Yemen: New Shift of Power

Where to start!?

The two months in Yemen have been a complete, intense roller coaster ride. Houthis, a Shiite group, “invade” Sanaa city in mid September, claiming to continue the “revolution for change” in Yemen by setting up tents around the main airport road, flooding the streets with armed men (even kids), and taking over the 1st Armored Division claiming it to be the “21st of September” national park. For those who are not aware, on September 21st, the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA), a U.N backed deal was signed by all political fractions of Yemen, including the Houthis, to prevent further escalation of camps by Houthis and to form a new government in accordance to the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC).

That first paragraph wasn’t that bad, right? But wait, it’s not that simple!

There’s multiple questions to be asked and I am sure many Yemenis are asking themselves the same thing: What’s next?

Observations

There are some observations I have noticed prior to the “Houthi invasion” – so to speak. Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a prominent Houthi activist and representative for his group traveled to Tehran, Iran at the end of June. He flaunts about his trip to Iran and posts multiple pictures in his “Timeline” album on Facebook. To make life simple, click here for an example. On July 19th, he visited Dubai as well, again, flaunting a photo on this date in his “Timeline” album in front of the largest tower in the world, “Burj Khalifa.”

Why does the Dubai trip send off an alarm for me? It’s simple: Ahmed Saleh. Some people may have forgotten, but General Ahmed Ali Saleh (ex-president Saleh’s son) was sworn in as Yemen’s newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Yemen in the United Arab Emirates. Maybe I may overanalyze some movements by political leaders, but this to me, screams “ALERT.”

The timetable in which Ali Al-Bukhaiti traveled to Iran and Dubai are relatively close. Although I don’t have any magical powers to know for sure what happened in those two trips, most likely and I can almost guarantee it that Ali Al-Bukhaiti met officials in Iran and talked about Iran’s future in Yemen, while also planning this houthi coup with them as well. As for his trip after Iran to Dubai where Ahmed Ali Saleh is based, this also rings a bell that Ali Al-Bukhaiti’s talks were then switched over to Ahmed, in which they both agreed of the coup for both Iran and GPC’s interest to overrun the Islah party and diminish their power.

Following those two trips by two months, the very smooth and well planned Houthi invasion in Sanaa occurred and not shockingly, Islah and the Al-Ahmar clan was the target. The major and most important target was Ali Mohsen’s 1st Armored Division. After they successfully took over that division, Ali Mohsin fled from Sanaa to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pleased that Houthis are targeting Islah because its the “Muslim Brotherhood” of Yemen.

Clearly, what shows here is that the GPC, Ahmed Saleh and even Ali Saleh want to clear their path to Yemen towards power again. Many questions arise here and this is, will Ahmed Ali Saleh pave way to the presidential chair, after Pres. Hadi? Will the Houthis be a temporary ruling part in Yemen while Ahmed Ali
Saleh paves its way to the presidential chair? Will the GPC then, rival the Houthi group out of power in the near future? Will Houthis be a long term friend for Saudi or will they be friends just until Saudi reaches its goals to fully kill Islah power in Yemen? GPC and Houthis are noticeably working hard together for their interests.

Southern issue

This is quite tricky, especially because Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi movement, always addresses the southern case in his public speeches, which he says, “That all their demands will be met.” Is this the truth or just a political move to gain support?

There are some unconfirmed news that there are a few officials who are in Aden after the houthi invasion. In fact, some say that Hadi’s eldest son is in Aden currently. Hooriyah Mashhour has published a few tweets stressing the importance of the southern case and that she stands with the southern people for their demands and rights. Timing sounds fishy, doesn’t it?

What happens to the south? Will the south succeed in separation? Well, if Ahmed Ali Saleh comes back to power, will he let south separate by choice? I doubt that. If south separates, will Saudi let the south flourish? I doubt that, too. It’s constant loopholes that both sides of Yemen are trapped in. Will the south be a safe haven for officials? Absolutely.

