Dr. Masdos to the Yemen Times”I was against the war because I realized it would be a catastrophe on the unity” [Archives:2005/848/Reportage]

June 6 2005

Dr.Mohammad Haidrah Ali Masdos was born in 1944 and is a father of eight children. He is a member at the political office as well as a member at the General Secretariat of the Yemeni Socialist Party.

Meeting with Mohammad, the Yemen Times forwarded to him the following questions about the situation of Yemeni southerners after complaints have been persistent and being denied political representations and rights of citizenship and ownership:

Q. How do you assess the past 15 years following Yemen's Re-unification?

A. The unity of the country was announced more than 15 years ago and at that time the unity was inaugurated and this does not necessarily mean it was established. A transitional period was specified for establishing the unity from the practical viewpoint and by virtue of which the two parts of Yemen mingled into one.

The transitional period has its seven distinctive objectives at which the establishment of the unity poses in reality and in spirits.

The seven objectives are as folows:

Objective one: canceling all the nationalization laws in the south and compensating beneficiaries since such laws were not existing in North Yemen. It's illogic for part of a country to be nationalized while the other part remains free from nationalization when both belong to a single country.

Objective two: restoring the form of the national economy in South Yemen, that is from the public sector to the private one to be in favor of citizens since their wealth was converted by the former regime to the possession of the state. It sounds odd that citizens in one part of the county enjoy the rights of ownership whereas citizens in the other parts cannot possess anything.

Objective three: putting an end to disputes in the social structure between people of the two parts by giving permission to a private sector and proprietors in South Yemen to be socially in harmony with the north. It is unreasonable for the social structure to include rich and poor people in the north while the society in the south is prevailed by the poor only.

Objective four: converting the two forms of currency, riyal in the north and dinar in the south, into a unified currency “dirham” under the unity agreement since it is impossible for two currencies to be available in one country, and maintaining one currency but canceling the other will embody one part of the country at the expense of the other and frustrate the achievement of the national unity.

Objective five: mingling the governmental institutions and apparatuses in the two parts since it's illogical for them to operate according to totally two different systems.

Objective six: exterminating the difference between the civil culture in South Yemen and the tribal culture in North Yemen to be in favor of the culture followed up in the south but not the reverse.

Objective seven: canceling the mechanisms of power in the two parts of the country and making available a new unified mechanism, as it is unreasonable for two mechanisms to operate one country or for one mechanism to be followed at the expense of the other.

The seven objectives were set in the transitional period since it is impossible for a unity to be achieved without implementing them.

Since no tasks were achieved during the transitional period, the country experienced two powers, two cabinets, two armies, two securities and two judiciaries as well as two currencies and two cultures. There were two different school syllabuses in the two parts of Yemen.

A political crisis emerged and officials in the two parts acknowledged there was a crisis and there were methods for solving it on documents of the agreement.

The other party of the agreement chose the army as a solution for the crisis and terminated legitimacy of the unity agreements, replacing the constitution, previously agreed upon, by another one and maintaining what is related to North Yemen at the expense of South Yemen. If the transitional period achieved all its tasks, there would not be any crisis.

Consequently, failure of the transitional period to achieve the assigned tasks, in addition to the war and its consequences, equals failure of the unity itself. This information were included in the President's talk with the military units in Abyan after the war when he said:

“We were two states until the seventh of July 1994, and my assessment of the postwar period can be embraced under four themes:

The first theme: there was an unjust policy that oppressed all civilians in the south of Yemen including those who opposed the Yemeni Socialist party and others who remained in the State's civic and military apparatuses, owning to the war and its tragic consequences that negatively affected the national unity and resulted in an inequality between people. For instance, sheikhs in South Yemen were treated like their counterparts in the north and the same was in case of revolutionaries, employees, investors and even patients.

Besides, thousands of innocent civilians and military personnel were fired from their work even though they were still young, possessing enough experience and competence in their careers, and those people were given jobs by the government of South Yemen and not by the government of Re-unification.

This means the State's apparatuses and institutions will be exclusively controlled by people from North Yemen. All the southern military and security institutions were eliminated and replaced by private sectors to the advantage of influential persons from North Yemen.

All the Yemeni people know well that the private sector in South Yemen was previously converted into a public sector owned by the state in return for being the responsible side for all the life affairs of citizens according to the norms and regulations of socialism, which was controlling the south parts of Yemen.

As there was no private sector in South Yemen before declaring the national unity, all civilians in the south had government jobs. But after being eliminated following the 1994's war, they became jobless and were named the party of “Stay at home”, in addition to a terrible increase in the rate of unemployment among youths.

