Proposed Vision for National Salvation (1)

March 20, 2010

Section One: Diagnosis of current political and national crisis

First:

Roots of the Crisis

(Highly personalized autocracy and clan based political center)

For long eras and extended periods, Yemen suffered from despotic and autocratic clan or race based regimes that fostered central un-institutional power as a mean to justify and cover up its clan or race based monopoly of power, authority and resources. This is the true impasse  and crisis that wasted the right of people in power and the right of country in its human and material resources and, thus, deepening retardation and waste.

Since 1930s, Yemenis were struggling and making substantial sacrifices with enormous number of martyrs to face and resolve this dilemma and abolishing its painful reflections by working to establish a national state as a frame for all Yemenis on the basis of equal citizenship, rule of law and a decentralized system representing the wishes of different groups and forces in the nation.

The victory of the Yemeni revolution (September and October) and the creation of a republican regime in the northern part, the independence of the southern part and its unification, and the creation of a republican regime therein, all represented positive steps for maturity and completion of key goals and principles of the Yemeni revolution, and the aspirations of the Yemeni people in re-unification of the country, establishing a modern national state throwing away the remains of occupation, despotism, autocracy and factional ruling. Although the country continued to be fragmented (two countries) which hindered unification efforts for more than two decades, the unification project remained a goal for all national political parties and forces making many sacrifices towards that end. Moreover, and justified by this aim, several wars broke out internally and between the two parts of the country. This continues until 22nd of May 1990 where a peaceful unification was realized with all associated national and democratic contents, creating a favorable environment for resolving the historical crisis and opening horizons for the future through:

  1. Ending the situation of geographic and social separation that affected the social and national identify of the Yemeni people and, thus, ensuring the direction of national resources to achieve envisaged social development and prosperity.
  2. Eliminate all forms of factional discrimination, arrogance tendencies, autocracy and seizure of resources, which, under fragmentation and division, grew and dominated on other forms of consultative democratic regime dreamed off by Yemenis.
  3. Open doors for ousting all forms of autocratic ruling, despotism and tyranny and establishing an institutionalized nation-state resting on the principles of equal citizenship and the rule of law as means to overcome the state of retardation and to join the era, strengthen independence and national sovereignty.
  4. The peaceful nature of the Yemeni unification represented a fresh start for new Yemeni history repudiating the use of violence for political purposes or in national struggle. Therefore, unity was correlated with political and partisan pluralism, the exchange of power through free and fair elections as inevitable conditions for enhancing the building of modern national state, which would not be built under the state of violence, fragmentation and conflicts over power, resources and decisions.

These were the concepts of the historical settlement that aimed at ending this historical dilemma. Yemenis has great expectations and hopes that these concepts will be translated into a new social contract formulating the present and future of the country towards envisioned prosperity and advancement.

It is very unfortunate that events followed a different direction. A crisis broke out by the end of 1993 and a civil war erupted in the summer of 1994. In the wake of that war, the rulers pounced against the concepts of the national partnership and the nascent democratic project based on political and partisan pluralism and, hence, obstructed all horizons of hope that were open before Yemenis on 22nd of May 1990.

Step-by-step the autocratic power, and in a systematic manner, regained its tyrannical dominance reviving the historical legacy of crisis with all its factional components and discriminatory arrogant tendencies. The constitution was tailored to strengthen autocracy, granting the president broad powers with immunity against responsibility and accountability. But this came at the expense of the state institutions which were emptied from contents. The wishes and tempers of an individual person became the axis around which all policies and approaches are centered. The resources of the country were channeled to serve the strengthening of the ownership of an individual of power and state. This resulted in a personalized state, authority and regime. The individual person on top of power controlled all elements of powers and resources. The allegiance to the individual ruler replaced the allegiance to the country and state and personal relations inside the government body replaced objective work relations.

Since then, the personalized power imposed itself not as a ruler for the country alone, but also as an owner of the country, running its political, economic and administrative affairs the way it wishes with no regard to the conditions of the social contract. This power controlled the sustenance of people and the vital interests of different groups of the society and, then, convened the needs and benefits of people into tools used to compel them to obey the powerful and resourceful elite.

