Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘President Ali Abdullah Saleh

 What’s happening in Yemen? Are youth set to win in the longer-term?

You may read one of my many articles on Yemen and its geopolitical and social structure

The British daily The Guardian published an article, translated from an Arabic version, this Thu 12 May 2011 titled “The youth will win in Yemen”.  It says (with slight editing from my part):

“We will complete our revolution and oust President Saleh, with or without international support. Young Yemenis can no longer contain their desire to become a real part of the world.
yemen youth revolution saleh

Photograph: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images, Wasim Alqershi

Yemen is a fertile land with beaches that stretch for more than 1,700km (same beach stretch as Libya?) In an age of extraordinary medical advances, the greatest hope of 24 million Yemenis (as populated as Syria?) is that their children are not crippled by polio.  

It is also a country in which more than 10 million people are threatened by starvation: Thousands spend their lives sneaking into neighbouring countries in search of better opportunities, and where children are violated in forced labour markets.  Many still dream of travelling by car rather than donkey. In an age of Facebook and Twitter, many Yemenis simply wish they could read a letter from a loved one (see note).

That is why the Yemeni revolution was formulated in the minds of the young long before it broke out on the ground. A failing economy and a deteriorating security situation, together with spiralling corruption, simply amplified most Yemeni people’s daily experience of poverty, ignorance and disease.
The people’s aspirations for something better were transformed into a crisis when President Ali Abdullah Saleh sought to extend his rule beyond 40 years and to bequeath Yemen – as if the country was one of his possessions – to his son. Young Yemenis could no longer contain their desire to become a real part of the world.
We took to the streets – unarmed in a country where the people own more than 60 million guns. What we wanted was a modern civil State in Yemen. When we saw the success of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, our determination to topple the Yemeni regime was heightened. Students from the University of Sana’a went out on to the streets raising placards which called, for the first time, for the overthrow of the regime. One hour after the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, thousands of youths in the city of Taiz came out to celebrate, and to announce the start of the Yemeni revolution.
On 21 February, the opposition parties joined in: It became clear that Saleh had lost all popular legitimacy and was now being propped up only by tribe, the army, vested economic interests and the international community. We knew that if he was to fall, these elements must be overcome. First, the tribes joined the revolution: the Hashid and Bakil, the largest ethnic groups in Yemen, followed by all the others.
In revenge, Saleh sent republican guard snipers to Sana’a, killing at least 45 and wounding hundreds. This bloody Friday shook the conscience of the nation. Those murdered youths had gone out into the streets carrying only their beautiful dreams, and had ended up being carried on the shoulders of others.  The killings persuaded many in the army’s leadership to declare their support for the revolution, and many in Yemen’s administrative and diplomatic bodies resigned.
Saleh then said he would step down. We knew this was a lie. He continued to exert control over the republican guard, which is  led by his son, and the central security led by his nephew, and the air force led by his brother. The young people decided to escalate the protest, staging marches and sending a message about our ability to access the presidential palace.
Saleh sensed the imminence of his downfall and began to hint that he would provoke a war that would have a disastrous impact not only on Yemen but on the entire region. This led to the Arabic Gulf States’ initiative, to broker a transfer of power from Saleh to his opponents. This initiative had US support and has become Saleh’s last source of legitimacy.
However, the youth movement rejected it – partly because, under the initiative’s terms, Saleh’s departure would not be immediate, but would take place a month after the agreement was signed. Saleh has previously broken agreements after just two days, so what would he do if given a month?  The initiative also guaranteed that Saleh and his government would not be tried. This would be a betrayal of the blood of our martyrs, and of the Yemeni people who need to recover their looted wealth to rebuild their country.
In addition, the initiative required that power be transferred to Saleh’s deputy until presidential elections could be held. We feared that a new regime could emerge from the old – different faces, but the same corruption. We demanded a regime built on a true balance of national forces, with the authority and legitimacy to ensure political and media freedoms, respect for human rights, and an independent judiciary.
The Gulf initiative had also stipulated that that the protests should be suspended, but we plan to maintain the sit-ins until the objectives of the revolution have been achieved.  The Gulf initiative presents a way out for the regime, prolonging its life and stirring up disagreement between the youth and the opposition parties – who agreed to the initiative under pressure from the international community and to “stop the bloodshed”.
Our young people have decided to escalate civil disobedience until Saleh’s regime is overthrown. It remains for the international community to realise that the youth will complete their revolution with or without international support.  However, the withdrawal of international legitimacy from Saleh would achieve two things: First, it would stop Saleh from killing any more young people; and second, it would reinforce the values of freedom, justice, equality and democracy for which we are struggling.
The youth of the revolution realise that once their civil State is born, it will form part of the wider world. The more the revolution is supported today by the international community, the more that will motivate the youth to become a positive international partner when that day comes”.
The British daily The Guardian wrote in its front page: “After 8 months, the Capital Sanaa is witnessing mass killing to the opposition forces. A third of the people in Yemen are suffering from hunger according to a report sent to Oxfam agency.  And yet, the US is focusing on targeting Al Qaeda bases with drones in south Yemen.  Saudi Arabia’s best interest is preserving the administrative structure intact, otherwise this absolute monarchy might have to confront long-term instability on its borders with Yemen.
In the short-term, the Arab Gulf alternative might be established because Yemen is very poor and need all the funds that are available, but what the youth wish should be sustained with samll donations by the Arab youth movements.
Note 1: It appears that the people in south Yemen have a tendency to extreme positions. Before the unification with north Yemen, south Yemen was a communist-Marxist regime.  How come extremist Sunni ideology made such a vigorous entrance in south Yemen? 
Note 2: One of the many jokes on Yemen is this one.  The Prophet Muhammad came back and saw the Arabic Peninsula.  Things have drastically changed in matter of construction and life-style, but Yemen was the most familiar place: Nothing changed there in the last 1,400 years.

