Tuesday, 12 April 2011

‘Revolution’ or unsolved crisis in Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee/12/04/2011

The three Yemeni conflicting political groups are not clear enough over an American-backed and Saudi-led GCC plan to solve their crisis.

The President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his party (first group) accepted the GCC plan that wants him to hand over his powers to his deputy. Saleh says he does not mind to do that in a constitutional way.

The Islamist-led opposition (second group) wants to make sure the GCC plan means Saleh’s stepping down not only handing over or authorizing his deputy.

The protesters in the sit-in squares in Sana’a and other main cities like Taiz and Aden (third group), refuse dialogue, initiatives or plans, at all, until the whole regime is collapsed.

However, it seems that all groups need to gain regional and international support especially from Saudi Arabia and US.

No one wants to anger these two big and effective players in the current Yemeni crisis.

The opposition are betting on their young people in the street, who are, in their turn, betting on the security mistakes taken by the authorities to repress the protesters when they try to march forward and surround the important and vital buildings of the government such as the Presidential Palace whether in the capital Sana’a or other cities.

The President Saleh, who is known for his extraordinary skills in tireless maneuvering, seems to be betting on the time and the position of US and Saudi Arabia in particular. The big concern for both is Al Qaeda which will be the big winner if Yemen collapses into chaos.

“President Saleh still can take the right decision in the appropriate time, that will satisfy those two big players, Saudi Arabia and US,” said senior official close to Saleh on condition of anonymity.

US and Saudi Arabia want a peaceful and smooth transfer of power from Saleh to a balanced and diverse group that will make Yemen move in the direction of combating terrorism and not strengthening it.

And although the three groups have reservations over the GCC plan, the defected army general Ali Muhsen agreed on it and urged his new allies in the opposition not to miss such an “important chance”, the GCC plan which requires all parties to preserve stable and united Yemen and end all kind of retaliations, trials, or revenges between the now conflicting Yemenis.

The army of the defected general Ali Muhsen is controlling the protesters in the sit-in square in the capital Sana’a. They cannot march forward freely without a permit from general Muhsen’s troops.

The opposition and their protesters in the streets considered their revolution came to an end when general Muhsen declared his support for their “peaceful revolution” against his historical ally and his cousin, President Saleh last month.
Over the last 10 years, President Saleh started to groom his son, Ahmed, for presidency and ignored general Muhsen.

Ahmed is the commander of the republican guards and special forces which include the American-trained and supported –counterterrorism forces.

In an exceptional meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the GCC foreign ministers late Sunday April 10th, suggested that President Ali Abdullah Saleh should hand over his powers to his deputy, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and form a unity government chaired by the opposition for formulating a new constitution and conducting elections.

Mr. Hadi is from the south. This is the most important thing that will force all parties to agree on him for succeeding Saleh during the transitional period which will be about 3-6 months.

The Islamist- dominated protesters in the sit-in camps in the streets which have been demanding the ouster of President for more than 70 days now, have more different groups that look differently at the GCC plan and the post-Saleh Yemen.

In the sit-in camps, there are the supporters of Abdul Malik Al Houthi, the rebel leader who is now totally controlling the northern province of Sa’ada. And there are the southerners who want the south to take its natural role as a partner of unity after years of alleged political marginalization.

Hassan Zaid, the secretary general of the opposition Al Haq party, the party from which the slain rebel leader Hussein Al Houthi dissented, said the GCC initiative might be accepted only for preventing a possible war between the army of the republican guards of the son of President Saleh (Ahmed) and the central security of Yahya Saleh (nephew) and the army of the defected general Ali Muhen, the 1st armored division.

The capital Sana’a is divided into two parts, with each group of the spilt army controlling one of them.

“The GCC initiative was an agreement between President Saleh and general Ali Muhsen at the beginning,” said Hassan Zaid.

The independent political analyst, Ali Saif Hassan, chairman of the Political Development Forum, said the south should not be ignored in any deal reached by the conflicting parties.

Hassan, who is from the south, said it would be a disaster if President Saleh refused the GCC initiative, and also if he accepted it.

“Because it was a failed decision by the GCC ministers,” Hassan said.
“The initiative adopted the views of the opposition and ignored the ruling party and its supporters, and also it ignored the views of the independents and the young people in the streets,” He added.

The young people in the sit-in camps, the majority of them are controlled and organized by the Islamist party Islah, say they would continue their protests until the regime is collapsed.

“Any party that would claim representing us, would be illegal, no dialogue, no negotiation until the regime is collapsed,” said a statement by the young people in the sit-in camps responding to the GCC initiative in Sana’a Monday.
Abdullah Dawbalah, one of the protesters, expressed his fears of a civil war if this initiative fails.

“Those who agree on it are not representing everyone in Yemen, and those who refuse it also are not representing everyone, but the failure of this initiative means to me the war which will be a disaster to all,” Dawbalah said “ So, it must be accepted even if it would allow Saleh to stay without powers.”

Effective people from military and tribal and religious leaders also welcomed the GCC initiative.

The troika of symbols of the military, tribal and religious leaders here in Yemen: the defected general Ali Muhsen, and his friend and his tribal Shiekh, Sadeq Al Ahmar, and their friend cleric Abdul Majid Al Zandani welcomed the GCC initiative.

The three leaders previously declared their support for the popular peaceful revolution against the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“We were expecting this honored position from our brothers in the GCC,” said a statement from the general’s office on Monday.

For the ruling party, it said in a comment published on its website Monday, that the GCC initiative was almost the same previous statement of the Qatari prime minister which was considered as a flagrant intervention in Yemeni affairs.

Before the GCC ministers offered their plan, President Saleh on Friday April 8th, 2011, blasted the Qatari prime minister who said in a media statement that the GCC had a plan for Saleh to immediately step down.

“Our strength and legitimacy is from these millions not from Qatar and its Al Jazeerah, we refuse anything coming from them,” Saleh told more than million of his supporters in the Sabeen Square nearby his Presidential Palace after Friday sermons.

“We were born free, and brothers and friends must respect the feelings and the will of the Yemeni people who take to streets in millions to refuse the overthrow on democracy.”

The Qatari prime minister later his statement was not interference in Yemen’s affairs.

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