Jobs in the southern parts of Yemen were given to people from North Yemen even at oil companies operating in the south because officials were all from the north parts of Yemen and the southerners were deprived of everything.

Even in the popular and civil community organizations that emerged in the south parts of Yemen, no southerners work for such organizations including women unions and journalist syndicates despite being well qualified and experienced.

Media means and political parties as well as military and police colleges and scholarships are all dominated by the northerners.

Despite that political leaderships of religious extremism came from the north, hunting activities and arbitrary procedures are practiced against people who are originally from the south parts of Yemen, and a clear-cut example is what happened to Abu Hassan al-Mihdar, al-Harithi and Hattat Group in Abyan and the Group of the US Destroyer Cole and others.

Poverty, fear and humiliation have been imposed upon locals in South Yemen since the end of 1994 war, and most of those employed at the government institutions tend to hide their southerner identity and their wealth sine they feel themselves outside the political decision of the State. As the authority rejects them being representatives for the south part of Yemen, how will the situation of those in the opposition be.

The authority tends to practice terrorism upon them, and an intellectual terrorism is practiced against them by the opposition.

There are some southerners who pursue their personal interests away from politics, and for its part, the authority bets for the existence of such opportunist interested in serving their personal interests. This betting is out of place since it is not an issue of individuals that can be surpassed with the passage of time, and it is not the case of a particular party that can be solved by integrating the party in governance as viewed by the government and the opposition, rather it is an issue of a nation who has its own statehood and autonomy.

The issues of nations as known to everyone cannot end despite the passage of time but they go on renewing till an ultimate solution is reached. Dealing with southerners interested in serving their personal interests and betting against them is a loss and a waste of time since they themselves will covert into being supporters of rebellion since consequences of the war are still experienced.

The second theme concentrates on eliminating history and identity of South Yemen, and since the end of war, there is an elimination of the identity and the glorious history of South Yemen including the October 14th Revolution that freed the country from the British occupation. This revolution is the culmination of national resistance that continued until the occupants were driven away and non extension of efforts behind September 26 Revolution as claimed by the State. Considering October 14 Revolution as an extension of September 26 Revolution is not only an elimination of the identity and history of South Yemen but also a denial of the struggle of southerners.

Preventing talk about the Re-unification and denying anything related to South Yemen is a clear-cut evidence of eliminating identity and history of Southerners. The day of declaring the unity was given the name of “The Day of the Republic of Yemen” to rather escape mentioning the Re-unification.

The government cancelled dinar (currency of South Yemen) and retained the riyal and this had gone against agreement of the unity. What belongs to the south is eliminated and what belongs to the north is retained, even the Aden Radio and Television Corporation was given a different name instead of taking pride on it for being the oldest in the region.

School syllabuses focus on the identity and history of North Yemen without containing anything related to the south, however after declaring the national unity two identities should be mingled into one and so is the case of the two histories.

When talking, for instance, about the rule of Imamate in the north we should at least have a glimpse of the dominance of sultans and invaders in the south. When talking about September 26 Revolution and its six achievements, we should not forget the October14 Revolution and its five achievements embraced in the national pact, otherwise relation between North and South will be a kind of integration and not unity.

The third theme focuses on the monopoly of power. Since 1994's war, the political decision is taken from the north, rejecting any political representation for the southerners. This means the authority lost its unified impression making up a clear-cut evidence of two parts and breaking procession of the unity.

As the authority denies rights of southerners to be representatives of the south parts in the political arena, this compels them to be employees and partners in the national unity.

At the local level, there are the security committees in the governorates running the daily affairs of the most important issues. This includes the governor, his deputy, the security commander and general directors of the political security and investigation bureau tc., all of them are from the north.

The fourth theme discusses monopoly of wealth. As power is monopolized by northerners, this helped them to practice monopoly of wealth and show dominance over agricultural lands in the south parts of Yemen as well as public institutions and facilities. Procedures associated with taking loans from housing and agricultural credit banks are facilitated for northerners but tend to be complicated on the part of southerners.

Aden, being a free zone and an economic capital under the unity agreements never happened after 15 years following the declaration of the National Unity in 1990.

What is of great concern is the system of ownership of lands in Aden and Hadramout that serves interests of Yemeni northerners, an advantage that is denied to be given to southerners in spite of being the original owners of such lands. Offices were opened in Sana'a and other governorates for selling lands in the south to people from the north, however these lands are possessed by the State according the nationalization laws that operated previously in the southern parts of Yemen.

Q. How do you interpret your rotting to the national unity on May 22, 1990, and then your desire for cessation three years after?