Please take note: Hadi will never ever succeed in South Yemen. Southerners always considered Hadi weak in personality and the fact that he was VP for ex-president Saleh all these years just makes southerners hate him even more.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi is playing a dangerous game in Yemen, with the big gamble of ending the Islah party from major power. The risks are too high, yet they seem to accept and “welcome” the PNPA agreement signed by Houthis with other political factors in Yemen. While trying to battle Syria, how will they control Houthis and to some extent, Iran from increasing their influence in Yemen? Saudi’s southern borders will most likely be effected by this but to what extent? As all of us know, Saudi would do anything in their power to protect their borders from Iranian influence.

Interestingly enough, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Zarif and his Saudi counterpart Suad Al-Faisal met in New York on the 21st of September, hinting a new relationship on the surface between Iran and Saudi because of recent developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. I believe Saudi is forced to reach agreements and talks with Iran because their borders are at risk. This may explain the welcoming of the PNPA agreement between Houthis and the Yemeni parties.

Conclusion

The main reason why many Yemenis are sleepless and confused by the recent events in Yemen is because we aren’t used to such lightening-fast changes, which were highly unexpected. It still feels like we are in a dream and we want to wake up, but can’t. Northern states have always conflicted with Houthis and their province of Saadah, and so for Houthis to be a main group in the political arena over night, is just too much to handle.

There are many bargains, conflicts that can erupt, but I believe that such events will lead to pressured talks with Saudi and Iran. We may sleep overnight and wake up to presidential elections and the resignation of Hadi. We may wake up to Ahmed Ali Saleh becoming president, too. Who knows!

The Increasing Hate between Muslims

In recent months, as we have seen the Middle East crumble because of unfortunate political events, there has been an increasing trend of hate between Muslims themselves. It seems the more Muslims suffer, the more Muslims go against each other. This is the realistic, yet saddened stage of the Ummah.

Sunni vs Shia conflicts have arisen much more than what they have been. To be frank with you, I was 16 years old (turning 17) when the Yemeni revolution took place and it was then when I found out that there are different branches of Islam. You must think I’m lying, but I wish I was. I remember a young woman who had started a conversation with me in Manhattan one day asking me where I am from and I had replied, “I am from Yemen but I’m sure you don’t know where that it is” and she went on saying, “Are you Shia or Sunni?” I had looked at her in a puzzled way and waited a few seconds to reply, “I am Muslim, why?”

That was the day that I had found out about branches of Islam. It was an awkward situation, but thankfully, I was taught by parents who never divided us and ‘them.’ In fact, I was taught to never differentiate between groups of people, whether Atheists, Christians, Jews, etc. I still see them as people of God, no matter what.

That is the basic foundation of Islam.

Clerics have took extreme advantage of their titles and spread hatred against Muslim brothers and sisters. Yes, these are the clerics of 2014 (updated version). There is nothing else that irks me more than clerics who show anger to their audience and spread fitnah (lies). In Surat Al-Baqarah (aya 191) God says, ” For Falsehood (Fitnah) is worse than killing.” Falsehood has been used to separate many families, couples and overall, the Muslim society. Respected clerics have clearly showed their true face by going against God’s peaceful path. Yes, I said it. Many clerics have damaged the unification of their own people.

We are flawed people. Sunnis are flawed and Shias are flawed. Each group believes its going on the straight path, yet they are in the deepest of troubled waters.

Has hatred been taught by the Prophet Muhammed? Not at all. Actually, he showed tolerance and acceptance to the Jews and Christians. In fact, he married a noble Jewish woman, “Saffiyah.” If the Prophet showed respect towards the Jews, than how in the world would you believe that calling against the separation of Muslims is alright?

Secondly, God has always promoted the unification of his people. As He says in Surat Al-Imran (Aya 103) “Hold fast together to the rope of God and be not divided. Remember the blessing that Allah bestowed upon you: you were once enemies then He brought your hearts together, so that through His blessing you became brothers.”

