By Dr. Nahla al-Huraibi
In response to the Yemeni people’s wide and determined uprising to overthrow the current corrupt regime, the American Ambassador in Yemen has advised Yemenis to stop and pursue dialogue with Saleh.
Yemen has been living under the miserable conditions resulting from the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh and his family for 32 years. In the last 10 years, the unbearable political, economic and security crises of Saleh’s regime have been escalating and intensifying.
The falsification of the elections results in Yemen’s presidential elections has intensified the vast majority of the population’s seething feelings of anger, deprivation and oppression.
Ever since that election in 2006, protests have started—with a light and intermittent pattern that culminated in the immense wave of protests that has been taking place in Yemen lately.
The symptoms of corruption in Saleh’s regime have extended to all aspects of Yemeni society. From acquiring and monopolizing the wealth of the country to the benefit of his family, tribe and allies, and on to creating wars with the Houthis in the north as a tactic of his policy of “dancing on the head of snakes” (The president’s own description of the way in which he rules Yemen), Saleh has been cunningly using the “al-Qaida” Scarecrow to convince the West of supporting him—financially with millions of dollars and politically by turning a blind eye on his regime’s violations of human rights.
Ironically, the more the West becomes enthusiastic and generous in backing that cursed regime, the stronger and more wide-spread al-Qaida’s followers become.
This is simply because our “dancing” president is playing on all parties: he is exploiting the West’s worries, obtaining more funds and support, and weakening Yemeni people by engaging them in artificial wars.
Yemeni youth and university students started the peaceful uprising which Saleh’s forces have attempted to end with violence and live bullets.
The aspirations of Yemeni people are no less legitimate than those of the Egyptian and the Tunisian people. In response to Yemeni people’s legitimate demands, Saleh’s regime has been using all of the government’s powers of suppression.
However, the more violent Saleh’s forces become, the larger, stronger and more persistent the opposition grows. Yemeni people are sure that there is no way back after so many peaceful and unarmed innocents have lost their lives to Saleh’s bullets.
In the middle of all of this tumult, the American Ambassador speaks up. But he does so with a painfully disappointing statement, one that would have better been left unsaid: he asks millions of protestors to give up their dream for the sake of one tyrant and his family; he asks these millions to give the dictator another chance after 32 years of evasiveness and oppression.
Mr. Ambassador, it is far too late for negotiations. Saleh has had decades to show us these “negotiations” of his, as well as the sickeningly sweet goodwill he has been so effusive with in the past days; yet he has never taken the trouble to do so.
That is because he thought he would never need to. He thought his rule would never end, and when he was unafraid he did not hesitate to treat us—the Yemeni people—with contempt and indifference.
Now, when he sees his end is nigh, when he is scared and terrified, he wants to “negotiate”. Why should we give him a chance he never gave us? He has run our country to the ground, into lowly poverty, sickness and corruption; its time he gave someone else a chance to rule.
Mr. Ambassador, as an American who is affiliated to the United States which claims to be based on principles of freedom, democracy and human rights, according to which of these principles are you demanding the Yemeni people to negotiate with a tyrant who ruled for 32 years and now is preparing his son to take over?
Wouldn’t it be rather more logical, based on your background, to advise Saleh to listen to his people and step down from his “Republican” throne?
Mr. Ambassador, allow me to give you some advice from the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him: “Say what is good, or be silent.”