Hamas Dissolves its Government Amid Challenge of Forming National Unity Cabinet

Ramallah- Hamas announced on Sunday the dissolution of the so-called administrative committee that runs the Gaza Strip and said it has agreed that a national unity cabinet immediately comes to the territory to carry out its duties.

“Hamas invites the government of national accord to come to Gaza to practice its mission and carry out its duties in the Strip immediately, and it accepts holding the general elections,” the movement said in a statement released on Sunday.

Hamas said it took the decision in response to Egypt’s efforts, which it greatly praised.

Hamas also expressed readiness to restart dialogue with the Fatah Movement concerning the mechanisms to implement the 2011 Cairo Agreement and to form a national unity government that includes all factions that signed the deal.

Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said the deal stipulates the fostering of the 2011 reconciliation agreement with no new items added on the list.

Observers believe that forming a national unity government constitutes the first challenge facing the new initiative, as Fatah wants to keep the program of its unity government while Hamas plans to introduce some amendments.

A series of meetings between Hamas and Fatah are expected to kick off next week in Egypt followed by talks with the rest of the Palestinian factions.

Al-Ahmed, who is currently in Cairo for the Egyptian-led reconciliation talks with Hamas told WAFA news agency that a bilateral meeting between Fatah and Hamas officials followed by a meeting of all the Palestinian factions that signed the reconciliation agreement in 2011 will be held in order to begin practical steps to implement the deal.

Al-Ahmed expressed great appreciation to Egypt’s efforts to end Palestinian division and achieve national unity.

Despite the welcoming statements released on Sunday by both Fatah and Hamas, the two movements are expected to face difficult talks concerning the employees of Hamas’ previous government, the plan of the upcoming national unity cabinet and its lineup in addition to which committees the new government should include.

Extremism: Case of Division, Fragmentation

ISIS

Dubai – The call for “unity” and “union” seems constant and efficient among different religious and ideological movements, each based on their views. However, their call has never been an encouraging unity factor, infact, they were factors of division, fragmentation, and weakness for the nation.

Often, division appears between religious extremist parties more than they appear towards their opponents, like with the fighting groups in Syria, which were recently called for unity by a Jordanian Islamist theorist.

In fact, extremism has originally emerged from dispersion and division; extremist entities reject containment and blow up wills of separations and calls of division.

This is how ISIS was born from the heart of al-Qaeda, which also came out from the heart of many previous radical groups.

Moderation has always been the one and only way to achieve unity, because it has the capacity to manage differences and contain them, yet, the right-winged intellects in East and West represent a sort on isolation and simply cannot accept the other. In case these extremist intellects tried to accept others, and if happened it ends with the emergence of divisions in the structure of the one identity and the one entity.

Through history, all extremist groups have failed in achieving unity among different movements, they also failed in unifying the territories they control like what happened among Taliban and the other Afghan militias and among ISIS and the other radical groups. No extremist group, whether an ideological or religious group, has ever succeeded in establishing a strong and unified state; all the Arabian ideological and right-winged experiences in the 50s collapsed swiftly after they lost against the first challenge; only few groups and entities persisted because they depended on different tools like law, history, and politics.

Cases of unity between two extremist groups were rare and those which united were temporary and aimed to fulfill a determined and limited goal, like the union of the “Egyptian Jihad Group” with Mohammad Abdul Salam Faraj in 1979 to assassinate President Anwar Sadat.

Leaders of Afghan Mujahideen also united after the evacuation of the Soviet Union troops in 1989, however, they didn’t wait long before they resumed their fights on authority and influence. In 2004, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sought to unify radical groups in Iraq in a Shura council, aiming to secure coordination among them, yet he failed after the split of these groups.

On 29 December, the extremist Jordanian Theorist Abu Muhammad al-Maqdesi released a paper calling the fighting groups in Syria to unite and merge. Through this paper, Maqdesi tried to spread his call, which provoked many of Qaeda leaders, who considered that he is seeking to approach ISIS.

