Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Yemen: The forbidden has occurred | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Divisions have appeared in the ranks of the military leadership in Yemen, and likewise there have been resignations in the Yemeni diplomatic corps, which means that the forbidden has occurred. If the social contract in Yemen is disbanded, God forbid, then what is happening in Libya will be a mere picnic compared to what will happen there.

We gave warnings about Yemen, and the situation in the country, and many others also issued warnings, but Yemen is not the only neglected Arab concern. There are several countries [in critical situations], and it seems that the hour of reckoning has now arrived, and the outstanding issues have today returned once more. Yemen’s problem seems to be endemic of the wider political culture in our region today, which I and many others have described as being a [political] deluge. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who once said that ruling Yemen was like dancing with snakes, continues to cling to power after more than three decades in power. The President continues to hold all the strings in the Yemeni [political] game, which has become increasingly complex, and any attempts to resolve the situation today will only lead to further collapse, because the strings in the Yemeni [political] game are already frayed and worn due to extensive manipulation.

The Yemeni crisis was not handled wisely, or with caution, namely via the secure transfer of power. Instead, the Yemeni President announced that the bulk of the people were with him, and that he would not be removed from power. As a result of this, Yemen’s future will be disastrous, as this [President Saleh’s position] is nothing more than a repeat of mistakes that we have seen before. We have seen such mistakes in Ben Ali’s “I understand you” speech, or when the Egyptian regime argued that when considering a population of more than 80 million, 1 million protestors taking to the streets was not representative [of the will of the people], however in spite of this Mubarak was still removed from power. In Syria, there are demands for freedom and reform, and the government response has been to utilize the army. This is also a repeat of the Egyptian error, where demands began with the slogans “dignity and freedom…social justice”, and the regime responded with excessive police violence, and matters ended with the ouster of the regime. Likewise, we also heard Gaddafi tell his people: “Who are you [the protestors]? There are millions with Muammar [Gaddafi]”, however here he is today under international bombardment. However Yemen is not Libya, for Yemen will be transformed into a living hell, for the Yemenis and the Arab Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia [should Saleh continue to make the same mistakes]. Not only are Al Qaeda and the Huthi rebels present in Yemen, but there are also numerous tribes, an armed civilian population, and those in the south calling for secession. This is a deadly cocktail, therefore is it rational for us to allow Yemen to throw itself into the abyss? This would be pure madness.

Some might say, what is the solution? The answer is that the Yemeni president must today bear his national and moral responsibility and take a position that will assure his place in Yemeni history, rather than him being known as the man who destroyed his country. President Saleh does not have the luxury of time to dance with the snakes again. We warned him of the need to call early elections, and some scoffed at this, and we have today witnessed all the newcomers to the scene, or let us say opportunists [call for him to step down], and now even the pigeons in Yemen have begun to shy away from the regime. This is precisely what we have seen with a number of Yemeni ambassadors abroad announcing their resignations, and therefore the scene in Yemen today is on the verge of exploding.

What is important today is that the Yemeni regime recognizes the significance of timing, in order to avoid the errors of the Egyptian regime. The ball is now in Ali Abdullah Saleh’s court, and the court of those who can have a positive influence on him.

This is not mere speculation, but a genuine fear for tomorrow.