Tribal sheikhs in Yemen launched an initiative designed to produce a just and practical solution to the crisis in the south. They called for “a political agreement between political parties in the north and south under the supervision of international mediator Jamal bin Omar and representatives of regional and international parties sponsoring the Gulf Initiative." They also suggested that the president and the national reconciliation government "issue a decision to draft a governance system that would preserve Yemen as a unified federal state, as opposed to two separate regions in the north and south.”
These 15 tribal sheikhs believe that their initiative will contribute to finding a way out this stalemate in the talks regarding the participation of the Southern Movement and the southern civil, political and social parties in the general national dialogue. They are also keen for the ongoing political process and the Gulf Initiative to succeed, holding out hope that the aspirations and hopes of the people — along with those of the regional and international community — will be fulfilled through the success of the transitional period and the protection of public peace.
The sheikhs’ initiative was announced on Nov. 22 in Sanaa. They said that ensuring the participation of the southern people of all political and social stripes in the national dialogue and the political process requires a political settlement prior to a dialogue to settle conflicts in the south.
They also felt that the voluntary unity that was established between the north and south pursuant to a political decision and popular demand from both countries on May 22, 1990, was dealt a severe blow in the war during the summer of 1994, and the subsequent tragedies and injustices in the southern and eastern provinces. This was the reason behind the emergence of the Southern Movement in 2007, which sought to establish a separate independent state.
The sheikhs also demanded that the state “settle grievances, restore rights, recognize martyrs and all abductees in different Yemeni provinces, in order to help heal the mental wounds. This would pave the way for a comprehensive dialogue, which must not exclude any party or have a demographic, geopolitical and historical bias towards either side, whether northern or southern.”
Finally, the sheikhs demanded that the national conference be delayed to allow time for a political agreement to develop and to take the necessary steps regarding the southern cause, and convince all parties to take part in the dialogue.
The most surprising thing is that the sheikhs who called for this initiative to solve the southern crisis — which has become the biggest challenge to overcoming the stalemate in the country — come from northern provinces in Yemen. They submitted their initiative to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, his government members, the Technical Committee of the National Dialogue, the sponsoring states of the Gulf Initiative, and Bin Omar — Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and his Special Envoy to Yemen.