Apparently, Maqdesi has used this call to resume his symbolic position among the fighting groups in Syria after the gradual shifts in his speech concerning ISIS. In spite that ISIS launched a vicious verbal war against Maqdesi after it burned the Jordanian Pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh, the theorist sought to improve his popularity among its members by justifying their acts and denouncing his old statements on the organization and its practices.

Most importantly that Maqdesi’s document emphasized a deep confusion as he called to overcome conflicts among the different groups after he criticized and offended ISIS, the biggest extremist group in this decade.

The unity of extremists has remained a difficult goal, and calls for these unities will also remain weak and limited, especially that they end up with division and fragmentation.

Syria: Failure to Unite Extremist Factions Opens Door to Alternative Options

ISIS

Beirut – The plan to merge extremist Islamic factions with moderate ones operating in north Syria has not seen light — Ahrar al-Sham and Noureddine Zanki movements stepped back in the project that aims to launch a new entity of 13 factions, a majority of extremist factions.

Reliable Syrian opposition sources reported to Asharq al-Awsat that regional and international pressures were exerted to hinder the integration because factions’ unity with Jabhat al-Nusra will include them all under the umbrella of terrorism.

Sources asserted that the Turks and forces supporting armed opposition put pressure on Ahrar al-Sham that was already undergoing an internal struggle regarding the topic – this caused a delay in the project before it totally collapsed when Ahrar al-Sham withdrew from it.

According to sources, Jabhat al-Nusra pressured in favor of integration because this would mean appointing Abu Mohammad al-Julani as a general military leader.

Member of the National Coalition of Syria Ahmed Ramadan attributed the failure of factions’ integration to their inability to agree upon a national program that was originally the reason behind the revolution.

“Some individuals who have weird perception of the Syrian community have sneaked into factions and pushed them to drift towards extremism and exaggerations as well as misunderstanding the priorities of the struggle,” Ramadan told Asharq al-Awsat.

He considered the role played by supporting members, groups and countries a negative one because it pushed factions into extremism and unwillingness to unite under a national umbrella.

Ramadan highlighted the Syrian revolution need for a new strategy amidst current conditions, elaborating that this strategy is being prepared without excluding the military aspect in which one national Syrian army is formed and spread in the liberated regions and popular resistance units are lined up and headed by one leader.

Bahraini Prime Minister: Saudi Arabia is a Source of Arab, Gulf Unity

bahrain

Manama- Bahrain’s Prime Minister Prince Khalifah bin Salman al-Khalifah hailed the initiatives led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz to reinforce the Arab and Gulf solidarity, asserting that Saudi Arabia has become a source of unity, integration and cooperation initiatives on the Arab and Gulf levels.

The Bahraini Prime Minister also stressed the importance of mutual Gulf meetings that contribute in increasing the GCC countries’ ability to combat various challenges and boost security readiness in the GCC countries.

The PM hailed Saudi honorable stances, expressing the Bahraini appreciation to the limitless support of Saudi Arabia to Bahrain in all fields. According to the prime minister, these stances are expected from a country that has always been the source of benefit to Arabs and Muslims.

The Prime Minister and Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, described the relations with Saudi Arabia as unique. They also affirmed Bahrain’s keenness to maintain communication and coordination with Saudi Arabia in all aspects.

In a related matter, the Crown Prince stated that the GCC countries’ cooperation is in an advanced level — the GCC has showed coherence on the level of leaders and people, hence representing a solid immunity against diverse challenges, according to the crown prince.

Prince Salman also hailed efforts exerted by the GCC towards strengthening joint security against the challenges in the region.

Libyan Unity Government Condemns Attack Near Eastern Oil Terminals

Libya’s U.N.-backed unity government condemned an attack staged by a recently formed militia group on eastern military forces close to key oil facilities, as clashes resumed on Sunday. Fighting had erupted south of the coastal town of Ajdabiya on Saturday between military units loyal to Libya’s eastern government and a group calling itself the Benghazi Defense Forces. Three people were reportedly killed and 10 wounded, military spokesman Akram Bu Haliqa said.

The Benghazi Defense Forces is mostly joind by fighters pushed back earlier this year by brigades loyal to the eastern government commander Khalifa Haftar. Haftar has been waging a campaign for two years in Benghazi against extremists, including some loyal to ISIS, and other opponents.

