In a report published earlier this week in al-Jazeera, Aref Abu Hatem, a political analyst, looked at Yemen’s current political predicament as the old and the new battle for power, both entities intent on claiming Yemen’s future for its own. Rather than foretell Yemen’s unravelling and pending doom, Hatem looks at Yemen’s political equation as the last revolutionary convulsion.
He explained how former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s political battle against UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar will only delay the inevitable: Yemen’s victory over nepotism and the birth of a modern civil state. He wrote, “The ever-protracted political battle which opposed former President Saleh and Benomar will not fail the National Dialogue Conference … it will only require all participants to exert more efforts in finding a democratic common ground.”
Putting his finger on Yemen’s biggest controversy, Hatem warns that faced with such levels of state corruption and systematic mis-management, Yemen faces two choices: the people could chose to exert their revenge on the old regime by dragging all actors and players to court, thus quenching their thirst for justice, or the nation could chose to heal its wounds by forgiving its former leaders against the assurances the old guard will completely and unconditionally retire from political life, making room for Yemen’s next generation of politicians.
Only where do you start in a country such as Yemen where every nook and cranny have been corrupted, rotten to the core? How can a country move on and build sound foundations when its main players have contributed to the corrosion of the state in the first place.
Because former President Saleh has allowed corruption to grab hold of Yemen at all levels, as cancer would on healthy cells, building trust and good governance reflexes will prove tricky and complicated.
Hatem notes in his report that it is because former President Saleh seeks to secure its political legacy and secure his family’s heritage that he has been so bent on derailing the NDC and democratic reforms. So far, chaos has been Saleh’s best line of defence.
“The old regime has been pernicious, most public servant’s hands have been tainted,” wrote Hatem.
He went on saying, “The former president a long history of political stubbornness … He does one thing and its opposite at the same time … This is what makes him insist on both being granted immunity and being allowed to remain in politics.”
But after months of political wrangling Yemen stands at an important crossroads.
All parties are acutely aware of the fact that should the NDC fail to find a compromise the country could see revolutionaries return to the streets. And as with every revolution, no power or faction will be able to control or foretell which direction such an uprising will lead to. By definition chaotic, another uprising could see the arrival onto the scene of unforeseen powers and factions, something western and regional powers are not willing to allow.
Opening up Yemen to the unknown is certainly not an eventuality the GCC, the US and the EU are prepared to tolerate.
Yemen has one last opportunity to salvage its ailing institutions and reinvent a modern civil state or face chaos. Either, Benomar and the General People’s Congress manage to set aside their differences by facing a few hard realities or Yemen will head to a brick wall.
Only the NDC warned Hatem can save Yemen at this stage.
Hatem further warned against Yemen’s recent wave of violence, noting that the frequency of kidnappings and assassinations are the mere symptoms of the country’s inner battle for control as factions have taken to covert operations to carry blows to their enemies and forward their agendas.
And indeed several security experts have warned that elements within Yemen would try to play terror and insecurity to derail the NDC and prevent the impoverished nation from resuming its transition of power.
If factions did indeed supported revolutionary in their opposition to Saleh’s rule, many do not wish to see their power diminished as Yemen takes its next step toward democracy. For many 2011 uprising should have only marked the end of Saleh and the subsequent rise, not the arrival onto the scene of new powers.
A country with endless prospects and opportunities Yemen should never have had to suffer through so much poverty and institutional decay. Two years after 2011 uprising, Yemenis have now the opportunity to set things right and move together toward a brighter future.