God did not say, “Hate your Shia or Sunni brothers and call upon hate between the two.” I am disgusted by the ridicule, violence, hatred, discrimination towards other sects of Islam. Absolutely shameful to know that this is who we have become!

I have no doubt that the prophet and God are looking down upon us in disappointment. I am not a scholar, nor do I have the mere qualifications to be a religious “teacher” because I surely am not. I am here to tell you that God does not promote hatred between Muslims, so why on earth would Muslims and Clerics think they have the privilege to promote such atrocious ideologies?

If you still believe that promoting hatred against your Muslim brothers and sisters is perfectly OK, then please sit down by yourself and rethink what Islam really is and how you don’t give the religion a good image.

I see Facebook posts about going to the Mosque and learning about peace in Islam, and then 2 minutes later I see the same people commenting on a post, cursing and shaming a Shia or Sunni for being a Shia or Sunni! It’s absurd. How about a Cleric tearing while saying a decent Duaa about the unification of Muslims and then quickly slipping the “and let Shia-ism stay away from us” sentence at the end. How about praying for our hearts to mend into one? How about praying for the unification of Muslims? How about Clerics stop being political for once in a lifetime – at least for the sake of peace.

As disappointed as I am, I have realized that as time goes on by, it’ll only get worse. That’s because we have let hatred overpower love. On the same path, we have let our pride and selfishness think we can over-power God’s words. We have forgotten that we are ALL Muslims. We are ALL children of God. It is not our job as insignificant human beings (compared to Him) to judge a person and claim he is going to Hell or Heaven. God is merciful and God is All Judging. I don’t recall God giving us the power to judge.

I believe in kindness, unity, respect and tolerance for all people – after all, this is what Islam is really about!

Peace out peeps!

Yemeni Revolution and Its Third Anniversary

Yemen has reached its 3rd anniversary of the Yemeni uprising. Today not only makes me happy to the see the masses of people out in the streets remembering this day, but it gives my heart warmth to see that people are still awake even after three years of political roller-coasters and constant worry about their future.

Image

The masses of people who stood up against the wrongdoings of their government shows the power and resilience of our Yemeni people. We have been through three decades of dictatorship, corruption and unfair treatment by the central system. We have been told  empty promises by our ex-president. Instead of giving us the opportunity to build our lives, he had took away our dreams. Instead of giving us hope, he gave us sorrows. Instead of understanding us and our complaints, he continued to steal our lands and income. Instead of being happy with our president, he made us overthrow him.

Three years later, the people of Yemen show no sign of giving up. Hundreds of martyrs later, people are awake and ready to take the streets again if for any reason they have to. This is the country known to be heavily weaponized. This is the country that holds the most peaceful people, too! Although Yemen holds about 73 million pieces of guns, the people of Yemen would rather use their voices as a weapon to terrify and shake the core of the government.

May this day be the remembrance of not only a life changing historic event, but a remembrance of what the people died for. Our people didn’t die just because they wanted to. Our people died because they believed in something more: change for the better of their countrymen and women. They carry a legacy and our job is to carry on that legacy and do our best to implement their visions for a better homeland for the rest of us. This is our duty for those who died and for the new generations to come.

Here’s a poem I wrote (which was previously posted):

I give you a rose and you respond by shooting me down with a bullet.
I give you a smile and you respond with tear gas.
I stand in front of you and your army and you respond with a water canister.
I sit down peacefully in my protesting square and you respond with live ammunition from tanks. 
I shout a revolutionary slogan and you respond with a stick. 
I’ve responded with tears, silent tears. But you then respond with torture.
My response is peaceful…yours was brutal.
I’m a revolutionary.

The Grievance of Ibrahim Mothana

September 5th, 2013 was the day that I will never forget. A soul has surprised us by leaving this world earlier than we can ever imagine.

