The Southern Challenge to Yemen’s National Dialogue

, and 08.16.12

The Southern Challenge to Yemen’s National Dialogue

, and 08.16.12
Mark GartenMark Garten

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.

We posit that southern disengagement from the national dialogue process would lead to more protests, more instability, and the very likely chance of another, potentially more dangerous, civil war, which we think ultimately poses a far greater threat to Yemen and regional stability than does Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Many Yemenis are already deeply frustrated by a host of dire socio-economic challenges that may be getting worse, despite the promise of a new government. Southern secessionism, in particular, is threatening Yemen’s already fragile unity and unlike AQAP, the southern movement has widespread support. The south has deep-seated grievances that made the civil war in 1994 inevitable.

Following the northern military victory, unity was essentially imposed upon the south. Under former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, the south was made to feel like the Communist “naughty son” who was being returned home for parental re-education. During those years, southerners were effectively excluded from decision-making processes. Military commanders, officers, and government employees were forcibly retired and excluded from leadership roles, state pensions were withheld, and any compensation provided was below subsistence levels. Southern lands, businesses and other resources were confiscated and given to northern elites.

Southern towns and infrastructure were neglected by Sana’a while poverty and unemployment continued to rise. Some southerners also blame the loss of a relatively “open culture” on their more conservative northern countrymen. Perhaps justifiably, many southerners consider themselves worse off as a result of unification. There is a strong perception that southern resources have been usurped by the north. Protests for change continue in the south, as does the heavy-handed government response, which resulted in four dead and twenty injured in Aden recently.

Despite clear divisions, the south can significantly contribute to the long-term well-being of the country in partnership with the north. There are many successful southern businessmen who can help Yemen on the road to recovery. Rebuilding and expanding the southern Port of Aden, in particular, could prove a huge boost to the economy. In addition to the absolutely vital tasks of writing a new constitution and army restructuring, a clear plan for reconciliation and better northern and southern integration must be articulated within the national dialogue process. Generally, we sense that federalism is supported by the majority of the south. A right of referendum to southerners for self-determination should be on the table. It is also recognized that the fragmented southern entities must work together to reach some level of unity through compromise before they jointly embark on the national dialogue process.

As part of the national dialogue and transition process, we recommended that: 1. Yemen’s leadership acknowledge and apologize for past abuses of the south and also to those who suffered in the north under the previous regime; 2. The north-south balance of power within the government be addressed constitutionally to reflect appropriate representation for all Yemeni entities; 3. A process for equitable north and south wealth-sharing be considered; 4. Compensation be considered for lands and wealth taken from the south; 5. Forced army retirees be called back and engaged in the new army; 6. The new constitution explicitly guarantee rights to all Yemenis, irrespective of where they live; 7. A de-centralized, federal system be examined, and; 8. Investment and development be provided proportionally equal to both north and south.

A new democratic Yemen that respects plurality and provides political, legal, and economic equality to all its citizens, and which adequately begins to address all grievances, is the only way forward. We conclude that the southern challenge is the single greatest threat today to Yemeni unity and thus must be handled with due diligence during the forthcoming national dialogue process.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the U.S. government, Department of Defense, National Defense University, the government of the Republic of Yemen, or Aden University.

15 comments
24 comments
.muhammad shresher
.muhammad shresher

it is a veryu well known fact that northern Yemenis want the current state of union to continue,but this is only because of thier livelihood and interests,if anyone is really looking for the real views of the Southerners then all of them want to see a quick end to the union and regain the independence of their country,please stop misrepresenting facts,there's nothing on the ground that indicates that people of South Yemen still are interested in remainig united with a land of the lawless.

.muhammad shresher
.muhammad shresher

it is a veryu well known fact that northern Yemenis want the current state of union to continue,but this is only because of thier livelihood and interests,if anyone is really looking for the real views of the Southerners then all of them want to see a quick end to the union and regain the independence of their country,please stop misrepresenting facts,there's nothing on the ground that indicates that people of South Yemen still are interested in remainig united with a land of the lawless.

