Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Decades of Unity, Is that Really Enough?

Two Decades of Unity, Is that Really Enough?
The release of prisoners is a good start, but

Hassan Al-Haifi
Yemen Times

Many an observer fails to understand why the Government fails to concentrate its attention on finding solutions to the persistent economic stagnations facing the country and readily finds good reason to insist that the violence that had subsided for the past five months must go on and on in Sa’ada and in the South. Surely, there is no reason why Yemenis should be subject to further economic constraints as continued military activity near the Saudi border would not alleviate the increasing cost of living and the hardships now being faced by the overwhelming majority of Yemeni citizens. Most people are inclined to suggest that the Government could not afford another round of fighting is Sa’ada, which has already accumulated over three hundred thousand refugees or internally displaced persons by the admission of the Yemeni Government itself. Nor can the Yemeni people buy the idea that the regime is entrenched in an endless struggle to keep Yemen united.

It is clear that the Yemeni Government has wasted so much of the country’s resources on merely sustaining the current regime’s stranglehold on the political will of the people. Is it now time that the elements, which have managed to eke out a considerably comfortable standard of living from working towards the latter, start thinking about rechanneling some of this abundance of wealth (at least the illegitimate share of it – the bulk) back to the rest of the population.

On the contrary, it is apparent that the resources of the land continue to be channeled towards making most of the illegitimately rich even richer, as the seeds of corruption continue to grow and its beneficiaries continue to gnaw at the social fabric unabashedly Yemen is not in an envied position at all, when well over half the population are living under the poverty line and cannot find access to the resources that could help alleviate this intentionally chronic difficulty or so it seems. The problem is really twofold: The regime is not geared to respond to the needs of the Yemeni people at all, as most of the pervious open channels for self-development were actually blocked by the regime and the ability of the people of Yemen to advance themselves hindered by an intertwining regime of constantly changing and sometimes unbelievably repressive legislation and inequitable application of law and justice. Yes Yemen is suffering, not so much due to an international environment, which at best may be said to be inhospitable to countries subject to the kind of repression we have here in Yemen, but due to the carelessness of irresponsible citizens, who have found niches for their evil acumen to operate freely, knowing full well that they are not at all subject to any accountability for their ill performance as public officials and their horrendous misuse of legitimate public funds and assets, under an umbrella of legitimization spiced by sheer muscle.

Yemen is now in its third decade as a united country and thank God, it still desperately holds on to this unity for all its worth on both sides of the divide. That this unity is facing threats of self-fragmentation is clearly a result of its spontaneity as its being as it its due to the irresponsible elements of the regime that consider this unity a matter of a “might makes right” attitude that overwhelms the mindset of many of the loyal backers of the prevailing regime that has left no stone unturned to bring suffering and despair to the overwhelming population of the Republic of Yemen. The regime is hinging its bets on the “unity” issue as the overriding concern of the majority of the Yemeni people, but his is a short-lived play on emotions that is bound to be eaten up by the hunger, insecurity, instability disease and deprivation that the regime has made as the lot of the overwhelming majority of the citizenry north and south of the Mukeiras divide, that used to symbolize the fictitious supposition of a North Yemen and South Yemen, which has never and will never be the hope of any decent minded Yemeni citizen, whether in Sa’ada or Al-Mahara Governorates or at the Tihama Strip or the Ramlat Al-Sabatein Desert.

The President announced the release of many prisoners, most of whom have never been subject to due process of law as attested to by many a local and foreign organization advocating for human rights and civil liberties let alone actually proven as engaged in any act of civil disobedience. This is indeed welcome news. But the roots of Yemen’s persistent problems go beyond a momentary respite of civility within the regime. The President and the cronies around him must start thinking about finding ways to allowing themselves to be subject to accountability and self assessment, if they are to hope for any peace in the country and some appreciation from their largely displeased, if not contemptuous constituents. Happy anniversary, Yemen.