Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1224, (4 - 10 December 2014)
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1224, (4 - 10 December 2014)

Ahram Weekly

No separation in Yemen

The largest rival groups in Yemen have come to an agreement in the interests of the country’s unity, writes Nasser Arrabyee in Sanaa

Al-Ahram Weekly

Hirak separatists in South Yemen did not proclaim their separation from the rest of the country on 30 November as they had threatened last October. No one from the north was deported, and the borders were not closed.

The majority of people in the south and north of the country realise that separation would make matters worse for the country as a whole, and though the current unity of the country may not be working, separation would not solve its problems.

The absence of the state is the real problem of the people in the south and the north, not unity. If a genuine and just state was established, no one would talk about separation or disengagement.

“The calls for separation are against the historical legitimacy and the eternal right of all Yemenis to unity,” said Mohamed Salem Akkoosh, a leading politician from the south.

Two days before the deadline of 30 November, the two biggest rival groups, the Sunni Islah Party and the Shiite Houthi Movement, met and agreed to stop hostilities against each other in the interests of unity.

The third largest group, the General People Congress, the party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, supported the agreement between the Houthis and Islah, describing it as a “right step in the right direction.”

The Hirak Movement organised demonstrations in Aden and Mukalla in the south and east of the country, where tens of thousands rallied with the flags of the south in their hands. A few of the demonstrators used violence, but were dispersed by the security forces. One person was killed and five others injured when attempts were made to occupy the offices of the governor of Aden.

The Hirak TV channel, covering the demonstrations, said that “the soldiers of the Yemeni occupation forces are killing the demonstrators.” It is owned by Ali Salem Al-Baid, former president of the south.

For the government media, 30 November is a national day that is celebrated every year. This year, it marks the 47th anniversary of the departure of the last British occupying troops from South Yemen, and all groups and parties celebrated the occasion.

Al-Qaeda remains a player in Yemen, and it is now engaged in a war with the Houthis that control much of the north of the country and have an increasing number of supporters in the south.

Al-Qaeda described the meeting between the leaders of Islah and the Houthis in Saada as “treason and cowardice.” Activists in the Islah Party also criticised their leaders, calling them “cowards” for “begging for reconciliation with rebels.”

Nobel Prize winner Tawakkul Karman, a member of the Islah Party, said that had Party representatives gone to Saada before the Houthis took control of Sanaa in September the step would have been good for dialogue and the political process, but now it was an act of “fear and cowardice.”

“If you had gone to Saada before the fall of Sanaa to the Houthis, we would have said you wanted dialogue, but now we say you are the slaves of force,” Karman said, referring to the leaders of her party.

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