The condemnation by the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is significant because some in the east suspect the GNA – whose leadership has itself been divided – of siding with ISIS-inspired militias.

Clashes near Ajdabiya, close to three oil terminals and north of major oil fields, risks opening a new front in the conflict between forces that backed competing governments set up in Tripoli and the east in 2014.

Since March, the GNA has been seeking to replace the rival parliaments and governments and integrate armed groups, including forces loyal to Haftar, into national security forces. Nevertheless, the eastern parliament has withheld from backing the new government.

“The Presidential Council (of the GNA) strongly condemns this criminal act and holds the leaders and members of these militias fully responsible,” said a statement published on the Presidential Council’s Facebook page on Sunday.

“These militias are attacking to assist the remnants of ISIS in Benghazi and Ajdabiya which have faded and had their strength sapped by the strikes by our brave military.”

Armed groups in Libya have remained highly fragmented in the political mayhem that followed the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. ISIS established a presence in several parts of the country from 2014, and has been active between Benghazi and the terrorist group’s coastal stronghold of Sirte, about 380 km to the west.

However, in recent weeks, ISIS terrorists retreated into the heart of Sirte after GNA-aligned forces advanced from the western city of Misrata.

King Salman: We are Keen to Achieve Arab and Islamic Unity

Saudi Arabia and several other Islamic countries yesterday announced that the new moon of Ramadan has been sighted and that the holy month of fasting will begin on Monday.

On this occasion, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated leaders of Islamic and Arab countries, heads of government and senior political and religious figures. They also asked God Almighty to bless Arab and Islamic countries and the entire world with prosperity, success and many more Ramadans in the future.

In a speech that he delivered, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques congratulated Muslims on the arrival of the holy month and said that “the whole world is suffering from the disease of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Despite its varied and malicious motives, terrorism is a deviation from natural instinct that does not differentiate between right and wrong and does not respect pledges and sanctities. It has crossed the borders of states and penetrated their relations, is spoiling ties among loved ones and those who are tolerant, is dividing fathers and sons as well as families and groups”. King Salman added that “Islam is the religion of mercy, compassion, love and moderation and calls for peace, justice and the renunciation of violence and extremism. We ask God in this blessed month to help the Islamic nation and the whole world to root out this scourge and eliminate it once and for all”.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques continued by saying that “Since its foundation by the late King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, God bestow His mercy on him, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made the unity of the Islamic nation and the reunification of the Arab and Islamic nations its goal that it is always striving to attain, and it is keen to achieve this.” He emphasised that “The Saudi Arabian leadership and people will remain keen to achieve this noble goal since we are happy when our Muslim brothers are happy and distressed when they are distressed… We will stand by them in both hardship and prosperity”.

Opinion: The Mirage of Sovereignty and the Bluff of National Unity

Both Iraq and Lebanon are currently living two big ‘lies’: sovereignty and national unity, and as the days go by, not only are the politicians in the two countries proving their ability to bluff their people, but also their ability to bluff themselves.

1920 was a significant landmark in the history of the two countries as the ‘New World Order’ drew their maps that included several constituents. Some of these constituents willingly accepted the new ‘national’ borders, others accepted them as a fait accompli, and they felt that the very existence of ‘national borders’ dividing and separating what were Arab majority or character Ottoman provinces and ‘Mutassarifliks’ (i.e. ‘autonomous districts’) was tantamount to a fatal blow to the dream of ‘Arab Unity’.

It is worth remembering here, and always, that the ‘borders’ of the Near East’s entities were not drawn and adopted by their peoples, who are the peoples directly involved, but rather by the imperialist Western powers that won the WW1. It is well known that these powers agreed among themselves to divide and apportion the former Ottoman territories through a set of deals and agreements.

The question of ‘minorities’ – be they ethnic, linguistic, religious or sectarian – was always a sensitive issue at the time of drawing the maps of the British and French mandates. As artificial – even revised, as is the case of Western Iraq/Eastern Syria – borders were being drawn, they separated homogeneous groups while bringing together groups that had almost nothing in common.

