Now Saleh is gone, will North and South Yemen separate?

Baraa Shiban

The risks that threaten the Yemeni Unity as it enters its twenty-three years seems to be huge, while some forces in the South are seeking to secede and the army is seeking to drive out Al-Qaeda militias from the areas they control in the South, Al-Houthi rebels have Sa’ada province under control and some other areas in the North.

The celebration of the Unity anniversary last Tuesday came after a violent attack that killed one hundred soldiers and wounded more than 220, who were participating in a military parade on the occasion of the Unity anniversary.

The exception in the celebrations of this year is that the two presidents who signed the Unity agreement are no longer in power. The ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to leave according to a political initiative sponsored by the Gulf Countries and the UN Security Council after the break out of a popular revolution, and his former deputy Ali Salem Al-Beedh who had to leave the country after the war of 1994.

Calls for Secession:

The most important challenge facing the Yemeni unity, is the high tone of secession raised by some Southern parts, especially that some of these forces are trending to violent methods instead of the peaceful methods.

In addition to that, some components of the Southern Movement, believe that they should take advantage of the success of the youth revolution in overthrowing Saleh’s regime, to push toward secession as the only alternative for solving the Southern issue.

Mr. Ahmed Abdul-Gani – the Head of Al-Jazeera Center for Strategic Studies – said that the negative role played by the former regime gave the opportunity for many projects to appear like Al-Qaeda, the Houthis, and the Southern Movement who are calling for separation.

He also said that there is a hope for the failure of such projects, if the Yemeni president Abdo Rabbo Mansoor Hadi and the reconciliation government speed up in facing the economical challenges, reduce the people’s suffering and provide the basic services such as electricity, and water.

Security Challenges:

Mr. Abdul-Gani also pointed out that “the security challenge of fighting Al-Qaeda militias and ending their control in some areas Southern the country is an important issue, as well as the start of restructuring the army under the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, and restructuring the security forces under the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, emphasizing that it will help to overcome the political challenges in the country.”

The success of the coming National Dialogue will be the main guarantee for maintaining the unity, because the most important outputs of the dialogue will be agreeing on the constitution and the shape of the regime.

The International and Regional Community seems to be supporting the unity and stability of Yemen, but the details of this unity will be a matter of huge argument during the National Dialogue.

Furthermore, the Minister of State – Ezzy Shaif – said that “what we see and hear of projects of secession is a political game that only serves the interests of some outside forces, and take advantage of some mistakes occurred by some policy makers.”

He added that “Al-Qaeda in Yemen, is an international issue not just a local issue, and perhaps they found in Yemen the atmosphere to spread because of the economic situation and the spread of poverty and unemployment.”

He also said that what Al-Houthi group and most of the Southern Movement are demanding for the National Dialogue is in total within the national unity of Yemen, and stressed that most of the Yemeni people are supportive to the Yemeni unity, even if they disagreed on the shape of the political system of the country.

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