Federalism they say … How Yemen’s partition is being sold as the road to peace

SHAFAQNA – Under the unforgiving Sun of Southern Arabia, Yemen has been earmarked for much than just political annihilation … today, as a nation continues to face the barrel of Saudi Arabia’s gun, Western powers have devised the territorial fragmentation of Yemen.

What was once whole now needs to be divided for the sake of peace! As of May 2016 this is the narrative US officials have fronted – might it be during TV debates or so-called peace talks, politicians are pushing for balkanization.

Interestingly no one has bothered to tell us why. If Washington has become a grand propaganda master, it has yet to honed down its ability to demonstrate its rationale by using factual evidences.

A sovereign-nation Yemen needs not be balkanized to see peace triumph. For peace to be restored Saudi Arabia has only to recall its allies and bought-out mercenaries. For stability to return, Riyadh has only to quiet its canons and dissipate its radicals … territorial fragmentation will only weaken Yemen’s sovereignty.

Sovereignty of course is what Saudi Arabia, and its Western patsies are after … the well-being and future of Yemen does not exactly measure up before empires’ ambitions.

As of now Western logic holds that Yemen needs both a new institutional and political format to resolve its many crises, and quiet its inner divisions – of course no one is making any mention of the fact that Yemen was thrown in the fires of war courtesy of Saudi Arabia. If Yemen has been plagued by instability it is because Riyadh has played kingmaker and asymmetrical warfare.

It needs to be said that secession in Yemen has been spoken by Western officials, and Saudi proxies long before Yemen descended into chaos, thus pointing to a carefully sought-out design, rather than the result of ground developments.

I would personally argue that Yemen was declared war to so that its territorial integrity could be eroded, and its sovereignty challenged in the most violent way.

If you recall it all began in 2011, when, on the wake of 2011 uprising experts began theorizing on Yemen’s federalism – presenting the set-up North – South as the only pragmatic solution to a Yemen’s regional quarrel.

Yemen’s unification it needs to be said was always seen as a political abnormality – an exercise doomed to failure. In a research paper for the Middle East Journal, Charles Dunbar, the US Ambassador for Yemen in between 1988-1990 and 1990-1991 wrote the following: “The successful drive of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the People Democratic of Yemen (PDRY) to unify in the spring of 1990took observers both near and far by surprise …During the course of this author’s introductory calls as ambassador to Sana’a in the summer of 1988, two leading Yemeni officials predicted, that while there could be a détente in between north and south, real unity was at least 50 years away.”

This surprise Ambassador Mr Dunbar refers to might have been more deeply rooted than most experts ever anticipated – at least from a Saudi perspective.

From where Riyadh is standing a strong united Yemen presents a threat to Saudi Arabia’s hegemony in the region. And while al-Saud Royals may have been comfortable playing covert politics for a while, Yemenis’ desire to rid themselves of foreign patronage, and religious indoctrination prompted calls for an immediate cutting down to size.

During the 2013–14 National Dialogue Conference, a contentious proposal was pushed through by President Hadi for a six-region federal model. As a governance model, federalism has become a popular tool for policymakers working on peacebuilding processes in post-conflict states because it ostensibly provides voice to all parties to conflict, and can promote more accountable and inclusive governance. However, federalism is also a complex process fraught with difficulty, and one that is often extremely politicised.

Federalism here is to be understand as a euphemism for fragmentation.

In a report for Saferworld in 2015 Peter Salisbury argued that the focus on federalism as a solution to Yemen’s many problems was emblematic of the wasted opportunity of Yemen’s transitional period. “Diplomats, foreign advisers and Yemeni politicians devoted more energy to selling utopian long-term solutions than to addressing a deteriorating political, economic, security and humanitarian environment,” he explained. “Unless future administrations prioritise much-needed basic services for the entire population, no governance model can provide a peaceful future for the country. Failure to address these concerns will continue to lead those disillusioned with the transitional process to give up on the state and turn to non-state actors,” he stressed.

In other words: Yemen’s problems have nothing to do with its territorial set up!

Still we have been instructed that only secession will allow for peace. Interesting theory when southern Yemen stands de facto under al-Qaeda occupation.

Is Riyadh actively pursuing the inception of the first terror state?

By Catherine Shakdam –


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