Yemen... A great revolution and a sleeping transitional authority

Middle East Monitor
Publication date: 
May 06 2014

The difference between today's Friends of Yemen conference in London and the first conference to take place in the capital eight years ago is that the current conference is being held at a time when Yemen is in jeopardy of failing in light of a transitional authority put in power in order to cross into a free and dignified future in response to the demands of the Yemeni people and their desires for change, as well as fulfil their dream of establishing a modern democratic state.

Unfortunately, the transitional authority has not carried out any of its tasks or the responsibilities mentioned in the transitional document that outlines its work during the intermediate period estimated at two years. It has been three months since this two year period ended. A large number of the revolution's youth say that their dreams and aspirations were let down by this authority and that those in power denied the sacrifices made by their fellow youth who died as martyrs or were wounded in the course of their peaceful struggle.

Anyone observing the situation from afar will conclude that the transitional authority lacks wisdom and accountability. As of this moment, there has been no investigation or accountability with regards to any corruption cases and none of the looted public funds and property has been recovered. Moreover, no official measures were taken to ensure maturity and integrity in public institutions. In addition to this, all the appointments to public offices or high level positions were based on nepotism, while very few appointments were made based on qualifications, competition and equal opportunities. In this context, nothing was accomplished in terms of institutional procedures protecting the rights and freedoms of the citizens and making sure they are not violated, as well as preventing human rights crimes now and in the future, as well as addressing the serious violations committed before and during the revolution.

Instead of the state enforcing its control over the country's different regions, we find that the control of armed militias is growing, their weapons increasing and their struggle intensifying. They are fighting to expand their influence, achieve their political goals and are killing any chance of Yemen moving towards stability, independence and a free and dignified life. All of this occurs without any consequences affecting the armed militias or their supporters and no action has been taken to put an end to the violence and prevent the occurrence or recurrence of conflict, nor have there been attempts to disarm them or prohibit the possession and use of weapons inside or outside the country. The transitional authority did not take any action to exercise its authority over the state and restore the prestige of the army and security services, rather, this is all occurring with the blessing of the transitional authority and they are silent, treating it as a fait accompli.

The transitional document, known as the executive mechanism of the Gulf initiative, is a mechanism used to set important laws needed for in the process of building the state during the transitional period. However, no laws were passed using this mechanism. The only achievement made, perhaps, was holding a national dialogue conference that concluded with a long list of resolutions to be implemented during the new transitional period. We, the youth, have made a comprehensive list of the responsibilities and tasks that have been signed off on, as well as the tasks the transitional authority must carry out and we organised them into packages and instalments in order to call on the authority to carry out its promises in order of priority, as they usually forget what they promised and find none of their partners remind them and are instead of being reminded by the international sponsors.

19 urgent demands

Three months ago, we presented the authority with the first package consisting of 19 urgent demands that were deemed priorities that the transitional authority must implement immediately after dialogue. All of these demands are related to combatting corruption, disarming the militias, completing the structuring of the army and security services and spreading the influence of the state. We released statements, held press conferences and organised popular marches and sit-ins, but to no avail.

The idea was to present our demands in the form of packages and instalments and whenever one package was implemented, we would push for the implementation of another. It has been months since we presented our first package, but it is still awaiting implementation and there is no hope that it will be achieved any time soon. Three years after the peaceful revolution that broke out to overthrow Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime along with the regime of corruption and bribery, we find ourselves and our country still being controlled by the same people and the same corrupt and failed policies and practices. Meanwhile, the expertise and support of the international sponsors has been limited to praising Yemen's unique dialogue experience and crediting the authority with having integrity and making great achievements.

The difference between the old and new authority is that the new authority is committing crimes of corruption and is abusing power while relying on international sponsorship and deluded and deceptive international support; deluded into thinking that Yemen is making reforms and that changes are being made in accordance with the aspirations of the Yemeni people, while, in reality, nothing vital is happening, and deceptive because many observers and those concerned with Yemeni affairs are listening to the testimonies and reports of the international sponsors which talk about a distinguished experience in Yemen, making them victims who believe these reports without further researching and examining them.

I know how the phobia of international support pressures some into concealing the truth and how the world does not ever expect that an authority would receive all this support after a peaceful and ethical revolution carried out by the youth that presented many dreams and aspirations they are eagerly waiting to be realised. However, the transitional authority has done nothing to realise any of these aspirations and has not accomplished any of its promises.

Maybe you should know the truth:

"We are facing a transitional authority that does not possess any political will to achieve change and advance Yemen and its people towards the future. It has not committed to change neither in terms of its tasks and responsibilities nor in terms of a specific time line."