In such a way, the state was converted from a national political project into a narrow family project wasting the struggle and sacrifices of the Yemeni people and overlooking the goals of the Yemeni revolution for the aim of the full control of power and resources.

In line with this, the holders of current power worked, on the rubble of the national unification project, to achieve the following:

  1. Block the horizons of change through free and fair elections, invalidate the principle of peaceful exchange of power by refusing any actions that may improve the electoral system, administration, and process  which are all conditions for rendering elections free and fair and representative of the free will of the people. The electoral process was converted into a formal process unable of developing the democratic process and building the Yemeni state. The electoral process is currently a mere formal celebrations aiming to legitimize and reproduce a regime that runs the country through rounds of carefully crafted elections,.
  2. Adopting continuous actions to create crisis situations in the country paving the road for the extension of the ruler’s term in power, and for the transfer of power to children by controlling public jobs and positions and more wealth and influence. Such practices expanded the circle of corrupt and illegal benefits on one hand, and limiting the circle of ruling partners to family members  on the other.
  3. Allegiance to the ruler and his heirs became the source and the criterion for measuring national allegiance. The hand of corruption and organized looting of the public funds was unleashed until the livelihood of people worsened and ordinary citizens lost any feeling of affiliation to the country and state and became strangers in their own country.
  4. The relentless work to constrain, dismantle and strike modern political and social structures that are based on wide and ample national ties. The ruler is viewing these structures as a source of disruption and concern.
  5. Provoking and reviving all forms of fanaticism and factional bigotries (regional, racial, tribal…etc.) because tyranny can only supersede and thrive when it sow discord among  political and social groups.
  6. Strengthening  the culture of fragmentation and animosity to undermine the national project, and laying the ground for bringing together all factors frustrating national advancement, weakening national affiliation to the state in favor of promoting sub-national affiliations (regional, tribal, sectarian and racial)..

Second: Manifestations of the Crisis

a. Political Manifestations:

  1. Replacing the project of building an institutionalized nation state  by autocratic authority that mobilized the state elements outside their institutional scope to secure the needed authority, in part, to hinder the building of a state and, in the other part, to protect the family power; the two processes lead to the same outcome, which is the deepening of the personalization of the state, power and regime, through:
    1. Distorting the national awareness of the state concept and functions, diminishing the constitutional and legal legitimacy of the state by political and administrative practices of its powers, institutions and departments. The state functions are done in an outrageous violation of the constitution and laws and in retarded rude ways under full absence of any accountability for these practices. The natural result  has been this wild monster of corruption invading all state joints, the wasting of the country resources, crippling the people’s interests, wasting their rights and the poor  performance of functions.
    2. The systemic weakening of the legislative authority and emptying it from its contents and constitutional functions.
    3. Controlling the judiciary through formation, appointments, promotions, transfers and defining salaries and rendering the judiciary as a toll for executing the ruler’s orders and instructions. The judiciary is not fulfilling its role in protecting rights and freedoms of people. The ravages of evils and lawlessness have expanded and squandered public and private rights.
    4. Aborting steps and requirements of local governance and deforming its meaning. Under the title of local governance, the worst forms of centralization are being practiced that do not go in line with the minimum standards of local administration. What happens on the ground is a process of crippling the vital role of local authorities and their bodies and making them only formal bodies and honorary positions to win allegiances.
    5. Involving the armed forces and security, as national institutions, in tasks beyond their constitutional mandate and functions, by engaging them in internal political conflicts that should not surpass political institutions. The national and professional role of armed and security forces is seized, the moral guidance programs are personalized, the leadership and instruction centers in military and armed forces are multiple and the discipline systems and traditions are spoiled. The criteria of kinship, personal and family allegiance are dominating over the criteria of national standards and professional efficiency. The rules of seniority-based promotions are neglected in an audacious violation of the constitution. In addition, many affiliates of these institutions (officers and soldiers) are subject to unjust treatment in their financial and moral rights. The families of the martyrs and veterans of the Yemeni resolutions and retirees are in no better position in terms of denial and injustice.
  2. Destruction of the plural political system, diminishing the democratic project and civic live pillars through the never-ending pursuance of the authority to:
  • Marginalize and abolish the legal status of the opposition as one pillar of the plural political system (authority + opposition). The practices of the authority  against the opposition parties are in the forms of overarching violations, aggressions, crackdown, weakening; either by instigating and supporting partisan fissions, controlling parties by financial means, confiscating their rights in public media means, expropriating the properties and premises of some parties, hunt down their members and activists and dismissing them from public jobs in many cases, and inducing them to leave their parties and join the ruling party in anticipation of promotions and, in the best cases, buying their silence for endorsing them as good behavior individuals.
  • Forfeiting freedom and independence of labor unions and federations as well as all civil society syndicates, organizations and associations of professional and creative natures, the student unions, the agricultural and fisheries cooperatives  …etc. This is in addition to working to subdue these organizations by the attempts of domination, containment, fission, idling  or freezing and other forms of pressures and abuses that threaten the impartiality and independence of these institutions in fulfilling their tasks and defending their members’ rights. On the other hand, alternative dissident institutions are promoted (under the full control of the authority) to be used to jeopardize the union and syndicate activities and to use these fake institutions as a façade to claim that there is civil society partnering with the state.
  1. Seizure of public freedoms and rights, the most important of which is the right of freedom of expression, the strangulation of free press, persecution of journalists and political activities by means of detention, imprisonment and prosecutions, as well as adopting the approach of force and live bullets to suppress all forms of peaceful struggle and demands. The matter does not stop at the boundaries of practical actions in the form of daily transgressions, but it exceeds this to manipulations in legislations and emptying all rights from their true contents by maneuvering around laws to narrow the window of constitutional rights or by issuing regulations and circulars that abolish the few remaining rights in laws.
  2. The generation and fueling of violence, fanaticism, hatred and all forms of political conflicts, tribal feuds and battles and local violence. The aim of this is to keep the general situation under undeclared state of emergency and to use the security tools to resolve disagreements with political rivals, and to spread horror in communities and distract people from claiming their looted rights. Moreover, some aspects of security instabilities are utilized and kept at a certain level to stimulate international and regional concerns and worries as means for political and financial extortion.

b. Main national aspects of the crisis:

  1. 1. The Southern Cause:

The southern cause represents the most serious hotspot of the national crisis. In the evolution of this crisis, an unprecedented state of people’s dissatisfaction emerged in southern governorate. This dissatisfaction was then materialized in political and social movements that strongly advocate for the southern cause as a natural reaction to the failure of the authority in managing the unity of the country and converting it from a national democratic project into a forceful approach of dominance through wars and excessive use of force to topple the national partnership and to control power and resources. This includes spreading  the culture of the widespread looting of public and private properties in southern governorate.

However, the real motives for the emergence of the southern cause are the consequences and repercussions of the 1994 war and the political, economic and social conditions resulting from the vengeful policies of the regime against the project of national unity and its practices in southern governorates since the end of the war until now. The authority viewed its military victory on 07.07.1994 as the final accomplishment for completing or ending the history and that it does not need to present a national political project taking into account cleaning  the impacts of the war, treating is traumas and leading the country towards implementing the unity covenants, especially the covenants related to building a state based on the rule of law, strong national institutions, equal citizenship, generating benefits to the citizens from the unification democratic project as well as adopting effective policies to deepen the national fraternization, rehabilitating the unified and big Yemen to achieve national  and social integration objectively.

The practices and actions of the authority in the southern governorate since 1994 war, as part of its destructive policy in the country as a whole, were primarily based on negating the unification covenants and instead of taking the best practices in both parts of the country, the regime followed the worst practices and eliminated the best ones. It also worked to foster the tendency of dominance and exclusion. The status of the southern part was remodeled taking into account geographical dimension only but neglecting history, political peculiars, economic, social and cultural characterizes that evolved and continued for long decades.

