43 years and many more to come [Archives:2005/880/Viewpoint]

September 26 2005

Whilst celebrating the 43rd anniversary of the Yemeni revolution today, many activists are becoming more critical of the achievements that Yemen has won throughout the years since the revolution. This in itself is a sign of increasing awareness that the Yemeni people have started to witness, which is defiantly a good sign. Yemenis are becoming more analytical of what is being fed into their minds through various media tools, especially government controlled media. This is not exclusive to Yemen; in fact one could say that Yemen has been lagging behind in the wake-up movements going in the Middle East off late. Syrians' open participation in UN sponsored workshops in Syria, elections in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as various street protests in Cairo, are all signs of the demand for and even action towards change in the region. Yet the problem in the Middle East has not been a lack of demand for change, but rather the ability to exercise it under never ending regimes.

The idea behind peaceful passing of power has not been understood at all among the Arab leaders, for they are either kings, or presidents thinking of themselves as kings. What is more saddening is that in the whirlwind of self centered egoistic achievements caused by time such as discovering oil or feeble improvement in infrastructure, these achievements have been miraculously credited to Arab governments. For that matter when numerating the various facets of development in Yemen, the president should be ashamed to say that education, infrastructure, health or any of the basic services have improved. Because even though they really have improved compared to what they were like half a century ago yet that is really not credited to the “enthusiastic” leaders whose first priority is definately not their nations.

Moreover, the limited institutional change that has occurred in the Arab systems seems to be more or less externally driven. The elections in Egypt for example have been one way or the other supported by the US policy. It seems that there has been a change in the Bush administration policies indicating “the United States now shares a number of important goals with reformers and democracy activists rather than the increasingly illegitimate authoritarian kings, presidents and revolutionary holdovers of the region”. This indirectly has lead to forcing a larger democratic space in Egypt a fact that was visible during the recent elections. Another example was the municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, which is a step forward towards political change in spite of the official statement indicating that this change is not a result of the pressure from USA, but is internally induced. Although the Bush administration's drive towards a more democratic space in the Middle East is very much interest-driven, it remains that such pressures do assist in creating change in the region.

Whatever the case may be, 43 years have passed in Yemen since the revolution and it is now time to plan the next steps with vision. Planning a future for Yemen rather than fooling around abusing the country's resources. Every post comes with obligations and responsibilities, but unless there is a monitoring power that ensures fulfillment of these duties, there will be no control over corruption, just like it is the case now in Yemen. The people and their representing, national organizations should internally drive this monitoring power, even if this means sacrificing so much for the sake of our country.