x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Yemen secessionists are simplistic

Secessionist movements in Yemen draw on many arguments to justify their position, but one point unites them all: the failure of the central government to achieve unity, wrote Waeed Nouayhed in the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat.

Secessionist movements in Yemen draw on many arguments to justify their position, but one point unites them all: the failure of the central government to achieve unity, wrote Waeed Nouayhed in the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. There are two main aspects to such a failure. First, the government has not succeeded in implementing the economic development programme it pledged. In particular, it proved deficient in distributing wealth in a fair manner across the country.

Second, "the government performance has been utterly disappointing when it comes to politics. It failed in integrating various political powers and encouraging their participation in decision making." Likewise, it was unsuccessful in promoting civic values, so that it could build a strong sense of unity among different political and social actors. In short, the government fell short in governing all aspects of life harmoniously, while maintaining peace and stability.

Secessionist discourse thus is a reaction to the internal situation, but has no political programme or clear ideology. Separatists vaguely refer to their sentiments as a "historic response" to the political and economic crisis. "This view is simplistic. Secessionists seem to be less able to dicsern the nature of problems facing the country, and if they proceed with their enterprise they will cause Yemen to dismember further and further."

In an opinion piece for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas, Dr Hamed al Hamoud wrote that the Kuwaiti-Iraqi differences over war compensation have stirred up heated debate . "The issue has divided Kuwaitis into two sections. On the one hand, we find many parliamentarians, politicians and columnists who insist that Iraq must pay off it debts to Kuwait as well as compensate the latter for the damages caused by the war. On the other hand,we find some parliamentarians, opinion writers and economists who argued for granting amnesty to Iraq. They especially called on the Kuwaiti government to be more flexible."

The issue has taken a broader scope when the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, urged Kuwait to adopt a more resilient approach. Many economists and journalists associated the Iraqi case with Germany's situation after of the Second World War. They argued that exonerating Germany from paying war compensations had widely contributed to its recovery and led to maintaining peace and stability in whole Europe. To find a compromise over the issue, Kuwaitis need to look at present Iraq as a new one no longer associated with Saddam Hussein. They should be aware that considering compensation as a red line question is against the interests of the two neighbouring countries and may only lead to more rancour.

"The election of Fatah's ruling committee threw up some surprises and many symbolic leaders lost their seats to younger faces. Yet what is the future implication of this overhaul?" asked the lead article of the London-based daily Al Quds.

"It came as a surprise because among the 14 new members some were known by their independent attitudes and aspired to a revival of Fatah as a liberation movement." Mahmoud Abbas has emerged victorious after running the risk of holding his movement's convention in Bethlehem, in a clear defiance of the Fatha's "old guard". He further succeeded in rejuvenating the structure of the movement and consolidated its structure. There is no doubt that this success, despite some reservations, will put Fatah in a strong position for presidential or legislative elections in the near future. After this overhaul, it is time for Mr Abbas to make use of these changes to introduce a radical reform in his own political approach. He needs also to go further and address such pressing issues as establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital, fighting for removing settlements, and guaranteeing the return of Palestinian refugees. Moreover, as Fatah has reconstructed itself, it is now in a better position to work actively on achieving national reconciliation and putting an end to the current state of division.

The post election protests in Iran triggered other conflicts in the Arab world, where heated debates among Arab elites took place over what was going on in Iran's streets. Some were worried and others were optimistic. Many stood in awe, hardly able to grasp the whole situation. As usual, there were those who supported the Iranian experience and those who objected to it. Arab elites have expressed similar mixed attitudes before over Hizbollah and Saddam Hussein, wrote Abdul Arrahman in the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.

"Iran failed in its democratic experience because we have never believed that it had a democratic system in the first place... Yet, we believe Iranian election results should remain an internal affair. Nonetheless, we are interested in understanding the nature of the conflict as depicted by Iranians themselves." Those worried about the Iranian model in fact are worried about themselves. "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad represents the lifeboat they were attached to for four years. They saw in Tehran's leaders their hope and the sword with which to fight their enemies, be they Arabs or Westerners." But as events unfolded, they realised that the Iranian system is nothing but fraudulent."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi MElmouloudi@thenational.ae