The war and its subsequent official policies produced a situation of vertical division built on discrimination against the people of the southern governorates and taking actions to destroy the political and administrative legacy that should have been viewed as  part of the national Yemeni heritage and as accumulated experiences gained by Yemeni people through their history. The authority, with a primitive mentality of supremacy, worked to destroy the state body of the former southern state, abolishing its accumulated experiences, laying off thousands of its civil and military employees with no considerations whatsoever to their legitimate rights. Public sector institutions were privatized through a systemic looting process benefiting only the influential people. Workers were thrown to the unemployment market with no rights. Likewise, peasants were expelled from their lands, state farms were seized and redistributed to a handful of influential people. State lands were also looted for the benefit of a small group of influential people on the account of investment and accommodation needs. The people of the southern governorates were the ones mostly eliminated. These practices also extended to loot privately owned lands and buildings that belonged to citizens. The southern governorates were subjected to a stringent military and security administration marginalizing the role of the civil administration. Political revenge was also practiced with a fabricated situation of chaos, violations to the law and deliberate revival of forgotten bigotries (political, tribal …etc.).

The authority,  instead of providing services and benefits to the people under the unification, diminished the network of these benefits that large segments of the southern people used to receive from the state. Many of these services deteriorated. The traditions and symbols   of the southern people were deliberately humiliated. The aspects of their partnership in the unification were obliterated. The unification was trandformed, from being a noble national cause linked to the dreams and ambitions of  southerners,  became a daily accusation that follows most of them. Moreover, the official media never stopped using unity as a mean for humiliation and demoralization of the southern citizens with no exceptions.

Sada War

The repeated eruptions, and expansion of  scope, of Sada war since June 2004 until it reaches the vicinity of the capital, represented a serious situation reflecting the lack of an institutional system capable of dealing with social, cultural, political and security challenges from a national perspective avoiding the slippage  into factional and sectarian wars. The dangerouss developments of Sada war are bringing back to the surface these concerns and now fears exist that such war may expand and  demolish national unity and ignite unprecedented sectarian and tribal wars.

During the years of Sada war, the authority kept refusing all calls for war stoppage and dealing with the situation under the umbrella of the constitution and laws. Consequently, thousands of Yemeni civilians and military people were either killed or injured. Tens of thousands of families fled their houses and lost their livelihoods as a result of the mass destruction inflected by the war to their properties.

These wars were accompanied and intertwined with propaganda campaigns by the authority using all terminologies of commotion, sectarian and tribal bigotry, and in parallel by suppressive security crackdown and actions. Today, there are still many people imprisoned on the account of Sada wars.

The unilateral pronouncement of the President in July 2008 of an end to the war in Sada, and its actual cessation, came to confirm that war breaks out and ends by the wish of the regime.

Sada wars also showed that internal wars are a useful mechanism in the hands of the regime to manage the country without any regard to constitution and law, lives, rights and properties of people let alone their freedoms. They also reveal the extent ofdevastation the authority inflects upon the society as a result of promoting the feelings of animosity among citizens and fueling violence tendencies for the sake of stayingin power.

c. Economic Manifestations of the crisis:

Economic and social symptoms of the crisis represent one of the key challenges facing our country and agonizing the whole society especially the poor and limited income people whose number increases day after day to represent the vast majority of the citizenry. This is not an incidental situation but is a chronic case not only ascribed to inherited historical retardation, scarce resources and dominance of traditional setups…etc. It is rather something integrally related to the nature of the autocratic regime resting on a factional centralization. This regime deliberately dealt with  resources and national wealth as gain to be shared among the oligarchic group, their relatives and affiliates. It dealt with the people of the country as a human surplus that distorts the luxury of this oligarchy that, in its opinion, should have the right in sharing wealth, financial and economic resources. For this reason, the regime followed a constant approach in dealing with the fluctuating economic crisis. That approach was based on making the poor, limited income people, and owners of small and medium possessions, bear the costs of economic the required economic adjustments. These wrong and retarded policies exacerbated the suffering of the people and burdened the citizens with the increasing costs of goods and services.

