Yemen and the federal system

It does not matter whether the regime is republican, royal, centralized, federal, socialist or capitalist. What’s more important is the central government’s capability to achieve justice and enjoy the approval of citizens. North Yemen was an inanimate regime until 1962. It became a republic following the first President of the Yemen Arab Republic Abdullah al-Sallal’s revolution. South Yemen was a British protectorate.

In 1967, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was established and a Marxist-Leninist regime was adopted. The Yemenis suffered of a long history of struggles between the two sister republics. After the Soviet Union collapsed, North Yemen seized the chance and unified with South Yemen.

The unification’s celebrations didn’t last for long and a bloody struggle among the different partners erupted, ending with the southern leadership’s defeat. The history of struggle is long; therefore it will not be easy for the Yemenis to overcome a legacy of tribal, regional and personal disputes.

Their only way to do so is to recognize this legacy and embrace the concept of the modern state which the United Nations participated in drawing via its delegate Jamal Benomar.

New plan

Yemen’s new plan is to become a federal state of six regions with Sanaa as a capital that is administratively independent. Yemeni affairs experts must have reached this suggested map after studying several complicated options.

The Yemenis have proven to be more civilized than others. Their revolution was peaceful and transition of power was peaceful

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

If the mediators had listened to all demands, the Yemenis would not have agreed to the number of regions they want. During Britain’s last years of governance over the South, they agreed to establish the Federation of Arab Emirates of the South in which the federation includes 24 chiefdoms but only four of them were agreed. Therefore Yemen can be divided into 100 regions and everyone would still be dissatisfied. A practical model that can be developed or amended as per a constitution that allows future review of the regional borders and jurisdictions was thus a must.

The real problem

Yemen’s real problem today is establishing a real state with civil and modern institutions that save a highly-populated country with little resources from administrative backwardness. Sudden fighting is not a coincidence as it aims to sabotage the plan of the historical transition and the establishment of the modern Yemeni state.

Those behind this fighting is the former regime’s group, as it funds the fighting and incites against the current interim regime and wants to thwart the entire new plan, in order to restore power that was taken away from it. It is important to remember this group that is risking all granted amnesty and immunity for more than $17 billion that it stole and hid in secret western accounts.

The patience of Yemenis will eventually come to an end, with superpowers also now totally convinced that the problem lies in the former leadership and they are ready to internationally act against them. We hope the vandals think well before they continue to support and incite those who reject transition and to fund tribes against one another.

State building

The Yemeni people deserve to have their chance to build their state and peacefully co-exist among all the country’s components.

The Yemenis have proven to be more civilized than others. Their revolution was peaceful and transition of power was peaceful. They were above vengeance and the Yemeni revolution remains the best Arab revolution despite domestic and foreign attempts to thwart it.

We think the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) duty will be bigger later as it is the one which sponsored the Yemeni people’s demands for change, and it was an impartial mediator and it participated in sponsoring the transition on the political and economic levels during the past two years.

We look forward for the council's support of the plan of develop and rehabilitate Yemen and link it to the Gulf’s economy. The country’s stability is a guarantee for the Gulf’s stability, and it is worth noting that Yemen will eventually become a member of the GCC.


This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 13, 2014.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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