It’s almost been five months since you’ve departed from us, Ibrahim. Time flew by, didn’t it? All the work that you put into this world suddenly is only becoming a memory. What an intelligent human being you were, brother. I can remember us walking in Manhattan towards the train from a cafe we sat down in with other Yemeni activists. Little did we know that you would be forever gone the following year.

I can remember coming back from a wedding that night thinking that the day was a beautiful and joyous one – until I went on my laptop to Facebook. Little did I know that that was the saddest and most shocking nights of my life. I can still remember reading, “Rest in peace, Mothana”. That first post I’ve seen upon opening my homepage. It was then when I dropped my wallet and shoes so suddenly to the floor. It was that moment where my mind went blank and the only thing I said, “No, this cannot be true. That’s impossible…It must be a rumor”. Unfortunately, I realized it wasn’t a rumor and it was true.

As you suddenly left us, we’ve been missing a bright star.

Aside of Yemen and all its political messes, you’ve taught me a lesson: Smile!

But above all, bro, you taught me that in an instant, my life can be taken away just like yours. In an instant, all the work that I have done in this life will only serve people as a memory and the only thing that will be remembered is my name.

The only one who will not forget you or your actions is God. People, they just come and go. But God is the one who watches you since the day you were born and until the day you are brought back to him.

With every prayer, Ibrahim, I pray for you. With every smile, I see you. With every laugh, I see you.

It’s not the work that you’ve done for Yemen that should be remembered solely, but rather your character and pure heart. It’s not the jokes that should be remembered solely, but the kindness that you spread to others.

See, Ibrahim, you’ve been gone for almost five months and Yemen is on its way to better days. This world is nothing but just a short trip to our real destination. You’ve arrived before us. I’m sure the only thing that you want and will benefit from now is not where Yemen and its people are heading to, but prayers that will help ease the way to this new destination of your soul. It’s your deeds that will be accounted and our prayers (that we should continue) for your soul at the end of the day. This is why until I take my last breath, I will pray for you, even if you aren’t surrounding us in this life. This is what everyone who cared about you should do.

As God says in the Quran, “And that human being can have nothing but what he has earned (good or bad)” 53:39

اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِفُلَانِ وَارْفَعْ دَرَجَتَهُ فِي الْمَهْدِيِّينَ وَاخْلُفْهُ فِي عَقِبِهِ فِي الْغَابِرِينَ وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلَهُ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ وَأَفْسِحْ لَهُ فِي قَبْرِهِ وَنَوِّرْ لَهُ فِيهِ

“O Allah, forgive (name of the dead person). Make him among the guided ones, raise his status and be his deputy among the grieving. O Lord of the two worlds, forgive us and him and make his grave wide and full of light”.

Transcript: Peacekeeping Development through Education and Transitional Justice in the Middle East

On December 12th, 2013 I had given a speech at an event called “Women for World Peace” by EBADER based in Istanbul, Turkey. Not a detailed speech, but it touched up on certain issues that is key to helping stabilize post conflicted countries after the Arab Spring.
(only 15 minutes to talk)

| Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to be speaking in front of you all today, in an event that is attended by individuals that believe in changing the world to a much more safer, peaceful environment for all.

Now, I’m sure many of you have been keeping an eye on the news and all that is happening around the world. One of the most important regions, I believe, is the Middle East. What happens in the Middle East, will not only effect those in the region but also everyone else in the world. We have to understand that the Middle East is the center of all global affairs. Therefore making this region more of an importance to find solutions to its current obstacles and difficulties.

Not too long ago, there was a surprising movement that no one would of thought would ever take place in the MENA region. That is what is know as the “Arab Spring”. It took one person to start a significant movement across this great region. I say with a heavy heart, it started with a man who set himself on fire in Tunisia. This action done in Tunisia not only sparked a movement of people but it revealed the severity of issues such as corruption, injustices and even unemployment. After two weeks, their president (who is now the former president), Ben Ali, stepped down.

