There is no doubt that the Gulf Initiative could be seen as an expression of the Gulf leadership’s keenness to prevent Yemen from slipping into more violence. However, the Yemeni authorities have been committing violent acts for quite some time. This was made evident by their legitimization of the outcome of the 1994 civil war — they deemed it the end of history and at the apex of the nation’s achievements.
The authorities instigated violence by launching the six Saada wars, to address a contentious issue that had more to do with ideology than politics or security. There is also the time they launched a campaign to repress the peaceful Southern Movement, which was calling for the government to address their grievances relating to the 1994 civil war. Everybody knows that our Gulf brothers are not enamored of concepts such as revolution, freedom or democracy. However, this does not negate the goodwill behind their initiative, which was agreed to by the political forces in Yemen.
Thinking that the revolution’s primary demand was the removal of the president, our Gulf brothers may have expected the Yemenis to burst with joy in response to their Initiative. In fact, however, the youth — who have already lost hundreds to martyrdom, and who are willing to lose hundreds more for real change in the country’s political and legislative order — have completely rejected the Initiative. They would have only accepted it if it had included the full removal of the regime. Another condition they demanded was the conviction of the murderers and thieves who killed young people in the squares and looted the public treasury for the last 30 years. Perhaps our Gulf brothers thought that the head of the regime would thank them for sparing him the gallows for the crimes committed during his reign. They did not expect him to accuse the Gulf of being hateful and conspiratorial, and to follow these accusations by procrastinating in implementing the Initiative. This was the case even after the Initiative was signed, and Saleh had already stepped down from his post.
A number of participants in the national dialogue, including myself, submitted a proposal that would grant Saleh immunity on the condition that he retire from political life and public functions. It seems that the Initiative’s sponsors dealt with their beneficiary (Saleh) as if he actually were a person who knew how to respect himself, his partners or even his opponents. They did not seem to realize that they were dealing with a disingenuous man who only knows deception. This became clear when he requested that amendments be made to the Initiative, only to later reject the same amendments he himself had proposed. His deceit is clear even today, as he is still being asked to follow the Initiative’s terms.
Sadiq Abu Ras, a former minister, recently said that the Gulf Initiative was formulated by Saleh. I have also repeatedly said that it was Saleh who was shaping the Initiative, and that he was expecting the others to refuse his proposed changes. When they agreed, he reversed course and rejected his own amendment. And after this, he would then request another amendment!
The Gulf Initiative was approved by the political parties and rejected by the revolution’s youth: a contrast of two types of political thinking. The parties were betting on political consensus as a means for change, and the youth believed that the safest and most effective way to bring about real political change was the revolutionary approach. As they rejected the Initiative, I do not think that the youth knew the consequences that the regime’s skilled propaganda machine would have, or that the enemies of the revolution would renege on their promises.
Subsequent developments confirmed that betting on the decency and ethics of the ruling party at that time was foolish — it promised one thing and did the opposite. The ruling party did not stop the killings after it promised to do so. It promised to combat corruption only to enshrined it as an irreversible official policy. After it vowed to fight terrorism, the ruling party proceeded to hand over cities, provinces and stores of arms and ammunition to terrorists.
Regardless of the Gulf Initiative’s good intentions, a simple review of its outcomes reveals that the Initiative’s sole beneficiary was the regime and its head. Only Saleh received immunity from being held accountable for his transgressions against the people and their wealth. He continues with his policy of killing and waging wars. He still controls all the security and military institutions and uses them as if they were his private property. Half of the government and all of the administrative and executive apparatuses remain under his control. He persists in aiding terrorist organizations and provides them with assistance, hoping to thwart the attempts to restore the country’s stability and heal the wounds that he inflicted. Even though the head of the regime has stepped down, Saleh still controls the ruling party and is using it to blackmail the local, regional and international communities.
The revolution has gained nothing worth mentioning from the Gulf Initiative. Instead, the Initiative brought about more funerals and contributed to ongoing dismantling of Yemen. Meanwhile, Saleh is waiting for the right moment to pounce on the revolution, the Initiative, the national reconciliation government and even the current president, who is his former vice president. This is all so that Saleh, who some say is already deposed, can exact revenge for being deprived of his “right” to hand over the country to his children and grandchildren.
Despite the insults and accusations made by the head of the former regime against the Gulf Initiative’s sponsors, and despite their continual appeasement and approval of all his requests, I do not think that they are monitoring him closely enough to determine if he is adhering to the Initiative’s terms. Even though he abdicated from the presidency, he is still throwing up obstacles to thwart the efforts of the new president. The army brigades under the control of Saleh’s children are refusing to obey the orders of the current president or the defense minister. The recent assassination attempt on the defense minister in Abyan and Lauder was an example of this behavior, and this behavior will probably continue as long as the Gulf sponsors do not exercise serious pressure to implement the Initiative’s terms. These terms do not even satisfy all the demands of the revolution.
The threats from Saleh’s party against the head of the national reconciliation government and his cabinet exemplify Saleh’s desire to throw out the Initiative and turn the clock back to before January 15, 2011.
After all of the Gulf Initiative violations by Saleh, his party and his children, I do not see a single reason why the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and their partners should they themselves continue to adhere to Initiative. It would be beneficial for the JMP to reveal the truth about what is going on to the international community. Instead, they stick to a partnership that one partner is doing everything in his power to thwart, hoping to turn the clock back to before the Initiative was signed.