August 16, 2012 by Robert Sharp
The upcoming National Dialogue Conference is currently Yemen’s top national priority. Jamal Benomar, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, has rightly stated: “The success or failure of the national dialogue is likely to make or break Yemen’s transition.” Stakes are therefore very high amid widespread criticism that the national dialogue process has been exclusionary and opaque.
President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has started the process by establishing a 25-member Technical Committee that will report by the end of September in the hopes that the conference will commence in November 2012. It is good he has started the preparatory process now. He understands that pre-talks are necessary before the “big tent” event. Rushed, clumsy approaches risk overall failure. We believe that all interests and groups (including women, youth, Houthis, and Salafis, etc.) must be represented to air their grievances, though we sense that Yemen’s south holds the key to success for the national dialogue.