The new post-Ottoman ‘Caliphate’ geo-political realities were taking shape against a background of a tough struggle between the ‘religious / sectarian’ and ‘nationalist’ identities as European- inspired ‘nationalism’, as well as rapid urbanization at the expense of rural and nomadic patterns of settlement with all the interaction, friction, interest-linked loyalties, concepts and ideologies.

Iraq, Lebanon and Syria have lived through all the above. However, while a royalist regime was established in Iraq based on a melange of rural, tribal and city elites from Baghdad, Mosul and Basra, and supported by the ex-‘Sherifian’ officers and other Faisal ibn Al-Hussein (King Faisal I) loyalists, a consensus republican system was installed in ‘Greater Lebanon’ headed by a Christian president.

Neither the Kurds nor the Turkmen had a say in deciding the shape of the new Iraq, nor were the Shi’a active participants in the building process of the new entity. Still, Faisal I succeeded with the help of wise and efficient advisers – many of whom were non-Iraqi – in creating an ‘Iraqi’ identity. By the mid-1930s, the ‘state of Iraq’ became a secure and thriving reality bolstered by oil wealth, despite internal and regional tensions, including those caused by Nazi Germany’s activities which thrived for a few years in Baghdad against the British, affecting both the Iraqi parties and the national army.

In Lebanon, urban and rural elites adapted to the new system as well. Common interests, traditional and ideological cross-factional political alliances emerged, although the disagreements remained between the ‘Lebanonists’, ‘pan-Syrianists’ and ‘pan-Arabists’.

In both Iraq and Lebanon the ‘political conscience’ of Arab Sunni Muslims was boiling with deep frustration with the ‘reality of partition’. They felt that the new entities created by Great Britain and France came at the expense of the destroyed dream of ‘The Greater Arab Homeland’ extending from the Atlantic to the Arab Gulf. This romantic dream, in fact, could have faded away, perhaps, had it not been for the loss of Palestine in 1948.

Indeed, Iraq’s Shi’a Arabs were never ‘less Arabist’ than their Sunni folks, and neither the Christians nor the Jews, Yezidis and other minorities were less proud of being ‘Iraqi’ than the Muslims. Even Kurds and Turkmen came together and co-existed with the other constituents, producing many leading statesmen, senior officers, intellectuals and poets. Arabic names were widely used then with no association with fear or need for flattery.

In Lebanon, also, despite the fact the majority among the ‘Labanonists’ was Christian, and the majority within the ‘pan-Syrianists and ‘pan-Arabists’ was Muslim, these two majorities were not large as many leading ‘pan-Syrianists’ and ‘pan-Arabists’ were Christian, and many Muslim leaders were more ‘Lebanonists’ than their Christian compatriots.

The Palestine ‘nakbah’ (i.e. disaster) which shocked the Arab world and damaged the credibility of Arab political elites left the stage waiting for a “hero”. Soon enough the “hero” emerged from army barracks. The Arab military took over and became involved in ‘the Cold War’ politics and the game of ‘power for power’s sake’. The military that originally took over power under the banner of ‘filling the vacuum’ and ‘liberating Palestine’ became drawn to the international rivalry between the ‘socialist’ east and the ‘capitalist’ west, and failed to deal with party politics.

Contrary to the 1948 ‘nakbah’, the 1967 ‘naksah’ (i.e. defeat) uncovered to the Arabs that the real solution may not be through the military after all. Then, the ‘Camp David Accords’ between Israel and Egypt managed to divide the Arabs, thus, weakening the ‘Arabist’ choice which was further weakened by Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait. Later on, the fall of the USSR ushered in the Arab world the collapse of the ‘Leftist’ alternative that included among others the slogans of the ‘war of popular liberation’. Even the Palestinian resistance movement fell victim to its involvement in inter-Arab rivalries and animosities and lost a lot of credibility.

Four decades of accumulating mistakes, stagnation and tendency for ‘inherited’ succession, combined to bring about the popular uprisings now known as the ‘Arab Spring’. These uprisings showed the disparity in the presence of the ‘deep state’, or rather ‘entrenched state’, in various Arab countries; and if Tunisia and Egypt managed their way through the ‘Arab Spring’ with a minimum of losses, the tragedies of Syria, Yemen and Libya proved beyond doubt their fragile structure and citizenship.

