Political Analysis

Politics Clouding Yemeni Society

National Yemen

Southern Protesters

By Esra’ AlNajjar

What the world has witnessed in the last couple of years has generated a new interest in the field of politics. It is nearly impossible to find someone who is not interested in politics or not indirectly involved. The entire genre of politics has become a dominant part of our lives, and not a very pleasant one. Questions include, what will happen in the coming years? What will become of the Arab countries? Which party is right and which is wrong? These questions are asked not only by adults but also by young people.

Long ago and before the Arab Spring took place, politics meant mom and dad watching the news at 9 pm. Disturbances and political chaos were only limited to occupied Palestine and some other involved areas. Today; however, political disorders seem to spread all over the world. Politics is invading houses, workplaces, jobs and even schools. At the time when children and teenagers were thought to be completely ignorant of politics and politicians, they started recalling political names and events with alarming ease. Yemenis started this sudden interest in politics in the current political situation that was recently imposed on Yemen and the world at large.

The situation in Yemen did not only affect our lives economically and politically but has also had an impact on our social lives. The increasing anxiety and stress induced by security issues reflected negatively on Yemeni society.

Schools and universities were highly affected by the current political situation. Parents are more comfortable with having their children at home during chaos than sending them to school and endangering their lives. Students living in targeted areas tend to miss many classes and sometimes tests because they simply cannot reach school due to street closures or disorders. Also, university students living in faraway areas are often forced to stay at home for fear of getting stuck in the middle of riots. This continuous absence has deteriorated the educational system since schools end up closing until further notice, causing a delay in the curriculum.

Huda Ahmad, a student in Sana’a University recalled what she experienced during one of the latest events. Living on Al-Hasba street, which was exceptionally quiet that day, Huda left her house completely ignorant of what was happening. As she reached the university she realized that something was wrong and all her classmates were in dismay. Amid all this, Huda was only concerned about one thing, she was desperate to take her exam. She knew that postponing the exam meant time and effort lost as well as an inevitable delay in her academic year. “My only fear was the exam being postponed. I wanted to finish as soon as possible and any delays weren’t in my or anyone else’s benefit,” said Huda.

On a domestic level, politics succeeded in getting into houses and causing trouble among its members. Those who support different parties or belong to various ethnic groups quarrel on a daily basis. The discussions they involve in aren’t always guided by the desire to know who is right; they are usually impotent ones aiming to win the argument. This insistence and extremism caused by these unproductive discussions have resulted in breaking relationships within single families. ” Yemeni society has undergone a radical split either in favor of or against what is happening. Members of a single family do not share a common issue anymore. That is because each member has their own affiliation and alliances,” says Sabri Al-Oqab.

The security issues resulting from the recent political development have locked Yemenis indoors. It is no longer easy to go out and roam around the city without being tense and anxious about what “might” happen. Being always exposed to explosions, shootings and kidnappings has made people more comfortable in their homes and left the streets empty.

Despite the catastrophic impact that the recent events have had on the Yemeni society, it’s still thought that it has had some positive effects as well. The continuous exposure to the political field has taught many people, especially youth, how to handle arguments and support their opinions. It has generally taught them to check their sources and rely on solid evidence before forming a concrete opinion about certain parties or actions.

Moreover, teenagers are becoming more involved and so their intellect in that particular field is increasing. For example, instead of talking about unimportant issues, teenagers are now more occupied with the political situation and are often involved in related activities. It is also noticeable that the current situation has helped in creating leaders. Youth are getting involved in revolutionary activities and are finally voicing their needs, objections, and are demanding their rights. Though those few effects are basically positive they are not always enough. Sara Al-Mahbashi a 21-year-old says, “The rise of political awareness, the involvement of youth in political participation and the realization of rights and duties is definitely a good thing but the rise of terrorism, the rise of nuclear power, which may eventually lead to an arms race that can destroy lives or destroy the globe.”

The political conflict that took place in 2011 has led to severe problems in the economic, social and educational levels of the country. With lives stopped and interests being at a halt, Yemenis no longer feel safe and are dreading what tomorrow might bring. The crisis that the country is undergoing doesn’t seem to have a happy ending. However, Yemenis are still clinging to whatever glimmer of hope they have in order to survive and make it safely to a better future.