Ahmd Salim
Ahmd Salim

There ate two problems , each one of them has unique solve . In Arab Yemen Rep.(AYR) the problem is the power conflict . In the Deomratic Yemen ( South) the problem is totally different , It's occupation . So there are tow way to solve the two problems . Dialogue within AYR , and Negotiation between AYR and ocuppied South to finish occupation crime .

Adnan Halboob
Adnan Halboob

bye the way, this's poinet of view. but areallity to the all people of south yemen need indpendence.

Hallboob
Hallboob

bye the way, this's poinet of view. but areallity to the all people of south yemen need indpendence.

shaia alsaddi
shaia alsaddi

The people of the south 'Freedom of the year 2007, and we appeal to you Humanism

We ask you to send correspondents to South Yemen and find out what is really happening there

There demanding free people recover hes state

There civilian population civilized moderate religious renounces terrorism and loves peace and respects the other two

shaia alsaddi
shaia alsaddi

The people of the south 'Freedom of the year 2007, and we appeal to you Humanism We ask you to send correspondents to South Yemen and find out what is really happening there There demanding free people recover hes state There civilian population civilized moderate religious renounces terrorism and loves peace and respects the other two

فدائي عدن
فدائي عدن

الشعب الجنوبي يطالب بفك الارتباط وأن هذا العهد هو في عاتق كل جنوبي أن حل القضيه الجنوبية هي فك الارتباط ولقد أثبت الشعب الجنوبي من المهره حتى باب المندب منادين بي أستقلاال الجنوب

فدائي عدن
فدائي عدن

الشعب الجنوبي يطالب بفك الارتباط وأن هذا العهد هو في عاتق كل جنوبي أن حل القضيه الجنوبية هي فك الارتباط ولقد أثبت الشعب الجنوبي من المهره حتى باب المندب منادين بي أستقلاال الجنوب

Najib Alhuraibi
Najib Alhuraibi

I've two things to say after my sharing deep thanks and gratitude for giving some attention to us, the southern.

1- We have a MAJOR trust issue with the northern that was developed through hard core exprience. One crucial learning that we got from the past 22 years of unification with the northern, we CAN'T trust them at all. You can't build any real partnership without a solid trust. We do NOT trust them.

2- I'm not sure how did you reach to the conclusion that the majority of us, the southern, are supporting the federalism!!! There is no evidence supporting this claim. We the southerns are the one who should decide our fate and destiny.

Najib Alhuraibi
Najib Alhuraibi

I've two things to say after my sharing deep thanks and gratitude for giving some attention to us, the southern. 1- We have a MAJOR trust issue with the northern that was developed through hard core exprience. One crucial learning that we got from the past 22 years of unification with the northern, we CAN'T trust them at all. You can't build any real partnership without a solid trust. We do NOT trust them. 2- I'm not sure how did you reach to the conclusion that the majority of us, the southern, are supporting the federalism!!! There is no evidence supporting this claim. We the southerns are the one who should decide our fate and destiny.

Alnoras alyafa'ay
Alnoras alyafa'ay

First of all, my great thanks to the

participants and their nice comments regarding the southern people

case.the southern people have been suffering unlawful killing, marginalisation, destruction

of their infrastructure, unlawful arrest and depression of all their

rights as citizens since the unfair war in 1994.this has led to a popular

uprising of all southern people demanding the re institution of

their sovereign state.Any try to solve the problem of southern people

regardless of southern people opinions will be a waste of time and and lead to

undesirable results.

Alnoras alyafa'ay
Alnoras alyafa'ay

First of all, my great thanks to the participants and their nice comments regarding the southern people case.the southern people have been suffering unlawful killing, marginalisation, destruction of their infrastructure, unlawful arrest and depression of all their rights as citizens since the unfair war in 1994.this has led to a popular uprising of all southern people demanding the re institution of their sovereign state.Any try to solve the problem of southern people regardless of southern people opinions will be a waste of time and and lead to undesirable results.

Rami Mohammed
Rami Mohammed

in support of the demands of the Organizing Committee of the southern Youth Popular Revolution:

Dear Distinguished Members of the United Nations,

The Democratic People's Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) entered into a cooperative Unification with the Arab Republic of Yemen (North Yemen) based on a 50-50% share in respect of all power structures on 22 of May 1990. The Southerners have given up the post of presidency, the capital, the currency and the flag for the sake of the Unity.

