By Asma Al-Mohattwari
Yemeni citizens were divided when it came to their responses to the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) recent visit to Sana’a. The meeting was intended as a show of support for the second phase of the Gulf Cooperative Council’s initiative; it was widely supported by the international community as a pathway towards security, stability and elections in Yemen. Some Yemenis cheered their efforts; others, who believed the GCC initiative had been illegitimately imposed on Yemen, criticized them.
The GCC initiative, which offered immunity to Yemen’s 33-year ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh in exchange for immunity, stirred controversy. Change Square activists rejected the provision which allowed Saleh to escape culpability for what they saw as his crimes, which included the killing of unarmed demonstrators during Yemen’s revolution.
Primary obstacles to a successful holding of the planned National Dialogue Conference are connected with the Houthis, the Southern Movement, and the matter of legitimacy when it comes to a meaningful inclusion of the youth revolutionaries who did most to provoke Yemen’s political transition.
Many youths rejected the GCC offer of immunity to Saleh, and believe that the Security Council seeks to pursue its own interests in Yemen, which include asserting control over Hadhramout, over which Gulf oil could be transported, leaving Iran’s Straits of Hormuz effectively bypassed.
Abduarab Saleh, Founder of the Youth Movement Organization, views the UNSC’s visit as confirmation of a violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and a way for the entrance of more western battleships and U.S. bases to Yemen to be facilitated.
“I want to remind the people of Yemen that the Security Council intervened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Burma, and Somalia, but produced neither homeland nor sovereignty in any of them,” he said.
Saleh said the holding of the National Dialogue will be useless, as it will be a dialogue between corrupt individuals.
“We don’t want old mentalities, leaders should have stepped aside and let youths participate and be their representatives in the dialogue.”
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said that America and Saudi Arabia had interests in a revival of the regime of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and added that revolutionary youths weren’t dependent on Security Council decisions.
Abdulsalam said the reason for the Security Council’s visit to Yemen, in the absence of a clear crisis or formal invitation from Yemen, was to impose politics and power on Yemeni decision-making.
“We will not withdraw from the National Dialogue, but the U.S. ambassador must withdraw from the dialogue. He should stop intervening in Yemen’s affairs; it is a National Dialogue for Yemen, not America,” he said.
On the other hand, the Islah and Liberal Parties largely welcomed the UNSC visit as a show of international concern over Yemen’s economic and social stability.
Representatives of both parties expressed views that the Security Council has helped to normalize the political situation in Yemen.
Mansour Al-Samadi, Chairman of the Liberal Party’s Preparatory Committee, said the visit bore a message to all political forces which seek to obstruct paths to security and stability: that the international community would not make allowances for chaos in Yemen, and that any party which tried to tamper with Yemen’s stability would be held accountable and punished.