The authority kept avoiding tackling the real causes of the economic crisis, which are topped by corruption and misadministration. What happened was completely  the contrary; corruption was unleashed and the mafia of illegal interests dominated. Hence, corruption, unfortunately, became a regular practice to manage the country and a tool to monopolize, own and secure  power as well as inheriting it to the sons thereafter. The development process and plans became merely tools to seize national wealth and an element for political propaganda.

Corruption forces amplified, their interests enlarged and their financial balances grew. These forces are dominating different elements in the country and a substantial part of the economic resources of the country are private assets and properties for grand corrupts.

As opportunities for the oligarchy and their related interest groups grow bigger and bigger, the vast majority of people are living in destitution and harsh conditions under the negligence of their interests, and the rocketingInflation rates, prices of goods, services, and essential food, accommodation, education and prices of health services . This is ascribed to the unwise expenditures policies, the continuing high spending on unnecessary celebrations, exhibition projects, foreign travel and unjustified current expenditures; let alone the distribution of public revenues to national economy sectors and state facilities in an unfair and arbitrary manner. The evidence is that, the expenditures of defense and security are rapidly increasing, while expenditures on socio-economic development sectors are in steadfast decline. In contrast, the pressure of inflation on prices is persistent. The real things that continue to grow uninterruptedly are the rates all types of unemployment, , poverty of all aspects and with all its destructive and serious impacts.

This approach, in light of fragile institutional structures of the state, the dominating corruption, and the disabled and unqualified economic management, led to:

  1. Wasting the economic and financial resources and high rates of cash surpluses in the state budget gained by our country in the recent years as a result of high oil prices and increasing production.
  2. Eroding the country’s vital capacities, resources and wealth, and  preventing  the establishment of a solid base for a real economic, political, social and cultural development.
  3. Failing to absorb loans and grants from donors for different development fields.
  4. Diminishing the role of private investments in the development process. Our country saw an enormous flight of capital abroad and a remarkable regression in the contribution of private sector in development. This is attributed to the continuous suffering of the private sector, being subject to harassment and extortion and the policy of “expulsion” practiced against the private sector from influential elements and corruption circles. This is in addition to the deteriorating services.
  5. Rapid and continuous deterioration in living standards of people, the exacerbating of the problems of poverty and unemployment, their ascending trends, the constant increase in prices, the unfair distribution of resources, the widening of the income gap, the lack of equal economic opportunities, the monopoly of few influential people and  corrupt brokers of the majority of country resources to an extent that those people became exorbitantly rich. The middle class was also squeezed and eroded, depriving  the society from its important role as a leverage for development and improvement. All that led to the suffering of the majority of people in terms of destitution, unemployment and deprivation from the basic economic and social rights.
  6. Deterioration of education in terms of types and quality. In addition, education outputs, in terms of specializations and specifications, do not meet the requirements of development plans and the needs in the labor market internally and externally. Illiteracy rates are also skyrocketing.
  7. Absence of public health services and the deterioration of the existing ones. In addition, water, electricity, social and basic services that should be provided by the government is in decadence.
  8. Absence of comprehensive rural development, which means the marginalization and deprivation of the majority of the population from development benefits. More than 70% of the population are living in rural areas.

This diagnosis of the symptoms and trends of the general crisis in the country is not a luxury work, nor it is merely to record points of objection on the current situation. It is rather a national effort that aims at creating solutions and serious treatments for the true causes of this crisis. The goal  isto rescue the country from the current situation and its dire consequences, not the least of which is becoming a failed, or threatened failing,    state.

The crisis, with all its manifestations, will continue to expand and broaden with the growing political, administrative, economic and financial corruption produced by the autocratic regime and the personalized state. The crisis will exacerbate more and more with the regression of democratic and political participation process, the lack of institutionalized nation state and the rules and principles of good governance.

International reports, with all its official and international data and figures, highlight the seriousness and magnitude of the crisis, the imbalances that proliferate in the state bodies and institutions putting the country apparently in among the failed or on the edge of failing states.

Based on the above,  Yemenis, with all their categories and groups, political and social forces, do have one last option before it is too late. The option is the national salivation to rescue the country from the cycle of repeated crisis, returning it to its natural path, the path of envisaged economic and social prosperity.

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