In two years since the Yemeni Youth Revolution kicked off, I’ve often thought of February 3rd, 2011 as being the first day of the revolution, when Yemeni students at Sana’a University and elsewhere throughout the nation found themselves inspired by Egypt’s own dramatic part in the Arab Spring.
In spite of their small numbers, the protestors pushed forward without looking back. Their passion and sense of resolve when it came to demanding the fall of the regime only grew.
When it came to demands for change in other Yemeni governorates, results were strong. Saleh felt compelled to make multiple promises to abet the change-seekers, announcing plans for a unity government, early parliamentary elections, 200,000 new jobs for the country’s youth, and more. Yet none of his maneuvers met with popular success, leaving him appearing like a poker player ever more afraid of losing his next hand.
In the end, the long-time president lost the battle. The revolutionaries and the opposition parties achieved a victory, that of changing the regime and moving closer, they hoped, to a more promising future for Yemen.
Since then, there have been a number of positive political shifts. When it comes to the matter of political philosophies, however, there is little that distinguishes the new government from the old one.
Much is the same, and much is worse – when it comes to the nation’s security and economic and social well-being. People took to the streets for more than what we presently have. And while patience is a virtue, patience can do little to speed up progress when your nation’s government is fragile and divided.
Even the Prime Minister has come up with a decree to suspend the hiring of new government employees over the next four years. This is just the type of issue which pushed the youth into the streets: a lack of opportunities and an unavailability of government jobs. With all regards to the Prime Minister, in doing such a thing he is making an unforgivable mistake – and one which all too easily brings Saleh to mind.
The new government was brought to power to open doors, not close them. If the government thinks this way, where will the new cycles of graduating students go? The private sector is hardly robust enough to hire them all.
The change which erupted over the past couple years was very much healthy. But if we allow ourselves to bear witness to the past all over again, we should keep the following in mind: the Change Squares, while dormant, could easily be reawaken. That is, if Yemen’s youth see that their revolution has been stolen, with only the most meager compensation for their honest efforts.