Updates on Yemen: What may change after President Saleh?

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been grievously injured and underwent surgery in Saudi Arabia.  The Presidential Palace was shelled by the troops allied to the tribal leader of Al Ahmar.  Many high ranking officials died.  The US is claiming that the serious injuries of “Preisdent” Saleh were due to a planted bomb in the Palace. 

I read pieces of information by the Lebanese journalist Amine Kamourieh that Saudi monarchy has been paying monthly stipend to 7,000 tribal and clan leaders in Yemen, for over 40 years.

The tribal leader Cheick Sanan Abu Luhoum devulged these information in his diary.  In the 60’s Egyptian troops of Gamal Abdel Nasser were in South Yemen fighting the religious Imam in Sanaa, who was supported by the Saudi monarchy.  The Republican Yemenite tribal leaders met in Saudi Arabia for negotiation:  They didn’t want to lose the monthly stipends, but had to insist on a Republican State in Yemen.  They got what they wanted.

The Yemenite tribe of Hashed was in charge of distributing the stipends to the other leaders and their clans.  For example, no President in Yemen can be elected without the explicit approval of the Saudi monarchy.

The interesting story is that the Republican Yemeni tribal leaders in the 60’s had a single condition to receiving the monthly stipend:  That Saudi Arabia forgets to have a religious leader or Imam ruling Yemen.  Most other Saudi constraints would be negotiable.  That is how Yemen survived as a “Republic” and south and north Yemen States got united in the mid 80’s under the leadership of President Saleh.

President Saleh committed the unforgivable blunder and ultimate political mistake of militarily attacking the most powerful tribe (in this case the Al Ahmar tribal leader) that distributed the stipends to the other tribal leaders.

It is not probable that President Saleh is to return to Yemen, but what kind of transitional government can Yemen expect?  What may change after President Saleh?

The way money are distributed, if the youth movement for change in Yemen is not able to generate liquidity from sources of States (other than Saudi Arabia) to bribe the tribal leaders to siding with a true Republican regime, the trend would be to continue as it functioned for 30 years.  Mainly, the next president will be from the Tribe of Hashed and the same entourage of oligarchy maintained in place.

President Saleh tried in the last two weeks to ignite a civil war: He delivered the city of Zanzibar in south Yemen to Al Qaeda followers, and committed massacres in the city of Taez.  One think is obvious:  The people in South Yemen will demand a self-autonomous governance with substantial budget allocated, while the tribal leaders in North Yemen will continue to receive their monthly stipend from Saudi Arabia.  The transition government has the task of not driving Yemen to another Somalia-type anarchy:  Mind you that Yemen is the closest to the pirates of Somalia, blackmailing cargo ship on the high sea.

Can the more than 4-month mass uprising in Yemen, which harvested so many people and injured thousands, allow the same political game to be replayed? The upheaval has reached every city and town.

The people do not care was this President wishes or wants. Today, the people have said: “Enough is enough”.  Ministers and ambassadors are resigning in protests.

On November 6, 2009, I published a post “There is a devastating civil war in Yemen: Is it of any concern to the UN?”.

The UN did it again!  Civil wars in non oil-producing Arab States are left to run its natural steam until the State is bankrupt and ready to be picked up at salvage price. The UN tends to get busy for years in collateral world problems when civil wars strike Arab States.

Occasionally, the UN demonstrates lukewarm attempts for a resolution in oil-producing States as long as it is under control.  Lebanon experienced 17 years of civil war.  Morocco still has a civil war in south Sahara for three decades.  Sudan has been suffering of a rampant civil war for four decades.  Algeria is experiencing a resurgence of a devastating civil war that started in 1990 because Europe refused to accept a democratically elected Islamic majority in the parliament.  Iraq was totally neglected while Saddam Hussein was decimating the Shiaas and Kurds in Iraq for three decades.

