OP-ED

South = North?

By Fakhri al-Arashi

The southern issue has been made the core point of the National Dialogue, which is planned to kick off on March 18, 2013. The dialogue has not yet arrived; but as it approaches, we can almost certainly expect to see and hear expressions of rejection and disdain emanate from the south.

In truth, it’s not the whole south which rejects the idea of the National Dialogue; it’s really a lower percentage of people than one would suspect; those who stand firm on the point will tend to be those who haven’t witnessed real reforms since 1994.

The south is like the north; citizens from both places have been victims of injustice – in some sense at least, both the north and south have had equal opportunities. Neither the youth of Aden nor the youth of Sana’a, Taiz and elsewhere received opportunities to build their country’s future, and this was largely because our country’s past was so thoroughly mismanaged.

I was just in Aden for the last ten days; while there, I saw how divided people were when it came to looking towards the future of the south. I could see to what great extent flawed politics and a compromised past had affected present hopes for the future. As if to make a bad situation even worse, Aden’s entertainment infrastructure – cinemas, theaters, and clubs – had been decimated, in some ways mirroring the same in the north.

After 23 years of unity, the aging leaders of both the south and the north realize that they may as well finish off what is left for the poor Yemenis. It’s become a fairly popular trend, with yesterday’s leaders finding great success in today’s Yemen by paying off our most poverty-stricken citizens to take to the streets and holler.

Both the people of the south and the north in Yemen would do well to give positive possibilities for the future a chance. If we could manage to give Hadi himself more of a chance, then perhaps Hadi could do his utmost to find quick solutions for those southern and northern youths in need of employment – whether it be vocational, government, or private in nature.

What about those who protest in the south and call for unity to be broken? Simply put, they’re not serious; in reality, they don’t care whether Yemen remains unified or not. They have found sponsors who will pay them to move into the streets and to call for divisions, for fragmentation, yes, for disunity.

Solutions must come now, and they must be better than they were before – more investment, more business and more jobs for both the north and the south.

When we find ourselves talking about such things, we’ll at least know that we have both northern and southern interests on our minds.

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