Can Yemen do it too? [Archives:2003/05/Focus]

February 4 2003

In response to ‘Lessons from World War II’ editorial (Jan. 27) first of all, let me say that I was moved by its picture of the war’s devastation on those two countries but I also became deeply sympathetic to the hopes and dreams expressed in it for the Yemeni people. Let me also say that I agree with the author and that there are many similarities between modern Yemen and postwar Germany and Japan.
And, just like Germany and Japan the obstacles to your vision of Yemen are surmountable with public consensus on your side and international help.
Nothing on the magnitude of nation building can be done, however, without the true support of Yemen’s people. The great majority, through the equal dissemination of information and the exercise of democracy, must be unified in its vision of the future Yemen and of the path to that future. In short, my answer to the article1s question is, ‘Yes Yemen, you can do it… if you want to.’
With the new ‘war on terror’ focusing the world1s attention on the Persian Gulf region, Yemen has a perfect opportunity to emulate Cold War era West Germany and to benefit from international aid and investment.
The risk of openly accepting such aid is, of course, an anti-western backlash which could destabilize the government, sever ties with the west, and retard economic growth. The tightrope is narrow but the potential rewards of billions of dollars in aid and the political consolidation of Yemen’s government may be worth the risk.
Your editorial finished with the question ‘why not us?’ which prompted me to leave with some questions of my own.
1. Can Yemen, including the tribal areas, be effectively unified as one highly organized and highly centralized political body in order to move the country, as a whole, in a single direction?
2. Is the vision of an industrialized and globally integrated Yemen which has a free market system and all the secular and western trappings such developments invariably entails, a vision of Yemen that the people of your country will lend their support to?
3. Will the Yemeni people be willing to accept the personal and cultural sacrifices that unity calls for in order to enjoy the benefits it will surly bring?