OP-ED

Yemen’s Youth: Lost in Revolution

The youth can be seen as candles that burn their white bodies to make brighter the dark lives of others – as in revolutions of the Arab spring, and particularly in the Yemeni revolution. The Yemeni youth achieved what other politicians and opposition parties couldn’t accomplish in relation to the now-former 33-year-ruler of Yemen.

The word ‘shabab’ (youth) continues to have a powerful effect on – and potent meaning for – those youngsters who have been to Change Squares over the past year and a half: chants for freedom, opportunity and access to social and political life are what this word youth can now bring to mind.

The youth traveled a long distance; they have also been left alone to fight for their fate against well-established military forces that have consumed both the past and the future of many decent citizens.

Before the youth revolutions which came with the Arab Spring, youths were just like any creatures – like plants that neither affect or are much affected by those humans that skirt past them.

Today’s strong political movements seem to share something of the former regime’s marginalizing qualities, and something too with those political parties that always made decisions with their own group in mind. The removal of a few tents from Change Square presents a negative and emotionally impactful image to those youths who left their homes to find freedom and fight for their rights.

Their friends and brothers scarified their lives and their bodies. Many will remain injured for the rest of their lives. Life isn’t fair. But so too is it unfair that these youths today see that they have no part of what they sought. Of jobs, there are few; those that come arrive often via recommendations, old-regime-style. Still the same old decision-makers and same old party leaders…the mark of yesterday’s elites can be traced through all today’s political agreements.

As tensions grow between Houthis and Islahis, the youth, the by-now-impossible-to-be-utterly-independent-youth, find themselves bouncing somewhere between parties’ and sects’ goals and enthusiasms. Such enthusiasms use, feed on, boil to a pitch and eventually stamp out the youthful revolutionaries’ hopes and aims.

The scene is gloomy. Yet the possibility of a new revolution – a re-revolution – looms. The youth? They’re not idle plants watching life pass them by. No. They’re simply lost somewhere in between.