Iraq and Lebanon, while not experiencing the ‘Arab Spring’, have also been seen as fragile and devoid of proper citizenship against the background of the Syrian crisis made worse by Iran’s drive for sectarian and territorial hegemony; a drive that has been fueling Sunni-Sh’i tension throughout the region since 1979.

The present and lengthy political crisis in both Iraq and Lebanon is the clearest indication of the mirage of sovereignty and the bluff of national unity. To turn this sad reality into a full blown tragedy, it only needed Russia’s return to its imperialist dreams, and Barack Obama’s American volte-face against its Middle Eastern ‘friends’, caring less about the fate of the region’s people, strategic balance, and old alliances.

March 14 Alliance: We Refuse to Turn Lebanon into a Victim of Iran’s Domination

march 14 meeting

The Lebanese government will today meet to discuss the implications of the latest Gulf stance following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it has stopped its military and security aid to Lebanon and that it will review relations with Lebanon as a result of the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ stances which were not in line with Arab solidarity. Another reason for the cessation of aid is Hezbollah’s stances and its campaigns against the kingdom.

The March 14 forces announced their refusal “to turn Lebanon into a base for organisations that display hostility to any Arab country and turn it into a cultural, economic and political victim of a state that tries to wield its influence over Arab countries”. The announcement was made after the forces’ meeting yesterday and referred to Iran.

The Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam said that he is pushing to “rectify the position” that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia complained about in its latest position that is shared by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He warned in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat that he “will make people take responsibility for their actions and that the meeting called for by the government today “will show who wants what is in Lebanon’s best interests and will expose those who stand against these interests”.

Salam added that “there has always been unison between Lebanon and other Arab countries and the occurrence of negligence or a lapse is not the norm. The Gulf and Saudi Arabia in particular, have never neglected Lebanon and because of this we must not respond to this except by declaring our fraternity and cohesion with the Arab world where we belong, as our constitution stipulates”.

The Lebanese Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi yesterday announced his resignation from the government in protest at “Hezbollah’s attempt to form an Iranian mini-state in Lebanon” and stressed that “we are part of the Arab world and will not allow Hezbollah to control the Lebanese state”.

Saudi Envoy in Beirut Calls for National Dialogue

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awwad Asiri. (AAA)
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awwad Asiri. (AAA)
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awwad Asiri called on Lebanese officials to be more mindful and wiser, avoid escalatory language, and be rational in order to keep Lebanon away from danger.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Asiri hoped that the efforts to form a new government in Lebanon would open the door to all parties to meet and move on to a better stage at all levels.

He refused to answer a question on the form of the new Lebanese government, on the basis that Saudi Arabia does not intervene in other states’ internal affairs. However, he emphasized the importance of the existence of a government that will administer the country during this sensitive stage in accordance with national consensus.

Asiri said that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques gave directives to communicate with all Lebanese political forces without exception, and to encourage internal solutions for the benefit of Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

Asiri added that the critical phase through which the region is passing makes it incumbent on Lebanese officials to be more mindful and wiser, adopt calm language, and be rational in order to keep Lebanon away from danger. He also called on these officials to engage in a national dialogue because the Lebanese know their problems better than anyone and how to address them. He noted that he had conveyed this to speaker of the parliament Nabih Birri, former head of the caretaker government Najib Mikati, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, and the rest of the officials he visited yesterday.

Ambassador Asiri declared, “The Saudi leadership, government, and people wish all the best to Lebanon and to all sects of its people. Saudi Arabia hopes that Lebanese officials will pass through this stage with national unity, cohesion, and a dialogue sponsored by His Excellency, President of the Republic General Michel Suleiman.”

He added, “Such a dialogue will take Lebanon towards a phase of understanding under a new government that will address the economic issue, ensure security stability, and hold parliamentary elections in accordance with a law acceptable to the Lebanese people.”

