Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Separation of South in Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Aden Port / AFP/Archives

In Yemen, there are two political parties who are trying to seize opportunities during the Yemeni crisis: Brotherhood and secessionists. Both are fighting via proxies and depend on others to fight on their behalf. They are allies despite the enmity and media wars.

Muslim Brotherhood believes the separation of the South is acceptable since it will provide a better chance to dominate the political arena in the North, knowing that rebels are weary of the war with Houthis and former President Ali Abdallah Saleh’s party.

Southern secessionists also believe that separating from the North is better for them. It reduces area and population and enhances their chances in governing Aden.

A while ago, I wrote against the separation to which I received several emotional responses protesting my opinion which I don’t find convincing, with all due respect to those who disagree with me.

First of all, separation is a project of political change and achieving it is more difficult than the coup. In principle, a region’s separation from its original state is not achieved unless its citizens decided so, even if it came with consensus. Otherwise, many countries in the world would have been dismantled. There is an international law which rules those things.

Practically, Kurdistan separated from Iraq in 1990, prior to the liberation of Kuwait. Even after 27 years have passed, they are still waiting international recognition. We can’t forget that Kurds are people with their own language, flag, and parliament that distinguish them from Iraq.

Another example is Somalia. For over 20 years, the country has been in disunion with stable sub-states each with its own jurisdiction, flag and currency, and yet they hadn’t been recognized.

Even Scotland which threatens about separating from the UK can’t do it without the consent and approval of London.

There are dozens of separation requests around the world presented by regions that couldn’t succeed in achieving independence because the international system won’t recognize it even if they succeeded.

Surely, the southern separatists can achieve their separation when a suitable circumstance arise and not amid the absence of a state because of the war, as the case is now.

When the situation is settled and a permanent government is chosen or a legitimate elected parliament, then a separation can be legal if Yemenis of both sides agree.

This was the case in Sudan where the government of Bashir accepted the separation of the South under international sponsorship.

It is noticeable that the southern separatists ignore those facts in their statements. They even refer to it as “post-independence.”

The South has its own problems that were developed during Saleh’s regime and there are several parties fighting over the power. There are no guarantees that the South will be stable once it gets separated from the country. It might even open the door to more conflicts. Like the North, there are several rival tribes and local leaders who disagree with one another in the South.

There is no doubt that the majority of people of the South actually want the separation, even since Saleh’s ruling.

The unity was imposed via a coalition between the defeated Southern party’s alliances with Ali Saleh’s regime in the North. Their tragedy began with a conspiracy and ended with a charade called unity. Saleh impoverished the South, just as he did with the North.

Yet, Southern people shouldn’t rush into celebrating the separation because it is ruled by the international laws and not the will of Aden.

When the situations stabilize in Yemen, and in case the separation was not an option, there are other choices just as good with wide administrative independence like the federal or even the con-federal systems.