A Retrospect on the Yemeni Revolution After a Year of Challenges

Article Summary
It has almost been a year after the Yemeni revolution was victorious over the tyrannical forces of the Saleh family, and it is now possible to examine the revolution’s achievements. The Joint Meeting of Parties’ success in getting Saleh to leave was equivalent to a second coup. There is reason to be optimistic for the future, writes Adel Muazzab.

Almost a year after the peaceful popular revolution in Yemen, we can now pause a little to examine and analyze the achievements of this blessed revolution, and identify the challenges and obstacles hampering the accomplishment of its other goals. [We will also] compare [the Yemeni revolution] with others that have taken place in the Arab region. Since its inception, the [Yemeni] popular revolution has been able to maintain a peaceful [character], despite the regime’s repeated attempts to drag it into a civil war. But all of these attempts failed in the face of the peaceful revolution. This [in itself] is a great achievement. Since it began in February last year, the youthful revolution was able to gain a wide [base] of supporters. The Friday of Dignity on March 18 - the day the heinous massacre was committed [by Yemeni regime loyalists] against the pure youths during Friday prayers as never witnessed in modern history - showed all Yemenis the [regime’s] other face of injustice and tyranny. [It also brought out] the [regime’s] thirst for the blood of innocent people. That tragedy was a historic moment which brought [all] segments of [Yemeni] society to sympathize with their children’s revolution. Major General Ali Muhsin Salih’s announcement that he was joining the revolution and [supporting] its demands and protection rocked the pillars of Saleh’s decaying throne.  He was followed by all free leaders of the military and security apparatuses, and encouraged others to support the peaceful revolution. Hundreds and thousands of resignations were subsequently announced across the country’s various squares in support of the [uprising].

The Yemeni Tribal Coalition also endorsed the revolution. [As a result], the squares were filled with members and chieftains of tribes. [These individuals] left their weapons at home and took to the streets to revolt with their bare chests and in the spirit of peace [that characterized] the revolution. Thus, they proved to the world that the tribes of Yemen are seeking change through peaceful [means] despite their possession of weapons. The youths and tribesmen intermingled and [shared their] cultural, social and political [experiences]. The variety in the types of [protest] had a significant impact [on the course of the revolution] and boosted its momentum. Supporters could no longer hold Friday prayers outside of the revolutionary squares. This strengthened their determination and encouraged other generations to demand freedom. [Some Yemenis even] took their children [with them to the squares] so that they could learn from the youth’s revolution.

Yemeni women also became advocates of the revolution. The role of [Yemeni women] in the demonstrations was no less than that of their [Yemeni] brothers. [They participated] in the tens of thousands like no other Arab state has ever witnessed before. Women’s demonstrations in Ibb, Ta’izz, Dhamar, Sanaa, Ma’rib, Hadramawt, Aden, Al-Mahrah, Qastarah, and all the cities of Yemen proved to the whole world that veiled Yemeni women were endowed with sufficient knowledge of political, social and civil rights.  This is what won [Yemeni] activist Tawakkul Karman her Nobel Peace prize.

Despite the world’s silence on the Yemeni revolution in past months - which allowed the remnants of the regime to [hijack its final course and determine its end] - the revolution was able to resolve its issues by operating along two tracks: The revolutionary track and the political track. This has been a pioneering [approach]. The Joint Meeting of Parties [JMP] and their allies managed through political action to expose the games the regime was playing that the youth was unaware of. Had the [JMP] politicians not had a deep understanding of [Yemeni] politics, they would not have been able to lure Saleh into [signing] the [GCC] initiative, which was basically equivalent to a [second] political coup. The [JMP] was able to overthrow Saleh at the lowest cost by employing the art of politics whenever possible, rather than through the bloodshed of Yemenis, both [loyalists and those in the opposition]. This is why there was coordination between the two sides. This would have been impossible had the two sides not previously agreed on a peaceful road map to bring the conflict to an end.

Today, one year later, we find that the revolution has achieved several things: The main goal of removing Saleh [from power], appointing the vice president who will be the sole legitimate president of the new Yemen on February 21, and forming a national consensus government. [This government] now endeavours to enact reforms in all governmental sectors through an institutionalization of the state. This will take the place of the arbitrary [model of governance] that prevailed [until now]. This is a healthy and important achievement. Employees of [government] institutions [have been inspired] to fight corruption - for which Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule was a paradise. [Former Prime Minister] Abdul Qadir Bajamal said that he who did not become rich during Ali Abdallah Saleh’s rule will not become so during his.

Civil institutions have joined the military in the revolution. Officers and individuals broke their silence and said “enough to thirty years of injustice.” The air force, police, moral authorities and others who will not back down until their institutions are purified and they receive their full rights.

Furthermore, the formation of a military committee oriented towards professionalism has served as a starting point to rebuild the military institution on a national foundation. [After all, the military] belongs to the people, protects them and preserves national sovereignty. [We] hope that efforts will be united toward restructuring the army [through] competent and national cadres that view the people through an equal lens, and do not hold allegiance to a particular president or a family. The revolution still faces many challenges, and conspiracies remain. [It also faces the threat of] the tripartite of Al-Qaeda, the so-called Ansar al-Sharia [supporters of Islamic Sharia] who have been handed over cities, and the Houthi movement which has been supported by Saleh’s son against the revolution. The remnants of the former regime were able to form an alliance against these groups.

This [violent] tripartite is also trying to obstruct the Facebook and [social media based] movement, and tirelessly seeks to derail the peaceful course of the revolution. The explosions that rocked the First Armored Division two days ago, the attempt to hand over Yemeni cities to Ansar al-Sharia, encouraging the Houthis to expand in Hajja and supporting them against the Salafists in Dammaj can be blamed on these [violent parties]. These are challenges to which all components of the revolution in the [protest] squares must be alert. [They will only be able confront these challenges] through unity, a rejection of all attempts to divide their ranks and by working together to ensure the success of the elections on February 21. [These elections] will mark the birth of a new Yemen.

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