Little did we know, this movement became a domino effect to other countries like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and even Bahrain. Unfortunately, Syria at the moment is rubble due to a civil war that the country is currently in. Egypt, too, is suffering from a military rule that is not only hurting the way of life for Egyptians, but is dimming hope for a real government. Yemen, on a more personal note is my homeland. I remember coming home from my high school, as a junior, watching a CNN live feed of a massive peaceful protest in the capital city of Sanaa – I had watched in shock. The reason why I was shocked was because I thought we would end up in a civil war just like what we have seen in Syria. See, ladies and gentlemen, Yemen holds around 72 million pieces of guns; which is around three times the size of the population. Thankfully, we chose the peaceful route, and will always remain peaceful. What makes Yemen more of a unique country is that the women were on the front lines of protests. Coming from a conservative country, this was a very controversial action done by our women. But despite its controversy, they continued to be the important role that Yemen needed to break its barriers on conservatism and activism. Since that live feed, in early 2011, I have flown to Yemen more than 7 times, observing the negative and positive changes in the county that is effecting necessary further change towards a peaceful, democratic state.
I’m more than proud as a Yemeni woman to see my own people, hand in hand, go against a three decade tyrant that no one would of dared speak up against during the past. But like the other countries that had been claimed by the Arab Spring, Yemen, too, is dealing with obstacles that is hurting its road to stability.

Since the Arab Spring movement, I have observed the failed steps that countries aren’t implementing to help end their current political turmoil. Three most important steps for transitional justice are, for instance:

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE:
ICC: International Criminal Court. This court is there for a reason and its reason is to prosecute criminals, as high leveled as government officials, for any types of abuses. This is a crucial and needed step to actually move forward in countries that have dealt with any type of conflict. It can help give closure, for example, to those who have been effected by such criminals, while giving new hope about law and punishment in countries that need stability and peace.

INSTITUTIONAL REFORM: It seems like the Middle Eastern government like skipping the ICC, to only dive into institutional reform. I find that astonishing. It’s unfortunate that after the acclaimed Arab Spring countries, many governments still hold almost the same individuals that were there in the past. There was no significant change that was needed to start a country from the start, with the needed and necessary moves to establish new governments in the regions. What we need is new individuals who can take responsibility of their country and their citizens to establish the path to democracy. We aren’t going to see new changes unless we get rid of the old regimes and elect new faces in the country. Let’s not forget that the goal in the Arab spring was “change”.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES: To be quiet frank, the Middle East is no stranger to human rights abuses. It’s something that happens on a daily basis, even after the revolutions took place. To tackle these abuses, its critical to form investigative committees that will investigate minor and major abuses done by the centralized and/or local governments. Once reports and evidence is given, they must take this action to a higher court in the country or, if necessary, to the ICC. That way, judicial consequences are taken place against those individuals. It will also set an example to anyone else who will likely abuse human rights in their country. This team will result in the outcome of positivity in the country because citizens will then learn to trust and respect the government and be an example to other neighboring countries: with every law broken, no matter who you are, there are consequences. In other words, no one is above the law.

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While we know that a new set of governments, law and order, should be implemented in post conflicted countries, it’s as important and if not, more important to educate people, young or old. Middle East is unfortunately not the finest in education. I did not expect any type of educational reform in a region where countries and even their own citizens do not take education as an important universal human right. Little do they know, that education is the new pave way for a brighter future for the generations to come. This is a crucial and strategical point to discuss because education will promote economic development and even equality between both the male and female genders. In fact, if we don’t consider education important in the lives of people, than all the hard work that many have fought for since 2011, will not develop into the changes they want to see. Statistically speaking, the Middle East has a good percentage number of enrollment in schools in the Arab World for primary, secondary schooling but declines after. But in my opinion, I always believe the saying, “Quality over quantity.” And that’s exactly what is the lacking factor in the Arab World. It’s not the enrollment, but rather the quality of the education given. The only way to change a society is not fundamentally through politics, but rather through education. It’s key to development and until we take the quality of education seriously in the Middle East than all our aspiration to change will not succeed.

