No dialogue without involvement of all parties concerned [Archives:2008/1164/Opinion]

June 16 2008

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahiri
President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called on all political parties in Yemen to participate in a national dialogue while the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) General Secretariat specified a seemingly irrelevant vision for dialogue, which was published in ruling party-affiliated newspapers.

The first remark is that what has happened is merely an announcement that contains no real vision for dialogue. On the contrary, it contained major obstacles to dialogue such as the ready-made charges directed to citizens of South Yemen and Houthis. The ruling party invited Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) to join them in a war against Houthis and citizens of southern governorates as a primary condition for dialogue.

The dialogue announcement was accompanied by a series of governmental procedures hindering dialogue, one of which is extending the imprisonment terms for critics and protest activists contrarily to the relevant laws placed in effect.

The relevant authorities in the government adjourned trials of those detained over protests and alleged collaboration with Houthi-led rebellion and refused to open the Sa'ada crisis dossier for journalists and civil society activists. These authorities also refused to receive a letter for popular campaign entitled “Together against Sa'ada Fighting” but invented justifications they are planning to use in the future to cover up any illegal and arbitrary practices against opposition activists.

The government is planning to crack down on groups of 'Promote goodness and prevent evil' which are said to be behaving in a way contradicting statutes of official and popular organizations since their programs are implemented via dishonest coordination with regional parties.

Therefore, the so-called vision has not specified the executive mechanisms for dialogue. The best thing for the vision was to name President of the Republic or Prime Minister to moderate the dialogue in the name of the authority because both Presidential Palace and Council of Ministers are the only institutions that possess the direct tools for executing many terms of the dialogue. The vision should not have named GPC, which is a random organization, to be in charge of moderating the dialogue.

The so-called vision is nothing more than a plot machinated by the ruling party to involve JMP members in extortion and irresponsible acts, which are justified by the ruling party's policies. Have Mr. President and his party become so arrogant until the extent of arranging things upside down? Or will this arrogance be in favor of JMP that may accept a dialogue with such repulsive data?

Unprecedented collapse:

Practically, it is clear that the authority, due to its accumulative failure from the past days, is progressing toward an unprecedented collapse. This authority is no longer able to end ongoing fighting in North Yemen or stop escalating protests in the southern governorates before it is time for it to start the process of voter registration and prepare for the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 2009.

This implies that it is impossible for the government to mislead people by saying the current situations may help allow Yemen to conduct real and safe elections as scheduled. Consequently, dialoguing on election mechanisms is no longer a priority.

Ending Sa'ada fighting, resolving South Yemen's issue, reforming the election system and improving performance in the various government offices is the correct order of these four top priority issues to be dealt with one by one. And, conducting a dialogue with this list of top priority issues requires effective participation of all parties involved such as protest activists in South Yemen and Houthi-led rebellion leaders in northern Sa'ada province.

The JMP and government should avoid the policy of guardianship or the policy of labeling themselves honest in order to reprimand protest activists via inventing the kind of justifications relating with selfish motives that are impossible to resist real facts. Accepting involvement of these parties in dialogue brings to mind the principle reading; “It is impossible for a doctor to diagnose and treat the wound in the absence of the wounded person.”

If these motives lead the authority and JMP to reject involvement of all those concerned in the dialogue, the situation will complicate, thereby producing new problems, while the government and JMP will find themselves in the future before additional complex issues that make the dialogue impossible.

The JMP and authority has to remember that if the rounds of previous dialogues, limited to discussing election mechanisms, were credible and successful, they would never found themselves before additional terms and conditions.

Therefore, a successful dialogue requires full participation of those involved, who in return should attempt to put a stop to military operations in the north and security crackdowns in the south, as well as release all the political detainees in the various government jails. Holding dialogue in the presence of President of the Republic or Prime Minister should also be considered a primary condition.