Political Analysis

Will federalism by a real solution to the Southern issue?

National Yemen

Southern protesters demands separation

This is another matter. Federalism is a medication that relieves the symptoms of an unidentified disease.

Some major forces — such as the General People’s Congress and the Reform Party — have rejected federalism. But the international trend, which seems to be in support of federalism (at least as represented by UN envoy Jamal bin Omar), has turned the rejection into a disagreement over the new shape of the state. That shape may harm national unity and is a red line for the parties who consider federalism to be a threat to the country’s unity.

Practically, federalism may represent a solution to a problem that was mainly due to the weakness of the central state, corruption, and the lack of social justice. The state’s form was not the crux of the problem. At the same time, not even the number of regions in the new federal state was agreed upon. As to how to divide the country into regions and on what basis — economic or geographic, according to population or water availability (which is the most serious issue facing Yemen in the short and long terms), etc. — that issue may need experts and technicians more than dialogue between rivals.

The other problem is how to reconcile two opposite inventions and convert them into a reasonable medical prescription, although it may end up looking closer to chemotherapy. Transitional justice was established as one of the solutions to the national dilemma which then turned into a dilemma in and of itself. Over the past two years, the text for a transitional justice law was not agreed upon, especially with the presence of a law that represents one of the pillars of the Gulf initiative: the immunity law granted to the former president and his regime.

Annulling the immunity law will give Saleh’s General People’s Congress a golden chance to rid itself from the commitments imposed by the Gulf Initiative. If the party remains in power, it will be also a golden chance to obstruct the law on transitional justice.

Simultaneously, there was a new invention called the law on political isolation, which excludes prominent figures from participating in political life because of their involvement in the former regime. This expression, however, is vague; the majority of figures who are positively or negatively active were part of that regime. This law was used to escape the trouble of immunity. The law, however, was strongly opposed by the General People’s Congress and was transformed into a series of detailed conditions imposed on these figures, limiting their abilities to run for office or assume key positions. This also has yet to be settled.