Yemen and the story of a revolution

April 27, 2011 - 0:0

Following intense domestically and internationally organized negotiations, Yemen's president has finally agreed to the conditional transfer of power.

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC), Yemen's national conference, and the revolutionary forces (the opposition) all took part in the negotiations.
The first roadmap proposed by the PGCC member states was rejected by the opposition as it did not clearly indicate the terms of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure.
The revolutionaries are demanding the prosecution of Saleh, changes in the constitution and free elections.
Under the terms of the first PGCC proposal Saleh was to remain in power until the end of his term in 2013. He was also to be stripped of his procedural authority.
But the people of Yemen found the proposal to be in favor of Abdullah Saleh and pressed for his removal and called for the fall his regime.
Finally, following numerous negotiations between the opposition and PGCC foreign ministers in Riyadh, the sides agreed to the removal of President Abdullah Saleh within 30 days. Based on the proposal, Saleh is to resign from all military and civil positions in Yemen as well.
Saleh, who has ruled over the Yemeni nation for 32 years, has turned the country into a hotbed of influence for his al-Hashed tribe. Most of the top military and government officials are from the al-Hashed and al-Ahmar tribe.
He continues to enjoy close ties with the Saudi royal family and has even housed fugitive elements of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization in the southern parts of his country at the request of the Saudis. Since Saudi Arabia was the birthplace of the al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization's members fled to Yemen following the September 11 attacks. During that period, Saleh began accepting financial aid from Saudi Arabia in exchange for giving refuge to al-Qaeda elements in the cities of Taiz, Makla, Hadramaut, and Aden in southern Yemen.
Saudi Arabia had expelled the fugitive al-Qaeda elements in order to enhance its relations with the US, which had recently suffered the September 11 attacks. And Saleh was in a way taking advantage of the presence of al-Qaeda elements on its soil by requesting aid from the U.S. and Europe.
Al-Qaeda's control over the strategic Bab-el-Mandab strait made shipping between the Red Sea and Arabian Sea insecure and threatened the interests of the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, Abdullah Saleh requested aid from both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda and received nearly one billion dollars in financial aid annually.
On the other hand, bearing in mind the influence of the al-Houthi Shia population in Saada, northern Yemen, Saudi Arabia has been to trying to disconnect its Shia population in the east from the al-Houthi tribes. During this era, Saudi Wahabis established over 400 schools to teach Salafi and Wahhabi ideologies in a bid to prevent the spread of Houthi influence in the region.
A vast area in the north of Yemen has been under the influence of violent Wahhabi leaders and Saudi Arabia during the Saleh-era.
These events started tension between Zeydi and Shia Houthi tribes in the north of Yemen to a point where a bloody war broke out between the Houthi tribes and the Yemeni government from 2005-2010. In this unbalanced war, the Saudi and Yemen militaries utilized vast resources at their disposal to massacre the Houthi Shia population.
After the war, Saudi Arabia gave the green light to Yemen to join the PGCC but the proposal was fiercely rejected by the other wealthy member states.
The average income per capita in Yemen is roughly USD1,100 per year. The average per capita income of the six PGCC member states is roughly USD 28,000. Therefore, Yemen was not able to join the PGCC despite following the policies of Saudi Arabia.
With the beginning of the popular uprising across Yemeni cities, Saudi Arabia tried to help quell the movement of the people by sending military aid and equipment.
These attempts not only failed to reduce the size of the protests but fueled the youth demonstrations to a point where protests engulfed Yemen from north to south.
The U.S. and the West, under Saudi influence, first tried to force Saleh into making symbolic reforms; but under severe pressure from the people, the U.S. and the West were forced to accept the agreement which stipulates the removal of Saleh from power.
Currently, Saleh only has a month to leave office and he is using this time to immune himself from criminal prosecution when he leaves office.
At the end, Saleh will have a fate similar to Hosni Mubarak of Egypt when he cedes power. Arab dictators, who oppressed their nation for decades, are becoming history one after the other.
With the departure of Arab dictators from the axis of power in the Middle East, the future political map will be drawn without the presence of the U.S. and the West and their propped up dictators.
Hassan Hanizadeh is the head of the Arabic service of the Mehr News Agency.
(Source: Press TV)
Photo: Yemeni soldiers stand in line at a barrier blocking a demonstration demanding the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz on April 26, 2011. (Reuters photo)