National Dialogue stuck between challenges and barbs

National Yemen

By:  Asma Al-Mohattwari

The need to launch a comprehensive national dialogue resulted from the difficult and painful days which Yemen has lived through. It has been decided that a reality-based and civilized dialogue represents the best way to solve problems and bring different views together in one place and time.

With so many groups set to participate, a wide variety of views of what the National Dialogue could and should be naturally exist. What follows is a selection of comments on the National Dialogue by Yemeni citizens from different walks of life:

Hasan Sharafaddin, Minister of State, Member of the Council of Ministers 

The National Dialogue is the best way to solve all the crises in Yemen. I don’t agree with the pessimistic feelings of some people; I invite them to work on the dialogue’s success rather than work to make it fail.

Currently, there are many differences among parties and there’s no doubt that such differences will exist, but the mechanisms adopted by National Dialogue’s Technical Committee don’t allow any party to offer its opinions. Therefore, everyone, god willing, will agree in the end, and come to solutions to satisfy everyone.

Yet the prominent problem that the National Dialogue faces is the participation of Al-Herak from the south. Another problem is the non-implementation of the Technical Committee’s twenty points. These points will create a positive atmosphere for the dialogue.

Implementation of the twenty points and entering the dialogue in good faith – these will ensure the success of the national dialogue and rid Yemen of its current crisis.

Radhwan Al-Haimi, a young leader of the Yemeni Revolution

Their dialogue is ink on paper and it won’t be a success at all; it will be the spark that leads Yemen to fight for several reasons. The first reason is that it is not a national dialogue, but a Gulf initiative with supplemental items, which amounts to a foreign agenda which abuses Yemeni sovereignty.

The interest of this alleged dialogue is an abortion of the revolution and its objectives, as well as a way to distract the revolutionaries from their goals, which written with martyrs’ blood. That blood will triumph and retrieve land occupied by neighboring countries, which pretend they seek Yemen’s interests.

Now, reality shows us subtleties which weren’t understood by people. For example, participants in the National Dialogue have disagreed on the ratios of representation and have relied on UN Special Envoy Jamal Benomar when it comes to doing the math. So how can they agree for the sake of the country and its citizens?!

The Gulf Initiative did not arrive to serve Yemen and the Yemeni people, but rather arrived to serve the interests of those who agreed on it: the Gulf States and Western States. Those who signed the initiative didn’t sign for the benefit of Yemen. They put their personal interests before the interests of the country, forgetting all about the Yemeni people’s concern and forgetting that the homeland is for all, not for party or for a class!!

How do they want a dialogue while most of the revolutionary youth continue to be unjustly poisoned and the unlawful prisoners remain sitting in their cells?

To be a successful national dialogue, it should be rooted in the homeland and the revolutionary objectives should be the dialogue’s ceiling. The most important thing is to apologize to the people of the south and Sada’a and compensate them. Also, they must bring killers and criminals to the courts and recover all the stolen and usurped rights – and not what’s happening with their alleged dialogue.

Mohammed Al- Khamiri, Editor of Eylaf weekly newspaper

We are optimistic about the National Dialogue because the comprehensive dialogue, inclusive of all political components – tribal, social and military – is the only way to solve Yemen’s crises.

Intolerance and allowing for everyone to be entitled their own opinions are the biggest challenges which stand before the dialogue. Instead of coming to the dialogue, all carrying agendas which they want to impose on others; participants should waive some of their requirements and agendas in order to reach solutions.

Ebthal Al-Salhi

The national dialogue will succeed, but not all the participants will agree and some issues will remain – which will be the focus of new crises. Perhaps a stronger government will later be agreed upon.

The biggest challenge to the National Dialogue’s success is remnants of the former regime, from Ali Abdullah Saleh and his cohorts. Also, the southern case and the current government’s procrastination in addressing the twenty points which were raised by the JMP, the National Dialogue’s Technical Committee, Islah, Houthis, tribes, and finally the so-called scientists amount to challenges.

The National Dialogue will be successful if the army integration and restructuring takes place, with the exclusion of military leaders from the former regime, as well as affiliated leaders or loyalists such as Ali Mohsen and his followers.

Al-Mortadh Al-Mohattwari, law professor and founder of Bader Mosque

As long as the army is divided between domineering members, there will be no benefit from anything. The First Armored Division is there on the one hand – and the republican Guard on another – so what is the dialogue for?

Currently, the controlling parties are Islah and the GPC. Their mentality is too old. There is supposed to be a return to the south of what was looted from the people there. First, there should be an admission to mistakes; then we can talk as a united people. But what’s happened now is ‘Come and talk with us, but under our control’. Feelings of superiority account for some part of the problem.

Greedy people are the ones who destroyed Yemen; they come not for unity, but for looting. I’ve witnessed that the south is more unified than the north. So the south should have all its rights returned.

Each one clutches the trigger and wants to talk at the national dialogue, but like Arab elections, democracy and freedom and votes are for seen as ‘only for me’. Actually, it’s a farce – even the division of seats is disrespectful. People want everything for themselves and think that it will be handed over; but the ship would sink with everyone on board in this way.

Everyone wants things in his favor and no one thinks of the country’s interest. Lawlessness became scary when people are being killed in their bedrooms. Problems must be remedied, because patience has an end with Yemenis.

Hafez Al-Bukari, head of the Yemen Polling Center

I think there is a problem in defining the National Dialogue and its purpose. What happened is that the National Dialogue has been dealt with as one of the processes mentioned in the Gulf initiative, which was basically an initiative for transferring power. There’s an inability of the part of political forces, government elite, as well as those outside government, to deal responsibly with pressing national issues.

Let’s say that the national dialogue is where national issues will be discussed. They will say ‘Committees will study the issues’. How will committees study the issues when they are representing forces and currents which continue to differ when it comes to the dialogue’s standards?