The management of the country has been running on tribal basis and on a very old traditional administrative and financial mechanism which north Yemen adopted for a very long time. The Former South Yemen was running on a highly advanced administrative and financial mechanism of the EX-British System. This was one of the basic problems that started between the two unified factions started the Unification and neither of them could accepted the other's system.

The Northerners refused to take up the ex- British financial and administrative system that had been used in the south as the best option for the Unified system.

No doubt the South Yemen, has lost, in this Unification, a lot of its achievements in terms of its basic infrastructure, including, education opportunities, employment, health and others. The Unification had been far away from the southern expectations as they lost all their basic rights in all aspects. Instead the corruption has run swiftly across all southern corporations and sectors as an impact of the rotten financial and administrative system of the north Yemen.

The Political Frictions and tension resulted among the southern and northern politicians continued for over the 3 years and ended in a strongly destructive war in 1994 that destroyed completely the whole southern capacities of all institutions and the infrastructure of basic sectors.

As a result of this unfair war the unification between the north and the south was practically ended and the south became under total occupation of the military leadership of the north. During this time, the South has become under looting and chaos by the northerners elite; and at the same time the southerners were left without any political authority at all within a forced and a highly amalgamated unification under one man rule.

Since then, the Southerners suffered serious unfair treatment in terms of all economic, educational and employment opportunities. Almost all senior posts in the South were filled by Northerners. The rate of unemployment in the South had risen to 60%. Scholarship to European and USA Countries were allocated only to Northerners.

Ironically, the state resources mainly come from the Southern OIL and Gas and other southern Income such as Aden Port and Aden Refinery. The national Budget composed of not less than 90% from the southern resources while all economic benefits go to the northern tribes and elite.

Dear Distinguished members of the Human Rights Committee,

The Southerners today appeal to you to help them in the followings:

1- To save our people and especially the children from daily killings by the barbarous military mechanism.

2- To send UN Envoy to investigate in the critical situation in Yemen whereby peaceful demonstrations are faced with forceful attacks from the military regime on the youths.

We therefore ask the UN Security Council, should ask the ICC to take action against the President and his family and to freeze all assets that have been bought by the national resources of the country.

Our call to you is based on the UN Charter and the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the international agreements, charters and covenants, and the statute of the International Criminal Court to stand on the side of the young males and females and The Democratic People's Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) to achieve their legitimate demands in change and establishing a civil, modern and democratic country

Rami Mohammed
Rami Mohammed

in support of the demands of the Organizing Committee of the southern Youth Popular Revolution: Dear Distinguished Members of the United Nations, The Democratic People's Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) entered into a cooperative Unification with the Arab Republic of Yemen (North Yemen) based on a 50-50% share in respect of all power structures on 22 of May 1990. The Southerners have given up the post of presidency, the capital, the currency and the flag for the sake of the Unity. The management of the country has been running on tribal basis and on a very old traditional administrative and financial mechanism which north Yemen adopted for a very long time. The Former South Yemen was running on a highly advanced administrative and financial mechanism of the EX-British System. This was one of the basic problems that started between the two unified factions started the Unification and neither of them could accepted the other's system. The Northerners refused to take up the ex- British financial and administrative system that had been used in the south as the best option for the Unified system. No doubt the South Yemen, has lost, in this Unification, a lot of its achievements in terms of its basic infrastructure, including, education opportunities, employment, health and others. The Unification had been far away from the southern expectations as they lost all their basic rights in all aspects. Instead the corruption has run swiftly across all southern corporations and sectors as an impact of the rotten financial and administrative system of the north Yemen. The Political Frictions and tension resulted among the southern and northern politicians continued for over the 3 years and ended in a strongly destructive war in 1994 that destroyed completely the whole southern capacities of all institutions and the infrastructure of basic sectors. As a result of this unfair war the unification between the north and the south was practically ended and the south became under total occupation of the military leadership of the north. During this time, the South has become under looting and chaos by the northerners elite; and at the same time the southerners were left without any political authority at all within a forced and a highly amalgamated unification under one man rule. Since then, the Southerners suffered serious unfair treatment in terms of all economic, educational and employment opportunities. Almost all senior posts in the South were filled by Northerners. The rate of unemployment in the South had risen to 60%. Scholarship to European and USA Countries were allocated only to Northerners. Ironically, the state resources mainly come from the Southern OIL and Gas and other southern Income such as Aden Port and Aden Refinery. The national Budget composed of not less than 90% from the southern resources while all economic benefits go to the northern tribes and elite. Dear Distinguished members of the Human Rights Committee, The Southerners today appeal to you to help them in the followings: 1- To save our people and especially the children from daily killings by the barbarous military mechanism. 2- To send UN Envoy to investigate in the critical situation in Yemen whereby peaceful demonstrations are faced with forceful attacks from the military regime on the youths. We therefore ask the UN Security Council, should ask the ICC to take action against the President and his family and to freeze all assets that have been bought by the national resources of the country. Our call to you is based on the UN Charter and the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the international agreements, charters and covenants, and the statute of the International Criminal Court to stand on the side of the young males and females and The Democratic People's Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) to achieve their legitimate demands in change and establishing a civil, modern and democratic country