Even after the US coalition forced the Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, the UN instituted an embargo that killed 2 million Iraqi babies for lack of milk and needed medicines.  Somalia never got out of its miseries for four decades so far.  Mauritania is rope jumping from one military coup to another. The other Arab States are in constant low-level civil wars overshadowed by dictators, one party, oligarchic, and absolute monarchic regimes.

A week ago, a few trucks were allowed to cross Saudi borders carrying tents and necessary medicines to stem generalized diseases where hundred thousands of Yemeni refugees huddled in refugee camps on the high plateau of North-West Yemen, by the borders with Saudi Arabia, which closed its borders and chased out any “infiltration” of refugees.

The most disheartening feeling is that you don’t see field reporting of this civil war by the western media.  The written accounts are from second-hand sources and decades old. They abridge the problem by stating it is a tribal matter. They feel comfortable blaming Iran; and you wonder: “how this land-locked region in North-West Yemen can be supplied by Iran?”  Blaming Iran for every social uprising in the Gulf States needs to be clarified.

The western media is easily convinced that Al Qaeda moved from Saudi Arabia and was ordered to infiltrate the Somali refugee camps in South Yemen.  Question: How Sunni Moslem Al Qaeda members got to be located in a region of North West Yemen with Shiaa Yazdi population?   Is that question totally irrelevant?

The population of North-West Yemen forms the third of the total; the “citizens” are of the Yezdi Shiia sect that agrees to seven Imams and not 12 as in Iran; the Yazdi sect does not care that much about the coming of a “hidden” Mahdi to unite and save Islam.  The western media want you to believe that this war, which effectively started in 2004, is a power succession problem to prevent the son of current President Abdallah Saleh from inheriting the power. Actually Saleh’s son is the head of the Presidential Guard which has been recently involved in the war after the regular army failed to bring a clear-cut victory in this “civil war”.

Yemen was a backward States even in the 60′s.  South Yemen had a Marxist regime backed by the Egyptian troops of Jamal Abdel Nasser; it was against North Yemen ruled by an ancient Yazdi Imam; a hereditary regime labeled the “Royalists” and backed by Saudi Arabia.

After the Soviet Union disintegrated, Yemen unified in 1990.  Since then, South Yemen and North West Yemen were deprived of the central State financial and economic distribution of wealth.  President Saleh could present the image of a “progressist” leader as long as Yemen was out of the screen and nobody cared about this bankrupt State.

Yemen is on the verge of being divided into three separate autonomous States, the South, North West, and Sanaa the Capital.  The problems in the Horn of Africa have migrated its endemic instability into Yemen: refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been flocking into the southern shores of Yemen.  Heavy influx of contraband products are keeping the people of these two regions precariously afloat.

The deal between Hillary Clinton and Israel foreign affairs Levny to patrol the Indian Ocean was not just meant for Gaza, but mainly to supporting President Saleh for his 2009 military campaign against the rebels in North Yemen by monitoring contraband arms shipments.

Saudi Arabia, during the duo power brokers of Prince Sultan and Neyef (respectively Ministers of Defense and the Interior) did their best to destabilize Yemen on account of fighting the spread of the Shiaa sect in the Arabic Peninsula. Yemen has no natural resources to count on and the population is addicted to “Qat” that they chew on, at lunch time for hours.

Yemen was the most prosperous region in the Arabic Peninsula for millennia; land caravans started from Taez and then passed by Maareb from which town the caravans split to either Mecca (then to Aqaba and Syria) or took the direction to Persia and Iraq.  All kinds of perfume, seasoning, and textile landed by sea from India and South East Asia; incense was produced from a special tree grown in Yemen and Hadramout.

The British colonial Empire didn’t care about this region; all that it wanted to secure were sea ports for commerce and to defend the entrances of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea to Egypt.

The UN is inheriting the same lax attitude of the British Empire; as long as the US bases are secured in this region then the hell with the people. Qatar arranged for reconciliation in 2007 and Saudi Arabia interfered to fail it.  The disseminated propaganda is of “Archaic tribes fighting one another wearing daggers as symbol of manhood are all that there is in Yemen”.

Saudi Arabia is involved in this war and using its airforce to stem the “rebel hawthees”; it blocked the satellites in the Arab world that cover this civil war.  Is CNN willing to come to the rescue for the world communities to get coverage of the mass massacres going on in this poor country?

This post sounds so current in its content that I cannot but wonder:  Have the western nations understood anything about the current “Arab” mass upheavals?  Is Libya to be implicitly redivided among the previous colonial powers?  Are the absolute monarchs in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and the Arab Gulf States to retain their powers?  Hell no; not this time around.  Enough indignity and humiliation!




September 2022

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