I hope with these points we will understand the issues in this great region and we will solve them, one step at a time, to see the Middle East flourish to its full potential. The people in this region have been through many conflicts that has effected their daily lives. I believe there is high hopes, especially with the youth. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they need our help to give them that support system to create a beautiful and stable future that we need.

As the late Nelson Mandela once said, “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”

Thank you very much.

Yemen: Emotional Resentment (Sociological Perspective)

Yemen has been going through a whole lot for the past three decades, leading to an unfortunate rise in emotional resentment in regards to politics in the region.

The famous South vs. North of Yemen is in the air and I can safely say its increasing. Since I’m southern, I can speak on my “sides” behalf (as southerners say). One must admit that anger, frustration and even rage is taking over the mindset of the people in the southern region. Emotions can make many situation meaningful, but it can also make some situations ugly. I believe people are changing the Herak movement in a sense where it’s only projecting resentment. Do I blame them? Not at all. In fact, it’s possible when it comes to a movement so close to people. Sadly, I think this resentment that has settled in their mindset at the moment is what’s damaging our southern provinces and people, societally and also mentally.

Many southern people will disagree and say its not resentment, but that’s the usual answer I get and will always get. But here’s my theory on this: Emotions can sometimes blind you in a way where you don’t realize the wrongs and rights of what you are aiming or wanting for. Anger, frustration and dislike leads to hate/discrimination. I’m not sure if you take this seriously, but I surely do. Discrimination not only ruins a society for one generation, but rather, it passes on from generation to generation. Some may disagree and consider this debatable by explaining this type of situation in Yemen is prejudice issues – but at the end of the day, it still looks down upon certain groups, individuals and even opinions.

I don’t want to write about the political history of Yemen before 1994 or even after that unification year just because we all know what happened. I’m going to discuss the issues undergoing the sociological system in the southern and northern region: Discriminatory. Believe it or not, It’s in the northern region too, but it may be just lighter in terms of resentment. I’ll also touch on whats called, “Conflict Theory” in a sociological perspective.

You may want to ask yourself why I defined the sociological system in the region as ‘discriminatory”. If you think about it for a few minutes, you can ask yourself as southerners or northerners (as long as you are a human at this point) why has discrimination increased in Yemen? See, we have intertwined our world politically that we can’t sense what we are teaching the people around us: What to hate and who to hate. Southerners, because you have been victimized by a horrendous government and main tribal shiekhs who are also intertwined in the government, in Sanaa*, you ‘dislike’ Northerners. Now, Northerners, a few people I have crossed paths with believe that we have been saved by your side of Yemen when unification was officially announced. Others see that the hate by southern Yemenis towards your side of Yemen is unfair, in which you automatically dislike southerners because its either you don’t understand why they are upset or because you just don’t like it. This absolutely doesn’t go to everyone on both sides. It depends on how you view and choose your stance politically. There are people who just love peace and want Yemenis to be happy (like myself) who defend what is right and just but do not support discrimination.

I’m going to give you TWO examples that I have been through in both Sanaa and Aden when it comes to discrimination:

1) Four months ago in Sanaa, I sat down in a taxi and I explained to him I would like to go to Bab Al-Yemen. He right away said, “Sure no problem sister”. About five minutes later, he asked me where I was from? I replied back saying, “I’m from Yafae”. One minute later, he had said that he couldn’t take me to Bab Al-Yemen because he had promised his friend that he would meet up for lunch. The excuse made me laugh a little and I said, “Don’t worry about it. I will find someone else or I will rent a car. Have a good lunch with your friend.” As I stepped out of the cab, I didn’t know where I was but I had taken a moment to think about this situation and laughed it off because I knew why he most likely let me go out of the cab. That’s ok, I found another cab driver and went about my day in Bab Al-Yemen.

