WHAT IT MEANSYemen Pre-Transitional Emerging Democracy; Still More Democratic Constraints Over Opportunities [Archives:2008/1150/Local News]
Ahmed Hezam Al-Yemeni
No doubt that Yemen 1990 unification, bringing together in one state the Socialist of the South and the Regime of the North, introduced an emerging democracy and a multiparty system that allowed all, if not some, kinds freedoms to flourish – being one of The Socialist main demands over President Saleh table during the unification negotiation process. The new sociopolitical democratic atmospheres compared to the ones before the unification (with/in South and North Yemen) compared and in contrast to Yemen's regional sociopolitical democratic surroundings is/was surely considered a great victory to/for Yemen. Political Parties were created, the/a second coming of credible independent media and press, the emerging of new promising civil societies originations, and the restricted sociopolitical democratic margins of debate that existed – being all very positive indicators in/to Yemen new democracy march. However, The unfair civil war of 1994 came to terminate all the gains of its four previous years that was granted and protected by the balance that the socialists created; their progressive elites and their way of thinking; their semi national patriotic contemporary history (especially comparing to that of the regime of the North). By its 1994 civil war assumed military victory over the deceived southern un prepared peaceful military and security forces , the pre 1990 Northern brutal dictatorship regime was reawakened declaring a new old era in Yemen sociopolitical contemporary history of The Royalist Republic and The Shrinking Margins of Freedoms even with Red Lines. An era of/to continue marginalizing national sociopolitical institutions and assuring, if not even protecting, the absence of institutionalism. A regime that is built on controlled blessed encouraged corruption. A regime of extreme radical tribalism and traditionalism that is mixed with radical Islamic touches. A president that enjoy his natural wit and cunning in such extreme fantasies and sick illusions of/in divide and rule keeping (in the best way he and his tools can) the sociopolitical level of awareness of his citizens at its lowest level without any clear present or future national patriotic agenda favoring and siding with the Saudi and sometimes the American interests over that of his people and his land; if He is a Yemeni at all. The interests that will never fulfill his hunger and His European banks accounts.
In addition to all previous constraints, a socio political corrupted assumed elites, if any at all, that has no national democratic missions, what so ever, except their own gains and interests regardless of their western liberal thinking and back ground, if any at all, as some may characterize them or affiliate them with – just makes it worse for Yemen.
An emerging democracy or pre-transitional one, or pre-transitional emerging democracy cannot surely flourish with a general average weak, if not totally absence, public sociopolitical (and some time socioeconomic) level of awareness. The demands and the real progressive advanced steps, protection, and guarantees come first and last from the people. Weak Education System, public and individual enlighten ignorance, absence of elites and leadership models and guidance, absence of sociopolitical revolutionary movements, and lack of ideological approaches all helped in shaping and enhancing social public ignorance on the teaching spirits of democratic rights and freedoms; its tools, mechanism, and final destination. Moreover, one of the biggest constrains to full democracy if any (following the western example of liberal democracy; if necessary or perfect) beside the general sociopolitical public awareness is dictatorship. Authoritarian regimes; republics or monarchs, finds its best means to rule and flourish through strict unmerciful control sizing all the sources and preventing by all means and measures any democratic or semi democratic changes or even signs of it.
The third major component that put constrains over any fair democratic process in Yemen case is the direct and indirect regional and international interference and dynamics. Saudi Arabia major interests in Yemen, thought a neighboring Arab Islamic state (whatever this means), were to keep it/us busy distracted and divided. The contemporary history of their interference before and after the 1990 shows all kind of support for religious social and even political factions, illegal aids for loyal elites and sheiks (including monthly salaries and cut payments), enflaming and sometimes starting conflicts and clashes, and interference in state domestic and international relations/affairs which led to what Yemen is about now. They even monopoly Yemen natural and economic resources ending and reaching an agreement with the Yemeni regime to hand over all the bordering Yemeni lands that was ours for thousands of years in an unfair boarder treaty agreement that they, the Saudis, are not fully happy with yet.
Therefore, any senses of democracy that may brought changes that will kick out their loyal president/servant – who initially was brought and supported limitlessly by them – in such very bloody takeover of authority that was marked with assassination of the previous president of North Yemen Ibrahiem Al-Hamdi (done with an American CIA blessings and green light and may be logistical aid) and the killing of Yemen best military and civil intellectual elites – will not be appreciated sharpening all their tools and weapons to work against, terminating any such signs or changes before it is even born or even thought about/of. Some secondary constrains to democracy in Yemen is the lack of institutionalism and corruption. In such poor developing country were state administrative priorities is set far away from institutional building – mainly for financial recourses reallocations and absence of a state vision and professionalism, strong institutional neutral performance – will never be created and if started will be gone with the winds. Thus, no doubt that the absence of the political presidential will in this regard is the/a main factor. It is very clear that any strong or even an average professional credible Institutional independence and performance (from the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum to Security and Intelligence Authorities) is not wanted and desired at all. Therefore, weak divided Gov. Institutions should be established and kept through loyal contacts and chairs where corruption, then, must flourish with the regime blessings. So, loyalty will be not to the land and people but to the dictatorship mechanism even if corruption systematically starts to destroy all aspect of state and public private lives attempting to create and encourage a new parallel traditional and tribal structures and individuals to only maintain and run the daily life of the so called State.
One the Other hand, some small signs emerge from the previous social movements and inheritance and more from the new emerging political Islam interactions. The muslem brotherhood from their organizational structure, through their dedicated ideological individuals, to their political Islam interpretations and sociopolitical performance gave lots of positive indictors even within the small shrinking democratic margins that Yemen still enjoys. Their leadership, networking, public and NGOs concerns and outreach are very promising.
Moreover, many argue especially most recently with what is called the War on Terror that security is priority over democracy; a steady positive tangible development is more important than freedoms. All Rights and freedoms are granted and should be supported except the sociopolitical democratic electoral ones. Thus, all what we simply need is a just dictator and dictatorship. All nations should go through this era and time where all the modern physical and mental infrastructure should be build first. In the politics of reality, stability and economic prosperity may look different. Yemen as a poor developing country needs Saudi Arabia more than any democracy. Yemen has a hundred of thousands of immigrants in the neigh pouring Saudi Arabia resulting on huge economic benefits.
Thus, Yemen does still need a big huge trade partner such As Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the continuous economic, financial, and tangible aid Yemen government and sometimes people receive play a major role in Yemen socioeconomic semi prosperity. So, who needs democracy if more important priorities are set? Obedience, submission, and keeping low profile is highly needed putting Yemen National Interests First through serving the Saudis policies!
Still some may argue more that in such poor developing country like Yemen with lack of awareness and poor educational back grounds, institutionalism takes time like other countries around the world. Actually some believe that the informal blessing and legitimizing of corruption, which in Yemen mostly and dominantly small government administrative typed, is the only way the majority of people, middle class and poor can earn and live a kind of an average accepted life with. To conclude, since more negative sociopolitical indictors can be easily identified, referred to, acknowledged, and control the dynamics of the scenes: from the lack, if not the absence, of a general public average sociopolitical and even socioeconomic awareness to the existence of the Just Dictatorship and the Royalist Republic – through the regional interference and lack of institutionalism – Yemen Pre-Transitional Emerging Democracy still will witness and be affiliated and characterized more with more Democratic Constraints over any real future sociopolitical opportunities except with the usual shrinking margins of freedoms that the regime keeps only for healthy security and intelligence reasons and more western aids and marketing more than anything else.