Federation plan should be top priority in Yemen.
Serious negotiations between the government, local stakeholders and the Arab coalition focusing on the region-based solution - rather than southern independence - could provide greater stability and eventually offer a roadmap for peace.
Dr. Manuel Almeida
The Houthis and the southern separatist movement, at the time spearheaded by Al-Hirak, were the only two groups not to sign off the federation proposal. They remained attached to a vision of Yemen that probably no longer exists. The Houthis aimed to control as much territory as possible outside of their northern strongholds, and perhaps even revive the dominance of the northern Imamate. The southern separatists looked for a return to two states along the pre-1990 borders. Opposition to a Houthi-controlled north is a goal shared by virtually every group and political faction in Yemen. A strong signal of the difficulties the separatists would have in realizing their vision of a southern state was given in 2014 by the NDC representatives of the eastern governorates of Shabwah, Hadhramout and Al-Mahrah, formerly constituent parts of South Yemen, when they pushed for the creation of an eastern region. This would work decisively against the idea of a two-region federation that would almost inevitably lead to two separate states. The formation of the STC last May, however, reveals an even more complex situation in the south. Among its members are various former senior officials and governors of the southern provinces of Dhale, Hadhramout, Lahij, Al-Mahrah, Shabwah and Socotra, as well as Hani bin Breik, the prominent leader of a popular southern Salafist movement. The STC's leadership has, on occasion, talked about plans to hold an independence referendum in the south, in the hope that it would show that a majority supports a return to two states along the pre-1990 borders. The government rejects the possibility. It is hard to envision how the political and security conditions could be created for a meaningful referendum to be held. And a victory for southern independence - not a guaranteed outcome - would impose Aden's rule, a solution that many southern cities and militia leaders oppose, thus opening the door to new problems. A serious process of negotiations between the government, the various local stakeholders and the Arab coalition focused on the federation solution could provide greater stability in areas not under the control of the Houthis, and eventually offer a roadmap for peace. It would remove the pressure over Yemen's understaffed and overreached government, allowing it to focus on fewer and crucial matters such as humanitarian aid, defense and foreign relations. It would also force local authorities to step up and assume formal responsibility and accountability for areas under their control. Dr. Manuel Almeida is a political analyst and consultant focusing on the Middle East. He is the former editor of the English online edition of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper and holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Twitter: @_ManuelAlmeida
Copyright: Arab News [c] 2018 All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( Syndigate.info ).
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)|
|Date:||Feb 8, 2018|
|Previous Article:||King of Jordan arrives in Islamabad.|
|Next Article:||Extending Turkey's Afrin operation will pose major challenges.|