Preserving Yemeni Unity

  • 5 May 2009

Yemen faces a difficult challenge from recent calls for secession that began to threaten its unity and endanger its future. The Yemeni people have made great sacrifices to achieve unity in 1990 or to protect and maintain it in 1994 because it is the natural path for strength and progress and for facing common challenges. Undoubtedly, threatening this unity is a betrayal to the sacrifices made for it, a gamble with the presence and future of the Yemeni people, and a crossing of a red line that should not be violated or approached no matter the extent of disagreements between powers and factions inside the united country.

Disagreements and different interpretations are natural and positive inside countries and communities. But these must not lead to a weakening of the country’s unity, the pitting of its citizens against each other, or sliding into violence and confrontation.

Recently, the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, called upon the government, parties, and popular forces to a serious dialogue for strengthening national unity and dealing with all national problems. It is hoped that this important call be considered by the forces calling for secession because dialogue is the only way to treat problems or differences of opinion between citizens. Additionally, there are solutions to all disagreements so long as there is a will to solve them within a national framework.

Yemen faces great challenges on different levels and needs a solid national front to confront them away from the destructive separatist tendencies that could divide the country, dissipate its efforts, and divert it from its important goals. Maintaining Yemeni unity is the responsibility of national forces and movements in the country such as intellectuals, parties, the clergy, media, and others. One of the positive recent steps in this regard is the formation of public committees in different provinces that aim to defend unity. A number of Yemeni religious leaders also issued a statement extolling the defense of unity as a “religious obligation.”

Yemen is an important Arab country and a basic pillar in the matrix of Arab national security and the regional security equation in general. It plays an important role in confronting regional threats, especially terrorism. Thus, endangering its territorial unity is a threat to overall regional security and stability and a disservice to an important Arab experiment in unity that has since its birth represented a major Arabic event that was welcomed, supported, and aided.

Internal conflicts in the Arab region and their widespread and deep disastrous consequences have taught lessons that should be vivid to those calling for and seeking secession in Yemen. The first such lesson is that no one wins in these conflicts. Instead, they lead to national destruction and sow the seeds of enmity and hatred between fellow citizens that last for many years to come.