As Mubarak resigns, Yemenis call for a revolution of their own
Thousands of secessionists protested in Yemen today in an example of how disparate movements across the Middle East are tapping the anti-regime fervor for their own disparate aims.
(Page 2 of 2)
He also criticized the US for supporting its Arab allies, even when they resort to authoritarian measures in the name of stability.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“America is a democracy, but when to comes to the Arab world America supports oppressors," he says. "America protects these countries until they blow up."
Aden governor urges security, stability
In one Aden neighborhood, known for being a hotbed of secessionist sentiment, the old South Arabia flag is spray painted on building walls alongside posters of young man killed by security forces. Next to one Khaled Darwish poster was written a warning to the Yemeni government: "We are going to take revenge for you, Darwish."
“If there continues to be no recognition of political rights here, [separatist activity] won’t stop,” says Mr. Bashraheel.
The fractured yet popular southern separatists argue that since unification of north and south Yemen in 1990, and especially after a bloody civil war between the two sides of the country in 1994, there has been a systematic attempt to erase the identity of south Yemen.
They claim that southerners don’t have proper representation in the central government, and that the government takes resources found in southern governorates, namely oil, without investing back in the south’s infrastructure.
Yemen's government accuses separatists of harming national unity and stirring up trouble. On Thursday, Gov. Adnan Al Jafari of Aden told local press “security and stability are the responsibility of everyone.” He added, “We must learn from other countries that have lost their security and stability and use that in positive ways for our country.”
The government has also tried to link secessionists to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the regional terrorist franchise based in Yemen. AQAP, for its part, has sought to play on southerners’ grievances in order to unite the two groups against their common enemy, the Yemeni state. Separatists deny that they have any ties with AQAP, and instead blame the existence of Al Qaeda in Yemen on the Saleh regime.
A fast-closing window
Because clashes happen far from the eyes of international observers, it difficult to assess whether the perpetual violence in Yemen’s south between security forces and armed factions comes from Al Qaeda or harak, the Arabic name for southern separatists. However, what is certain is that this violence what has worried Western governments that destabilization in this area allows AQAP to move freely.
“The deterioration of the south would lead to instability of the entire countries and will definitely provide space for Al Qaeda to function. The southern separatist movement is not allied to Al Qaeda but the absence of state control gives Al Qaeda space to exist in areas that are controlled by harak,” said independent Yemeni political analyst Abdul-Ghani Al Iryani.
“The lack of unified leadership [in the separatist movement] makes it difficult for the government to reach a deal and therefore Harak will continue until the legitimate aspiration of the people of the south are achieved and that is still within the ability of the central government to provide in the context of unity, but I see that this window is fast closing,” he said.