Separation is Not a Problem

National Yemen

Aref Abdullah Al-Selmi

By Aref Abdullah Al-Selmi


Most politicians and religious scholars are trying to maintain Yemeni unification through declarations and fatwas calling on citizens to maintain unity, declaring it a religious obligation.

The problem is not separation, however, the problem is the continuous neglection of the issues and not seriously and deeply considering the desire for separation.  

I spoke to a southern activist about the reasons he has for wanting separation. He had several, including the marginalization of the south, the plundering of wealth by powerful tribal sheikhs and influential officials in the north, the second class treatment of southerners, and the repression of southern identity. 

These are real, concrete reasons that drive southern resentment of the north and lead to calls for succession. As a northern citizen, I suggest two solutions to the southern issue. First, to address all southern grievances – a full restoration of their rights and secondly, letting them decide whether or not to engage with the north.

As northerners we will not lose anything if our brothers in the south are given their rights, including their treasures and lands. If separation means we avoid conflicts and war, then this is also a solution.  

It’s better to give southerners their rights, including their right to succeed, and not to oppress them for the sake of unification. The government and the National Dialogue Conference should recognize this.