Fourteen months since the fall of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, the country is still grappling with huge uncertainty, and the popular uprising has failed to give the people what they expected to get from their protests. Now, many pundits cite Yemen as a good example of the failure of the Arab Spring movements to bring about revolutions and to change the political systems of Arab countries.
The ousted dictator is continuing to enjoy political immunity and his party will have the majority of seats in the national talks, which are scheduled to be held on March 18. Backed by Saudi Arabia, Saleh is regarded as the main impediment to political change.
During their demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, the Yemeni people admirably held peaceful demonstrations in a country which is known for its intense sectarian disputes. Salmiyah, salmiyah (peaceful, peaceful) was the people’s main slogan during the demonstrations in Yemen, a country where guns are readily available and there are reportedly more than 60 million guns in the hands of its citizens.
The peaceful demonstrations did actually succeed in bringing Saleh down, but the Saudis were lying in wait to engineer the process of change in Yemen, and the revolution was soon stolen by Saudi-backed armed gangs and rebels.
The Saudis and his other allies in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council helped Saleh gain political immunity amid fervent calls for the former Yemeni president to be arrested and prosecuted. He handed over power to his vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, who was given the task of organizing national talks and inviting all groups and parties to participate in the negotiations.
However, Saudi Arabia’s outdated diplomacy in Yemen is a major source of problems in the country. The Saudi princes are still following the policies of their father, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who believes that Yemen should always be kept in poverty. This has deprived the new president of the authority to maintain order in Yemen. From time to time, under the influence of the Saudis, Hadi justifies his inability to control the situation by blaming Iran for the unrest. His claims that Iran shipped arms to Yemen are so baseless that even Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa refuted the allegations in an interview with Al-Jazeera.
The Yemeni masses are embroiled in Saudi Arabia’s inefficient diplomacy, and the elites and intellectuals -- awash in Saudi dollars -- do not care about the political future of their country. There is almost no hope for the upcoming negotiations, and Yemen is far from the path of stability, which is necessary to establish an independent and democratic state.
Mohammad Farazmand is a political analyst who formerly served as Iran’s ambassador to Bahrain.
This article originally appeared in Persian on the website Iranian Diplomacy.
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