Ambassador Asiri proclaimed, “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, is keen for a stable and sovereign Lebanon that enjoys civil peace. The kingdom stands by Lebanon in all circumstances and is pleased to find that the Lebanese brothers are convinced of the need to engage in a deep and constructive national dialogue.”

Asked about the role that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman will play, Asiri replied that the president is showing a great interest in applying the constitution and preserving the state’s institutions. “President Suleiman is also exerting persistent efforts to ensure success for the dialogue because he is convinced that dialogue is the only way to bring all political forces’ views closer, consolidate national unity, and reinforce the country’s internal position.”

Asiri continued, “President Suleiman’s positions are highly valued by all observers both internally and abroad. We hope that the cooperation between him, the new head of government, and all officials of the state will help achieve Lebanon’s interests and the aspirations of the Lebanese people.”

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s current role in Lebanon, Asiri pointed out that the kingdom is following a strict policy based on non-intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs. He said that Saudi Arabia encourages all efforts to consolidate national unity and coexistence, and that it stands by Lebanon in all moves to preserve its sovereignty and achieve progress and prosperity.

Yemen and the Threat of Secession

In 1990, three months before Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq, North Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh surprised everyone by announcing his agreement with South Yemen leader Ali Salem al-Beidh to integrate the two regimes and unify. Optimism reigned in both countries, as well as in the wider Arab world. But those who knew Yemen at the time were aware that the agreement was in fact a power sharing scheme between Saleh and Beidh. In southern Yemen, Beidh was living in conflict with his fellow communists. He was the sole leader there after the killings of Abdul Fattah Ismail and Ali Antar, and the flight of Ali Nasser Mohammed.

I remember at the time I wrote an article for The Majalla magazine about unity. It is a noble ideal, but the Yemeni scheme fell far short of it.

Saleh announced himself as president and Beidh as vice president of the new, unified state of Yemen. However, shortly after he joined the south with the north, Saleh wanted to get rid of his partner Beidh, so he pitted the Al-Islah Party against him in the ruling coalition. Suddenly, a campaign of assassinations was launched targeting left-wing southern figures, and Saleh claimed that Islamist parties were behind it.

Saleh’s dictatorship led to the Yemenis labeling him “little Saddam”. He implicated the Yemenis in the invasion of Kuwait when he supported Saddam’s forces. He caused the severance of relations with his neighbor Saudi Arabia and the rest of Gulf states. Together, Saleh and Beidh killed off the noble concept of unity and created a detestable regime. Under the pretense of unity, the poverty and marginalization of the Yemeni people, whether in the north or the south, increased. Saleh and his comrades robbed the country’s limited revenues and resources, including oil, which experts warn will be depleted in less than four years.

As a result, it is not surprising that the idea of separation is now being strongly advocated in the south; in Aden, Hadhramaut, Al-Mualla, and Al-Mansoura.

This long introduction is not intended to be a justification for Yemeni division. On the contrary, it is a call for unity to be maintained. Mistakes in contemporary Yemeni history have not come about because the Yemenis lived under a single government. Rather they came about as a result of Saleh and Beidh’s rule. Yemen is big enough for everyone and positive results can be achieved for its 24 million citizens if an equitable political structure is established, sharing resources, improving opportunities, and preventing disputes, which in any case would be more likely to occur after separation.

The people of the south must remember that those who overthrew Saleh were the people of the north, and that those same people are now championing the idea of good governance.

Unfortunately, various southern leaderships are engaged in a cheap auction against each another. They all promise secession but they are not being frank with their citizens. The concept of restoring a south Yemeni state is plagued by a variety of dangerous problems, such as tribal disputes and leaders’ infighting. Now Salem al-Beidh lives in Beirut, where he has sealed an alliance with the Iranians. Southern leaders like him are currently embroiling the Yemenis in a feud with important countries like Saudi Arabia and the US. Others are allying with Al-Qaeda and the rest do not have a genuine developmental project for the south. We should also remember that secession will neither have the international community’s support nor political or economic viability.

Is it too much to expect southern leaders to put forward ideas that, on the one hand, express the southern citizens’ demands for some autonomy, while on the other hand maintain Yemen’s unity and stability? There are solutions that could achieve both goals: administrative independence and Yemeni unity.