A. Declaring the national unity on May 22 1990 is not rotting, rather it is a crowning of the works and tasks of the unity committees for over 20 years. We don't retreat from the unity after three years. It is the other party of the unity who retreated by rejecting to implement agreements of the unity during the transitional period, as well as not achieving the seven objectives of the period.

All the unity agreements were cancelled, its constitution was replaced by another one and any political representation of southerners were rejected. By this it has became clear who retreated from the unity, either us or the other party.

Q. What, in your opinion, are the possible means for reforming the national unity?

A. We said more than once that overcoming the bad consequences of war and reforming the national unity consist of five points, which we have been claiming for ten years without any response from the parties concerned.

These five points are:

1- Canceling the religious fatwa that justified the war and made the south parts an easy prey for plunderers, although this is not acceptable in the point of view of Islam and the constitution as well.

2- Restoring all the lands and the public and private properties that were plundered by force since they are the nation's wealth that had been transferred by the former regime to a possession of the state.

3- Refugees inside and outside the country should come back to their posts in the government and their properties should be restored since these are classified within rights of citizenship and ownership that are ensured by Islam and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. In addition the war wounded should be treated like martyrs.

4- Canceling the verdicts and not the amnesty for the list of the 16 people as the amnesty confirmed the wrong charge but cancelled the penalties. Since the verdicts are political, they are wrong. What is of a crucial importance is that canceling the verdicts will be in favor of the unity legitimacy.

5- Establishing the unified State on the base of the unity agreements and constitution approved by the two parts of the country, or on the base of the pact document that was signed by both parties.

Q. What was your attitude toward the 1994's war?

A. I was against the war because I realized it would be a catastrophe on the unity, particularly as it was led by people who announced the national unity on behalf of the two parts. I attempted to reconciliate between the two Alis (al-Beed and Saleh) but the currents of war inside and outside the country was stronger than our efforts. The officials shifted direction of the plane that was carrying me from Sana'a to Aden to set the idea of reconciliation for Ali Salim al-Beed after I did so with the President Saleh, who did not show any refusal.

Because of changing direction of the plane without my knowledge, I could not reach Mr. Al-Beed till the second day. Al-beed's brother had been killed before I arrived in Aden, and the meeting was changed into condolence.

When the war broke out and the two sides used different kinds of weapons including Scud missiles, I called for a meeting in the political office and requested to know what the matter was and why scud missiles were fired against Sana'a. One of the northern officials (no need to mention his name since he was martyred, may Allah have mercy on him) interrupted by saying, “In war all kinds of weapons are used and nothing is prohibited or banned”.

After the two sides insisted the use of heavy weapons including missiles, I released a statement to al-Hayah newspaper in which I said that I support using all kinds of weapons against the military units but I was against firing missiles at cities irrespective of any justifications.

Q. Can you give us an insight about restructuring the Socialist Party, and do you have a proposal that was approved by the majority of the party leaders, and why are you always in disputes with other leaders of the party?

A. Any party is a political tool for achieving certain political goals. Such goals may be national or categorical, and a political party is necessarily structured according to these political goals.

As the political goals of the Yemeni Socialist Party are national ones and related to the war and its consequences, that is ending the war and reforming the national unity, this stipulates restructuring and establishing the party on the base of partisan territories according to documents of pacts and agreement.

It is true that the majority of party leaders are still hesitant but there are many others who seem to support the restructuring of parties on the base of territories.

Q. Does the Socialist Party still maintain its popularity among people all around the country or not?

A. The base was contracted somehow because of leaving power and also because of the embargo imposed upon the party as well the departure of its leaders. The Yemeni people in the south parts of Yemen held the Socialist Party accountable for their sufferings and endurance since it accepted unity.

Q. Any last comments?

A. I advocate all the Yemeni people in the northern parts of Yemen who are deprived of the political representation and back the opposition to adhere to the national unity since they are all of the idea to melt the southern identity into the northern one, as well as to integrate south into the north at the expense of the political unity agreed by the two parts. These people seem to account on their military power and number, creating the legitimacy of cessation.

The Yemenis in the south parts of Yemen will not accept that their history be eliminated and their identity melted. So I call them to acknowledge the unity, considering it a political unity between two states and not a national unity combining the government with the opposition.

I advocate all the government officials and the opposition leaders not to practice monopoly on the political life exploiting their power and huge number as it is actually experienced since the end of 1994' war. Since then, we have never found anyone to say the right. The society is perceived to support the authority against us.

Some people currently claim the government to dialogue with al-Houthi but object to any dialogue with us, though our issue is a national one and al-Houthi's is a religious issue related to sects, racial thoughts and concepts.