2) Three months ago in Aden, I decided to drive my car to Al-Mansoora during the early morning of July 7th, which is a main day for southerners because this was the day when Aden was captured by the north (during civil war ’94). During which, civil disobedience was taking place. I was watching Aden Live (known to be pro-separation) before I stepped out to see what the situation outside of the walls of my home were like. While driving to Al-mansoora’s famous street, also known as “Jail St (Shara’e Al-Sijn), I parked my car and turned off my engine. My car windows were tinted and had a Sanaa #2 license plate. I wanted to see what would happen if someone sees my license plate. I gave myself 15 minutes to park before heading out back home and within 10 minutes, I have seen a young guy look at my car suspiciously, as if something was wrong with it. While I look back at him from the side and rearview mirrors, I suddenly hear a thumping noise on my car tires. I waited for him to finish up the testing of my good tires and then I start to realize he wants to then slash them. This is when I turn on my car and lower my window and look at him saying, “Hey, how are you? Is there something wrong with my tires?” He looked at me shockingly and said, “No, actually they are in good shape!” I gave him a smile and explained that it’s not right to do such actions because you think I’m from Sanaa, nor was it ok for you to do it on any northerner. Further, I had explained that I was actually from Yafae and he was surprised. I continued, “You shouldn’t judge by a license plate and you shouldn’t hurt anyone or their belongings because many of us, both northern and southern people, have no tie to the government or the Al-Ahmars. He walked away nodding.

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Sociologically speaking, media plays a role on this ongoing problem in Yemen. It’s an easy tool to make people think a certain way. Two perfect examples would be Yemen TV and Aden Live channel; two total different agendas as you can imagine. That being said, it attracts two different groups. Thus, separating people by two different ideologies and opinions to make you more or less emotional towards a situation or group. The other main influence of discrimination in Yemen would be by family members, friends and even the community you are living in. It’s all about location, location and location! At the end of the day, it’s what you hear and how many times you hear it. Let’s be logical here and ask ourselves would a 6 year old really have an opinion on unity or separation? What about an 8 year old in regards to who she likes or hates in the government and even in general, if she likes the government or not. Parents usually explain to their kids their OWN opinion and it settles in their childrens head, making them believe something they aren’t even capable of having an opinion on. Take for example when you see very young kids at a pro-Yemeni government rally and an anti-government rally. This also is implemented on pro-separation rallies and conferences – when we see young children attending, repeating chants against the northern people. This automatically fosters and influences hate at a young age, when they shouldn’t even be thinking like this in the first place. I believe that these factors are the most influential in Yemen at the moment.

Lastly, there’s a term called “Conflict Theory” in the sociological world. This just simply means a theory of social order (controlling) on groups of people or a society as a whole because of fear that the ‘superiority’ may lose its powers. If we implement it in a country, generally, the government is the superiority power. Yemen’s  government fears losing its powers if the people have it their way. For instance, the Yemeni government might believe that if the southern provinces are independent from the North, they will lose power in both the South and the North as well. It’s a fear of losing a sense of control over how their country runs. This type of perspective fits perfectly to the political, economical and social sectors of the country. Our government really has a tight grip on politics, whether you are in favor of the GPC or the JMP parties. Without a doubt, the government even has a tighter grip on economy just because there is a lot of corruption and they would rather have their own grip on corruption than a free, fair market. The clever part about how the politicians play the role of conflict theory socially is by letting each group fight each other off and then they try and make their image clean by supporting and finding solutions for the group, whether the Heraki movement or the revolutionary movement, without decreasing their own powers on both ends.

Solution to helping a society grow in a positive way is to help through educating people. As Yemenis, we should not let our emotions try to damage our mindset on our own people. First is to realize that all this dislike is considered baggage from years of a corrupted government and system. Such prejudice will eventually reach a tipping point one day that will hurt all of us. To help ourselves, we must learn to sit down with each other and accept to talk through communicative dialogue, understanding everyones point of view and going forth on accepting the issues that brought us together in the first place. It’s not too difficult to lessen and even eliminate discrimination within our borders. Let’s try to put aside our emotions when talking about politics and instead use logic. Remember that you can never find a solution to any of your problems when you are going through resentment. Even if you do, it will most likely be the wrong decision. As the saying goes, “Do not make decisions when you are angry.”

