Although world leaders were keen to hail Yemen’s NDC final resolution a “historical breakthrough” and a statement to Yemenis’ dedication and commitment to a peaceful resolution to their political conundrum, the country has yet to overcome a series of hurdle which still threatens its very core.
After 10 months of protracted negotiations, Yemen has yet to address some of its most contentious issues, namely, transitional justice, the southern issue and sectarian tensions in its highlands, notwithstanding hunger and poverty.
Despite much political noise, many analysts have warned that Yemen’s NDC was actually a non-starter, especially since the country’s deep state, the power class, remained as reluctant to concede their political and financial privileges as ever.
As per noted by non-other than former President Ali Abdullah saleh himself in an interview early last week, “Yemen’s former regime is very much alive in today’s government … safe form a few new faces here and there the same officials govern and lead Yemen.” Responding to questions regarding Yemen’s transition of power, the veteran politician stressed that since the narrative of power had not change, reforms would only be superficial and cosmetic.
In essence Yemen’s former president re-affirmed what many political activists have warned against: through the survival of the country’s old political class, Yemen’s hopes for a fresh start might be short lived.
Yet, President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi remains decisively positive, determined as it were to manoeuvre the country through its last metamorphosis before welcoming Yemen’s next democratically elected president.
However, the impoverished nation might have to wait a while before returning to the pole since President Hadi’s mandate extension is directly tied up with his ability to successfully complete the country’s transition of power. When and only when Yemen will have agreed and signed on a new constitution as well as agreed on its federal make up will President Hadi be in the position to relinquish power. Given Yemen’s track record in keeping times, the polling station stands a long way away.
As per written by Danya Greenfield from the Atlantic Council, “While the conference has been hailed a success by its internal leadership and some external financial sponsors, it concludes without firm plans for a future government beyond general ideas of federalized parliamentary rule. As a result, there is good reason to view the NDC's closing ceremony as a non-conclusion, or at best, only a partial conclusion.”
Post-NDC Yemen has yet to tackle a multitude of over-lapping social and economic issues: food insecurity, displacement due to conflicts, high unemployment levels, poor state amenities, only to name a few.
Now that the sounds of celebratory fireworks has quieten down, President Hadi has yet to find enough political traction to impose his government’s will and restore a modicum of order, at least enough to implement some meaningful reforms, as to generate a positive momentum.
Ever dark clouds over the republic, secessionists have not yet abandoned their crusade for the reinstatement of South Yemen as a sovereign and independent state. Although, President Hadi made clear, with the backing of the international community that fragmentation would never constitute a viable option, Harakis wasted no time in returning to the offensive through popular protests, only days after the NDC closing ceremony.
Despite an NDC resolution provisioning for the formation of a special federal committee, in charge of negotiating Yemen’s future federal make up by defining its regions, and the strict promise the southern dossier will be addressed fairly in accordance with democratic principles, Harakis (southern secessionists) persist in their mistrust and opposition.
In the north, the Houthis (Shiite group organized under the political denomination, Ansar Allah) made headlines when their leaders chose to withdraw from the NDC days before the closing ceremony; a move, which while purely symbolic (since all decisions had already been taken) underscored deep political dissensions within the country’s various factions.
Enthralled in a battle for control over Yemen highlands against the Salafis (Sunni ultra-orthodox), the Houthis have accused the coalition government of running a campaign against its leadership as to promote Salafis so-called sectarian agenda.
While Sana’a has maintained it remained an impartial party in the Houthis/Salafis conflict, decades of brewing sectarian-fuelled resentment and feelings of oppression on the part of the Houthis will only lead to further tensions and possibly another armed confrontation, should the matter remained unresolved politically.
With just as many problems as it started with almost a year ago. Yemen, as noted by President Hadi in a comment made to the press last week, “remains at a critical stage.”