It’s been eight years since Yemen’s ‘youth revolution’. So what are we celebrating?
It’s been eight years since the outbreak of the so-called “youth revolution” in Yemen, driven by the winds of the so-called “Arab spring” uprisings coming from Tunisia via Egypt. At the beginning and for most people, these uprisings seemed spontaneous and popular. But they turned out to be just an excuse for the execution of a malicious and carefully calculated plan to overthrow the Arab regimes, destroy their countries and displace their populations.
“The people want to overthrow the regime.” Brandishing this loathsome slogan, Yemeni youth launched their movement, thinking that it was only an expression of their desire to overthrow then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh and then solve Yemen’s social problems caused by the corruption of his regime. Little did they know that whoever developed that slogan had meant it literally and nothing less.
The only thing that Yemen has seen so far is the literal application of the slogan “overthrow the regime” without paving the way to any improvement. This meant the literal destruction of the institutions of the state, of the army and of the police plus the ensuing political, economic and social catastrophes. Today, the leaders of that movement are celebrating the anniversary of their movement despite all the destruction, devastation and corruption they had brought about. Had their original goals been patriotic and honourable, they wouldn’t have dared celebrate while their country was falling down the drain a bit further every hour of every day.
The leaders of that movement from the Islah Party, the political current that had led the opposition to Saleh’s regime and then led the uprising against it, claim their innocence from all the bad things that had happened and continue to happen in Yemen. They blame the former president, who handed them power under the terms of the Gulf Initiative, and they blame the coup d’état by the Houthis, who were just one player in their sinister uprising and who, as expected, share their celebrations every year because they know very well that if it weren’t for the calamitous uprising of February 11, there wouldn’t be a Houthi coup on December 21.
It was thanks to the perpetual sit-ins in Sana’a’s Change Square that the Houthi militias were able to move from Saada. It was also thanks to neutralising the first armoured brigade when its commander, Ali Mohsen, joined the “reformist revolution” that the Houthi militias finally crossed the distance to Sana’a, something that they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing for decades.
If the goals of those so-called leaders were patriotic, there wouldn’t be anything for them to celebrate. So, what are they celebrating then amid all the horrors and tragedies and calamities that surround our people today? Was overthrowing the Saleh regime worth the price and did it deserve to be celebrated?
The February calamity was a heaven-sent opportunity for those aspiring to turn back the wheels of history and bring back the authority of the Imamat priesthood after a decade of patiently waiting in the wings for the right time to pounce on power. Their vengeful spirit was clearly illustrated when the Houthis finally entered the Sana’a as partners of the Muslim Brothers on that disastrous February 11. They had been dreaming about doing just that since the beginning of the glorious revolution of September 1962, and they found in the disaster of February 11 the perfect gate for reintroducing the Imamat regime. It must be admitted that the constant bickering and divisiveness of the republican ranks helped them tremendously.
Eight meagre years have passed and the people of Yemen received nothing from the high priests of sedition except destruction and desolation. The common people have lost their country while those seditious vampires continue to sit in their ivory towers and continue to suck up the people’s wealth. They really have nothing to talk about on this February 11, no achievement to celebrate, except perhaps the selfies they took in the world’s cities either as tourists or as refugees. They can’t stop talking about the outcomes of the National Dialogue, which could have been easily achieved by constructive and responsible dialogue without resorting to all of this destruction.
The calamity of February 11 was a bitter harvest for every Yemeni, those who had supported that chaos and those who had opposed it. It was a chaotic drift that produced nothing but terrible loss of human lives, of infrastructure and of economic wealth. The Yemenis have indeed paid a heavy tribute of blood and livelihoods. Tens of thousands of people were killed and double of that number have been injured and ended up with permanent disabilities. Hundreds of thousands more have been displaced to the four corners of the world. So, what are they celebrating?
Reality and international reports have spoken more than once of the existence of more than 22 million Yemenis who need humanitarian assistance; that is more than 75% of the total population; 8.4 million people suffer from food insecurity and are facing the threat of famine. Four million people have been displaced forcibly. So, what are they celebrating in Yemen?
Eight years down the road from the big disaster of February 11, the republican camp in Yemen is still engaged in a futile internal struggle. The only beneficiaries of that struggle are the Houthi terrorist militias. The latter have exercised a systematic policy of retaliation against the Yemenis. They’ve strived to create a social rift by all means necessary and ended up cornering Yemenis in a tight spot, all in the service of the Houthis’ sectarian project as they make sure to deliver Yemen to their masters in Iran. This is the same Yemen that was proud of its democratic system, of its republic and of its Arab identity. So, what are they celebrating in Sana’a?
I can’t think of any convincing answer to that question.
Tariq Karman is a Yemeni writer.