On the right track [Archives:2003/637/Opinion]

May 26 2003

Hassan Al-Haifi
When this observer was waiting to hear President Ali Abdullah Saleh speak on the Eve of the Anniversary of Yemen's Unification with some friends, some were asking if anybody could guess what His Excellency was going to say. Some of the friends said that he was going to discuss the issue of terrorism. Others said that he was going to speak about the new government and the important mandate he issued to the new Cabinet to get on the ball or else look for a job in two years' time. When it came to this observer's turn, I looked at my watch realizing that there was only one minute left before the speech and said: “His Excellency was going to announce the amnesty for all the people caught up in the frantic secession movement that collapsed before it had a chance to even breathe its first breath. Honestly speaking, I really had no idea what the President was really going to say at that time. Nor did I have any draft of his speech. However, knowing the astute capabilities of the President in making quick and sensible decisions before anybody would dare even suggest any such proclamation, I sensed that the President would wisely outgun his advisors and counselors and come out with a momentous proclamation that was to launch the first real efforts towards bringing all the needed drive to start setting this nation back on the track of reconciliation and cohesiveness. Surely, the Republic needs to get rid of all the hang-ups and as much of the divisions that stand in the way of Yemen taking on the real problems facing the country in the economy and the social front. While this decision was not based on any effort to clamp down on any hopes for the failing secessionist propagators, one could honestly say that any moves towards such ridiculous aspirations, would not only suicidal, but selfish and futile to say the least. Since the ending of the Civil War of 1994, it has been made ever so clear that Yemen was never to see itself divided into a multitude of political and sovereign entities. Since then, the institutions for the settlement of national unity have been laid deep in the social and mental fabric of Yemeni society that only a major earthquake could ever bring any schisms in the territory of the Republic of Yemen again, God forbid. After the speech, my friends were as much surprised by my ability to foresee the President's Proclamation as they were about the President's sensational words. They all looked at me and asked if I had any inkling of what was about to be said by the President. I swore to them that, I really did not have the slightest idea what His Excellency was going to say, but I just felt that it seemed to be just the right thing to do at that very moment. One of the friends tried to point out that the Proclamation was not really an amnesty since it only waived the sentences issued by the Court in Case No. 5, etc. I made it clear that as far as the President was concerned, that is the best he could ever do under the prevailing Constitutional circumstances, because a full amnesty declared by the President, would mean the interference of the Executive Branch in the powers of the Judicial System, and we know the President was wise enough not to wish to overstep his Constitutional authorities, by any means and for whatever reason. However, the President reinforced his sincere intentions by calling upon all the Yemenis, who had any fear of political repression to return back home and to “actively engage in the reconstruction of the country and the building of a modern Yemeni society”, or something to that effect. One is reminded of the momentous proclamation made by the late wise leader of Yemen, Qadhi Abdurrahman Al-Iriani, may God bless his soul, when he declared that all Yemenis who participated in the efforts to reinstate the monarchy in the 1960s during the First Civil War of Republican Yemen, are free to return to their homeland and actively engage in reconstructing the country. The result was that Yemen enjoyed one of its most exhilarating periods in post Revolutionary Yemen. One is inclined to believe that history might just repeat itself again as the last thorn standing in the way of cohesion of the people of Yemen has now been removed and the many productive elements that were caught up in the senseless secession drive would find their rightful niche in working productively towards bringing back some of the prosperity and harmony Yemen enjoyed during the Iriani regime and Al-Hamdi regimes and the pre-unification years of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. We really needed this kind of hope to be reinstilled in our hearts and minds again, Mr. President and we thank you very much for setting it ablaze again. Happy Unification Anniversary to all of Yemen and all Yemenis wherever they are.