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Just my thoughts on this topic through a simple sociological breakdown that I feel is the reason why we are where we are today. All my writings and opinions are based on my observances and experiences in Yemen.

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Yemeni Minister of Immigrant Affairs Holds Event in NYC

Yemen Min 2

                               Yemeni Minister of Immigrant Affairs (second from left)

 

Majahed Al-Qahali, Yemeni Minister of Immigrant Affairs, held an event for the Yemeni community yesterday, October 5th of 2013. The main purpose for this event was to have a dialogue with the Minister and other panel guests in regards to concerns, questions and/or complaints that many Yemenis abroad want answered and discussed.

The event started with a speech from Al-Qahali, who touched upon the general events unfolding in Yemen, such as the National Dialogue and supposed elections. After his closing statement, the attendees were given a short break before questioning started. Not shockingly enough, there has been a trend at some protests and events where special guests and/or attendees randomly start dancing  a Yemeni dance. For this event, the Minister and other men danced a Adeni dance (from what they have claimed it was). A quick dance was over and the serious questioning had began.

As I expected, questions that were asked by the community were detailed and straightforward. Over 12 long questions were asked and discussed lightly by the attendees. Topics of questions included, but not limited to: the National Dialogue and its neglect to Yemenis abroad, voting eligibility for those abroad, Yemenis in Ethiopian jails without charge, Saudi Arabia and its treatment towards Yemenis, passport issues, Yemeni citizens and cases of US passport being taken by US Embassy and poor outreach to Yemeni community by higher officials, Yemeni consulates.

All questions were superb and deserve a long and loud applause because these issues are of concern. I noticed that the most repetitive questions asked were regarding Yemenis living in Saudi Arabia. Many have voiced serious concern and support to those who are struggling to live in decency and dignity in Saudi Arabia. I have concluded that many really worry about this situation and want answers by both the Yemeni and Saudi governments. We all want answers now. In regards to Saudi Arabia and Yemenis in that region, the Minister had explained that, “The problem is not Saudi Arabia. The problem is from us (Yemen). But it will take a lot of people for this case to be helped.” That direct answer can be debatable, depending on how each individual feels about this aching subject.

Going on, the Minister had answered my question in regards to why the Yemeni community abroad were not notified about National Dialogue participation. Since we do have a big share in economic development and investment in Yemen, why weren’t we as important – neglected? Also, I stated the issue of bad outreach and who the panel members and the minister himself outreached to for this important event? Unfortunately, the answer was plainly short and was not answered fully: “I had given names in folder(s) to the government, and other ND board members, but the rest was up to them [...] there are laws to abide by.” But I give him props for being speech-savvy.

Going on with answering  the rest of the questions, Al-Qahali touches upon Yemenis in Ethiopia who are in prisons without charge, stating,  “We need a large foundation. Big organizations, a lot of support and effort from those in the United States to help those there.”

Lastly, in regards to passport issues whether US passports being taken away or visa issues, Al-Qahali asked the crowd, “Have any of you wrote to me about this? Gave me names and basic information of those who are having any issues? (Pause) Now, let’s start by writing to me with names, problems and I will personally work on this issue, but you must give me some time to do so.”

Al-Qahali emphasized that the power we (Yemenis abroad) have, can shake Yemen instantly. He recommended that, “Dialogue should be started by us (in the US). We started in Sanaa, you can start in New York; goals, discussions.” Furthermore, he believes Yemenis abroad have the advantage of helping our people in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and even in Yemen. That being said, Al-Qahali asked we organize ourselves to help the problems all Yemenis are facing, whether inside Yemen’s borders or out.

Again, I give him props for being speech-savvy in the Arabic language. But I had hoped for some dual language talent! After a good three hours, we closed the event by standing for the Yemeni National Anthem.

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