The parties involved in the transition process, as well as the armed militias, have worked to destroy Yemen's opportunities that have stemmed from the peaceful revolution to bring Yemenis the prospects of free and dignified lives.

I find it necessary to remind the sponsors of the transition process in Yemen: "You promised to sponsor the transition process and the tasks and responsibilities were specified by the executive mechanisms, as well as the dialogue conferences. You warned anyone deviating from this would be punished for hindering the transition process without bothering yourselves to check whether or not the authority fulfilled its promises or if it carried out its tasks and responsibilities. Or have you put Yemen in a position between the "worst of both worlds"; an authority that does not carry out its duties and international sponsors who threaten those who protest with punishment on charges of hindering the democratic transition process?

Questions without answers

Who has asked the transitional authority what they have achieved, what has been neglected and overlooked and what are the responsibilities and tasks outlined by the comprehensive national dialogue conference document? Who has asked what new laws and legislations have been developed after the entire transitional phase has passed? Which institutions have been modernised and developed? How many corruption cases have been investigated? How many committers have been prosecuted? How much of the looted money was recovered? How many murder and crime cases have been investigated and were the necessary actions taken? What have you done in terms of economic reform, tax reform, the recovery of looted property, putting an end to tampering, transparency and the right of access to information?

The international sponsors promised to provide economic support and bring about change and development in the economy in order to keep up with the political transition process, but the sponsors provided very little in this regard. The Yemeni people have not experienced substantial economic improvement, nor have they seen any vital economic reforms that get rid of corruption and protect public property, as well as employing wisdom in the management, collection and spending of public funds. The sponsors have not provided any form of support, neither technical nor logistic, nor have they provided enough grants and funding to achieve balanced economic change that coincides with the desired and awaited political change.

The problem is not that Yemen does not have the potential and opportunities for advancement and stability, or that there are obstacles and challenges bigger than the transitional authority and its inability to accomplish them; the real problem is this authority's lack of political will to accomplish anything.

There are a few cases in which officials possessed the will to change and they made great changes in their institutions, including the new interior minister and before him, the Ta'izz security director who was appointed a few months ago. The security situation in Yemen in general, especially in Ta'izz, was very bad before these two officials were appointed. There were cases of murder and the destruction of public property and services on a daily basis, while the officials in these positions in the past were the last to know about what was going on, and if it weren't for the newspapers and social networking sites, we wouldn't have known anything about it.

However, are we being over-pessimistic? Is it befitting for a receiver of a Nobel Peace Prize and the daughter of the Arab Spring to feel pessimistic and frustrated?

On the contrary, I'm not pessimistic, nor do I feel desperate; I am confident about solving all of these dilemmas, but I know that there is no way to resolve the dilemmas before acknowledging them and knowing the details before proceeding, with the help of the peaceful youth, to fulfil the dream of our people and finishing what we started.

Am I preventing the flow of aid? Who said that the aid will flow in light of the corruption that is witnessed by the world? Instead of the transitional authority making an effort to improve standards, it doubled its failure and accumulated more cases of nepotism and corruption in the country. Weren't billions of dollars pledged in Riyadh during the transitional period and before that in London and New York? There have been promises and pledges that still haven't found their way into the Yemeni treasury, which is punctured on one side and it still hasn't found a way to close the gaping hole.

I am preventing the promotion of falsity in the world. I cannot remain silent in the face of shameless and ongoing corruption, while the corrupt, who have let down the ambitions of their people, are given a certificate of excellence and of good conduct. This is not fair. Do I regret the revolution? Of course not! I am proud of the revolution and believe it was necessary, and if I were to go back in time I would choose the revolution again. I would have been even more determined, insistent and courageous in the face of violence and oppression. I would encourage peaceful change and would engage in it.

The youth of the Yemen Spring, as with all the people of the Spring, took to the streets and chanted: "The people want the overthrow of the regime". They were not every concerned with the name of the regime's president. In fact, they were not after revenge as much as they were after achieving the dream of a better tomorrow, a tomorrow with freedom and a dignified life under a new and wise government. They were not concerned with the president except for the fact that the path to freedom starts with overthrowing the president, his family and his aides and replacing him with new rational and honest government and institutions. They then go on to holding the various elections in order for power to be passed on to these rational governing institutions.

Today, the unfavourable conditions and challenges come together to form a thick wall in the face of our ambitions and dreams for change. Despite its firmness and harshness, this wall will crumble in the face of our noble dream and will fall before our strong will. We will advance, with our great Yemeni people, towards a free and dignified future and the world will take pride in us as a peaceful nation worthy of respect, partnership and trust.


From: Al Araby Al Jadid (01/05/14)