Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Dialogue Conference Begins in Yemen

           March 18 marked the start of the National Dialogue Conference in Sana'a, where hundreds of delegates from different regions and factions all across the country will deliberate Yemen's future for the next six months.  This process is a key part of the initiative backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the UN for the country's transition after long-time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down.  The dialogue is meant to accomplish a number of key goals, among which is writing a new constitution before new elections scheduled for 2014.
            Another key issue is investigating human rights violations committed by the regime against protestors in 2011 and accomplishing justice and reparations.  A Commission of Investigation was established in theory, but seven months later it is still not set up.  Progress on this front is slow, especially because of the immunity from prosecution Saleh received in return for stepping down.  There have been frequent protests demanding prosecution and justice.  
            There has been prevalent obstruction to the rule of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi by Saleh loyalists and family members appointed to key positions in the government and military.  The UN and US have threatened to seize assets and impose sanctions on those figures who continue to attempt to derail the transition process.  President Hadi made a key move recently to shuffle influential military commanders to diplomatic posts abroad, effectively sidelining them.  This is a very important action to mitigate the power of rival elite factions and unite the divided military.  It is especially crucial to build state capacity in the context of the continuing threat from the Houthi, Al-Qaeda, and southern secessionist militant movements.  This move will also help to curb accusations that President Hadi is a mere pawn of the former regime.
            Perhaps even more important to the success of Yemen's transition will be reconciling the South with the North.  The South has many long-standing grievances with the North.  After the civil war of the 1990s, North Yemenis seized a lot of property through privatizations and force, resulting in continuing and widespread land disputes.  In cases where the courts actually ruled that property must be returned in principle, the police are often bribed so that the ruling is not enforced or carried out.  Many southerners believe that the National Dialogue won't change anything, and major factions of the Southern Movement are boycotting the conference altogether and have organized mass demonstrations against it, demanding autonomy and independence.  There have been continuing acts of sabotage carried out against infrastructure and oil pipelines since the start of the conference.  

           The National Dialogue Conference will need to enact meaningful change in order to address the deep grievances that fuel violent resistance in the south. This will be absolutely crucial for a successful transition to a truly democratic, unified government.  If nonviolent negotiations fail, fractured Yemen could easily break apart into civil war.

Works Cited
"Ban Welcomes Launch on National Dialogue Conference in Yemen." N.p., 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
Murray, Rebecca. "Land Disputes Threaten South Yemen Stability." Al Jazeera. N.p., 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
Murray, Rebecca. "Yemen Struggles With Past Crimes." Inter Press Service. N.p., 1 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
"Strike Hits Yemen Ahead of National Dialogue." Al Jazeera. N.p., 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
"UN: Yemen Must Address Serious Challenges for Transition." N.p., 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
"Unemployment behind Increase in Al-Qaeda Presence in Yemen - President - RT News." RT. N.p., 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
"UNSC Hails Decrees Issued by Yemeni President." N.p., 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
"Yemen Ex-leaders Get UN Sanctions Warning." Al Jazeera, 16 Feb. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>.
"Yemen President Orders Military Shake-up." Al Jazeera. N.p., 11 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <>. 


  1. I couldn't agree more that the reconciliation between North and South Yemen is the key to the country's future success. Unfortunately however, like Sam expressed in the article, this reconciliation relies heavily upon nonviolent negotiations being upheld. Although I cannot be certain, I do not see the National Dialogue Conference as being strong enough or able to do enough to stave off violent political protest. I think of all the countries we have studied thus far, Yemen is one of the most puzzling situations with an unclear and unknown results that may be an on going issue until the region as a whole becomes more stable.

  2. You made a lot of very good points and like the article pointed out the grievances from the South against the North must be addressed if they are to be able to find common ground and the ability to have representative government in the future. although many in the south object to the meetings being held I feel like a structure such as this is sometimes the only way to effectively portray grievances and solutions to better outcomes in the future. But the reality of continued uncooperative behavior between the two, if not addressed , will most likely lead to another internal conflict within Yemen

  3. The success of the new government will be defined by the acceptance of the new constitution. Drafting a new constitution has always been the vice of a new government. The article doesn't elaborate on how this will be done but it could also be the case that the government doesn't know how to go about this either. The Dialogue will lend itself to making sure that grievances will be voiced and it will be up to the constitution drafters to address them.

  4. I think that the best possible thing to focus on going forward is not the old regime and Saleh's step down without prosecution but instead the upcoming election and the development of the new constitutions. Revenge for past abuse of powers in not where the people should focus their time; instead the people should be keeping a watchful eye on the interim government and make sure that these reforms do in fact occur in the near future. Something that I see as important in determining the success of this country going forward is how well they can fair without international support. Yemen has had a lot of backing from the US, UN, and other Gulf states throughout this process and it may be time for them to take a hold of the situation on their own to establish much needed legitimacy and stability. My country for the risk analysis is Mali and they are in a slightly similar position. Divisions between the north and south of Mali have created tensions that destabilized the state allowing a coup to step in and assume power. This is similar to Yemen where the north and south are clearly divided and need to find some way to unify to create a strong, democratic system.