brigadier General Nasser al-Nuba is the head of the Retired Military Consultive Association (MCA) in Aden and the southern governorates. The MCA under General al-Nuba organized demonstrations in South Yemen beginning in July 2007 to demand equal rights for military retirees and southerners in general. As the year long demonstrations began to swell to include hundreds of thousands, demonstrators were met with an increasingly repressive response on the part of security forces. Over twenty protesters were shot dead, hundreds severely beaten and over a thousand arrested.
On September 2, 2007, security forces in Aden assaulted Mr. al-Nuba’s house. They broke down the door and arrested him. On September 8, al-Nuba was transferred from Aden to Sana’a for trial in a military court. He faced the death penalty on charges of treason for calling the unified Yemeni state an illegal creation. Mr. Nuba’s arrest triggered new widespread protests. He was released from custody on November 29th, 2007 by presidential decree.
In an interview with Jane Novak, December 7, 2008, Mr. Nuba said the following:
“South Yemen, when it achieves its independence, will be a country of peace and stability, relying on the constitution and the impartial application of the law. We look forward to joining the community of nations as a modern state, and we will work with our neighbors and the international community to create stability in the region. We will cooperate with international forces in the Gulf of Aden and with international efforts on the issue of terrorism. South Yemen will open its economy to investment and expansion. We hope to soon take our rightful place among nations.”
Q: What is your relation with the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), the alliance of opposition political parties?
Nuba: The JMP is the opposition to the regime, and they believe in a federalist solution to Yemen’s problems. This is their right to make these demands.
We are not part of this opposition. The MCA has no relation to the Yemeni Socialist Party or the JMP. We reject the federalist model as a solution able to resolve the injustices pervasive in South Yemen. The MCA recognizes the only solution for South Yemen is independence and to return to two legal states.
There are two UN Resolutions (924 and 931) governing the cessation of hostilities at the end of the civil war in Yemen. We expect to receive international recognition of the fact that Saleh violated those resolutions and imposed “unity” by force. We are an occupied country. The unified Yemeni state is itself an illegal entity according to international law.
Q: There are some good people and activists in the North. What conditions need to exist before you and the MCA would join with them for a national movement?
Nuba: Yes, it’s true there are some good people in the north. They are working to deal with their problems of Saleh themselves. Once we in the South have achieved our independence, then we would support them later in their quest for justice for themselves.
Q: So the answer is no, there are no conditions under which the MCA would join in a national movement for reform?
Nuba: Correct. For years we in the south were suffering and everyone knows this and no one said a word.
Q: What is the MCA’s relation with former leaders and expatriates abroad?
Nuba: We have no formal or political relation with them. We have cordial relations and contacts with many people, but our movement is an internal movement entirely. The MCA is an independence movement by the people of South Yemen in South Yemen.
Q: What is your relation with the Southern Liberation Council?
Nuba: The SLC has the same ideology and goals as we have, which is the liberation of South Yemen from the illegal unification with the North. Our group, The Military Consultive Association, is comprised of the military and civilian (illegally) retired, the youth, women and others. We organized the public demonstrations since July 2007 throughout the southern governorates.
Q: Are there conditions under which you would negotiate with the regime?
Nuba: Saleh said on November 29th that he was ready to sit for negotiations. We replied that we would enter discussions based on two conditions: 1) if Saleh accepts to discuss the subject of southern independence 2) if he withdraws all northern military forces from South Yemen.
I listed these conditions by email. If these conditions are met, then we would agree to negotiations.
Q: Thank you for this interview.
Nuba: You’re welcome and with my regards for your effort on behalf of the people of South Yemen.