ISSN 2330-717X

Yemen And The Return Of The Dictator – OpEd

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By Hassan Hanizadeh

Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress has announced that it has made the preparations for the return of the country’s dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to the capital, Sana’a.

On June 3, he was seriously injured by a bomb blast at the presidential palace and sent to a hospital in the Saudi capital of Riyadh for treatment.

The incident also inflicted serious injury on the prime minister, the speaker of parliament, the deputy prime minister and Sana’a’s governor.

Now, after nearly two months of treatment, Saleh intends to return and take back the reins.

According to article 116 of the constitution, Yemen has to hold presidential elections in Saleh’s absence, should his failure to govern the country exceed two months. Hence his seeking to return within the stated limit.

The dictator’s potential reappearance would severely afflict Yemen with crisis and create the prospect of tribal strife.

Yemen’s social and tribal texture and the different tribes’ possession of more than 60 million firearms and semi-heavy weapons sets the scene for long-term tribal warfare.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has always been trying to prevent the formation of a parliamentary and democratic system in Yemen. This has been due to Riyadh’s desire to claim some of the country’s territory and its fear that the developments there affect the Saudi nationals.

The complexity of the political and social state of affairs in Yemen has prevented political observers from being able to realistically analyze the country’s future.

But the bulk of players on Yemen’s political arena come under domestic, regional or international categories.

Domestically, the ruling system, which has been directing Yemen’s destiny for more than 33 years through the use of violence, has been able to use the armed forces and security organizations to crush the popular uprisings.

Most ranking generals, who usually wield the means of exercising power, are from the Hashid tribe affiliated to Saleh.

Furthermore, the tribes, which in some way possess local clout to direct social affairs, play an important role in the shaping up of domestic developments.

For the same reason, the tribes affiliated to the government structure have now stood against the youth’s revolution and stalwartly support Saleh’s dictatorial regime.

Regionally, the Persian Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, play an extraordinary role in the precipitation of the crisis.

These states strived to keep Saleh at the helm of power by proposing various schemes at the beginning of the Yemeni revolution.

According to these plans, Saleh was supposed to remain in power until the end of his presidency in 2012 and hand political control over to the next president after general elections are held.

But the scheme was thwarted as a result of the escalation in protests by the Yemeni youths and the intensification of popular demonstrations in different cities of the country.

Yemenis are well aware that Saudi Arabia, as an ally of Saleh, fears any change in Yemen’s political structure.

Saudi Arabia, which represents a tribal system, is terrified at the prospects of the establishment of a democratic regime in Yemen, as this may exert a considerable effect on the Saudi Arabian society.

Internationally, the United States and the West in general oppose any fundamental change in the political structure of Yemen, conceiving that the overthrow of Saleh’s regime may invigorate the presence of al-Qaeda in areas close to and overlooking the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.

The US would like a powerful military person, who can afford to contain the influence of al-Qaeda in the southern parts of Yemen, to seize power in the country.

Therefore, after the departure of Saleh from Yemen, the US was considering a military option, which was foiled by the continuation of popular demonstrations.

In other words, the formation of a group of revolutionary youths to protect the attainments of the Yemeni popular movement caused the US to set aside the military coup option temporarily.

Now that Saleh plans to return to Sana’a after almost two months, Yemen has entered a critical phase.

In the run-up to the possible return of the Yemeni dictator, the country has been divided into two poles, with one opposing his comeback and the other approving it, and this is expected to seriously challenge the security and unity of Yemen.

In the event of Saleh’s return, there is the possibility that Yemeni tribes enter an armed conflict, which will increase the risk of the disintegration of the country.

Given that Saudi Arabia is behind the violent and deadly incidents in Yemen and also plays an important role in empowering al-Qaeda in Aden and Zinjibar regions, one may argue the return of Yemen’s dictator will pave the way for the division of the country into southern and northern parts.

Disintegrating and weakening Yemen constitute a key part of Saudi Arabia’s policy as it is averse to seeing Yemen enjoy an acceptable degree of political stability and unity.

In such an atmosphere, the Yemeni youths should seize the initiative from the Saudi-dependent tribal leaders and take into their own hands, by forming revolutionary councils, the task of running the country.

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Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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