Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Dialogue or war in Yemen?

By Nasser Arrabyee,16/10/2012

On November 15, 2012, all l Yemeni groups are supposed to sit for national dialogue about their new future, after two years of violent conflicts. 

If successful, the dialogue will  come out with a new order and state in which all rights and freedoms are guaranteed for everyone. But if dialogue is failed, a civil war is the most likely alternative to happen according to many indicators.

The expected state of law and order is supposed to start functioning by conducting presidential elections in February 2014,  according a new constitution approved by the national dialogue. 

As there are a number of challenges that might lead to failure of this dialogue, there are also a numbers of opportunities that might lead to its success. 

Among others, the first and foremost challenge is the issue of the south, locally known as Hirak, the southern separatist movement. The rebellious movement of Shiite Houthi in the north of the north is the second challenge of the coming dialogue.  The allegations that Al Houthi is receiving support from Iran makes it even more difficult to convince this group. Al Qaeda activity and its continuous  attempts to thwart any political success and return the country back to insecurity and chaos is also among the challenges. 

However, almost all parties and politicians in Yemen say if the south issue, Hirak, is solved, all other issues can be solved easily. 

"It's impossible to have a successful dialogue without the participation of Hirak," said Dr Abdul Kareem Al Eryani head of the technical committee for preparing for the dialogue. 

Al Eryani was talking in an event organized and financed by the American National Democratic Institute ( NDI) in the Yemeni capital Sanaaa on Tuesday October 16, 2012. The event, called the Council of City, the first of many similar events that aimed to help Yemenis to react with the coming dialogue. 

Al Eryani is the deputy chairman of the People's General Congress, PGC, party that was ruling before and during protests of 2011. And now  50 per cent of the ministers of the national unity government are from this party, PGC that is presided over by the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

On his part, Mohammed Qahtan,leading and prominent member of the Islamist party, Islah said," to bring the dialogue to success, the problems of the south should be solved." 

Qahtan's party is  dominating the political coalition that led the protests against Saleh and his party PGC last year. The coalition, locally known as Joint Meeting Parties (JMPs), includes the Socialist party that was ruling the south before unity in 1990, and Arab nationalists (Nasserites), and  Ba'ath party, and two small Islamist parties.

The majority of southerners have been complaining from being politically and socially marginalized since after the civil war of 1994 that erupted less than four years after the unity between south and north. 

"To have a successful dialogue, the President should issue decrees to solve the problems of the lands and retirees," said Qahtan referring to the lands in the south that were unfairly taken by northern officials, and to southern officials who were forced to retire after the war of 1994.

The activist Afra Al Hariri, from the south, however, said that the problems of the south remained unchanged even after the new President came to power. The new President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi is from the south. Ms Al Hariri, who was participating in the even of Council of City, said nothing changed at all after Hadi came to power. 

" Insecurity, exclusion, marginalization, absence of  equal citizenship, and the same faces are still there being repeated," Al Hariri said. 

To make the dialogue successful,the  south should be fairly represented and to do that there should be immediate steps for  solving the problems of the south. Ms Al Hariri said two things at least should happen before the dialogue.

"The tribal speeches against the south should stop, and Fatwas, (religious decrees), should stop," said Ms Al Hariri, referring to two main things that abused and angered the southerners the most. 

The first thing was a Fatwa from a religious leader from  the Islamist party Islah,(Yemen brotherhood), during the war of 1994, from the north said that socialist southerners are Kafirs ( infidels). The second thing took place earlier this month when a tribal leader also from the north said he would lead a war against southerners who would not participate in the dialogue. Both statements were widely condemned by majority of people in the south and north. 

For opportunities of success of dialogue,  the most important one, among others, is the international and regional  support for the dialogue. The security and stability of Yemen is important not only for Yemen but also for the region and the international community. The most dangerous branch of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is still taking advantage of the chaos and unrest that Yemen is still witnessing. 

Last week in the Yemeni capital Sanaa,  two  masked gun men from Al Qaeda  riding a motorcycle shot dead a Yemeni officer working at the American embassy in Yemen as a security coordinator between the Americans and the government.  The killed Kasem Aklan was investigating into who was behind the violence against the US embassy on September 13, 2012, after publishing an American film abusive to Islam. 

Later in the week, three   headless  bodies of security soldiers were found nearby  a check point at the entrance of Mareb city in eastern of Yemen.

The local sources said that Al Qaeda operatives kidnapped the three soldiers  from the same check point and returned them hours later after cutting their heads.

In the same city of Mareb in the same week, Al Qaeda beheaded three men and threw their bodies in three different streets of the city. Al Qaeda said the three men were spying for Yemeni intelligence and posing as Jihadists with Al Qaeda.

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