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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About Summer Nasser
Blogger, with Yemeni roots based in New York City. Student of Sociology (B.A.) with a focus on the country of Yemen. I would consider myself a student of knowledge.

2 Responses to Yemen: Emotional Resentment (Sociological Perspective)

  1. Sam Arafat says:

    Well said Summer. I completely agree with what you said! Ir’s a sad state of affairs in our country and we need to act now before it’s too late as hatred digs down deep!

  2. Val says:

    Hello Summer. Great post. Makes me think of the northern Ireland peace process – eventually, people do want to be reconciled. On another note – your quote from Bob Marley above – did you realise he was quoting (more or less, maybe unconsciously) what Jesus said in the gospels – ‘What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? (Matt 16:26) and what Solomon said in Proverbs 16:16: ‘How much better to get wisdom than gold and good judgment than silver’. Of course, Solomon met up with the Queen of Sheba – from Yemen/Ethiopia so maybe she was the one to give such good advice!! Anyway, Mohammed (pbuh) advised everyone to read the Evangil – lots of profound wisdom there!

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