E. Rollings
E. Rollings

I'm not Yemenese but the article gave me a great understanding of the many challenges it faces. Kudos to the author's.

Alkhadher Teenah
Alkhadher Teenah

Respected Authors, At the beginning I would like to thank u all for ur efforts in taking painful analysis regarding the so-called national dialogue. In fact, one point is missed here which is the trust. southerns do not trust northern any more and so the national dialogue will fail before it begins.

in your article you believe that federal system may be accepted by majority of the southern people. the question here is how do u build your conception without making even hints that such federalism may be refused by the south. The referendum of keeping unity or partition must be put in order to reach to the truth of what is going in Yemen and not to deprive the southerns of their rights.

It is ironical enough to ask the Yemen’s leadership acknowledge and apologize for past abuses of the south while they are still abuse and issue the religious fatwas against southerns as socialists deserve to die and not as Muslims of the same religion.

Alkhadher Teenah
Alkhadher Teenah

Respected Authors, At the beginning I would like to thank u all for ur efforts in taking painful analysis regarding the so-called national dialogue. In fact, one point is missed here which is the trust. southerns do not trust northern any more and so the national dialogue will fail before it begins. in your article you believe that federal system may be accepted by majority of the southern people. the question here is how do u build your conception without making even hints that such federalism may be refused by the south. The referendum of keeping unity or partition must be put in order to reach to the truth of what is going in Yemen and not to deprive the southerns of their rights. It is ironical enough to ask the Yemen’s leadership acknowledge and apologize for past abuses of the south while they are still abuse and issue the religious fatwas against southerns as socialists deserve to die and not as Muslims of the same religion.

Bassam Othman
Bassam Othman

Dear Authors.. first I would like to thank you for the above efforts of analysis covering the the obstacles facing the national Yemeni dialogue .. Regarding the recommendations that have been discussed in your essay .. I beleive that the following points must be considered : 1- Southerns are the only side who has the right to accept being in the dialogue or not ... 2- All of the options asked by southerns must be considered including the referendum and other options .. 3- Those tips mentioned above must be delivered to the official leadership of south which represents the majority of southerns to discuess and add what needed for southerns to accept the participation in the dialogue . 4- I beleive that we as southerns will be more close to sitting in one table with northerns if provided to us international guarantees by the international society ( international Security councel . United nations and so on.. Bassam Othman

Joe
Joe

Thank you for a very clear analysis

Joe

Joe
Joe

Thank you for a very clear analysis Joe

mohamed nasser albakhishi
mohamed nasser albakhishi

اهل مكه ادرى بشعابها . امثال هذه المراكز ياخذو تحليلاتهم من مكاتب مكيفه درن ان يكلفوا انفسهم النزول الى الساحات ومعرفة راى المواطن for me as a southern citizen. nothing better than the indepindance . freedom for southern , freedom for our new generation , our sons to grow up with a peace and a pure enviromental without fatawees of shiks zandani dailami blablabla

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