Yemen’s Unity and UAE Federation:Failed centralization and successful federalism [Archives:2008/1160/Opinion]

May 2 2008

By: Moneer Al-Mawri
During my brief stay in the United Arab Emirates over the past two weeks, I met businessmen and officials in the federal government, as well as in the local authorities. I also met educated people in the Gulf country and found that most of them, if not all, are closely observing what is happening in Yemen with grief and sadness.

More importantly, a state of grief and sorrow was even noticed among businessmen who are planning to invest in a virgin country like Yemen, but they avoid adventuring their capitals due to a lack of trust in Yemen's current government.

All the Gulf states, not only UAE, see the Yemeni Reunification as a fragile unity as the nation may fragment and split at any time in the future. They also see the political leadership in our country as failed since it proved unable to build necessary basic structures despite 30 years have passed since it first assumed power.

According to the Gulf states, Yemen's political leadership views investment as one of the forms of trading that must be lucrative to it irrespective of its benefits sought by people. Great portions of populations in the Gulf states project that changing Yemen's system of governance may help attract huge investments needed by Yemen and investors in the various areas.

Yemeni regime impedes investment:

The Gulf people hold the view that current system of governance in Yemen creates numerous obstacles to their plans aimed at initiating investment projects in the vulnerable country.

The current regime in Yemen tries to get closer to the Gulf States via imitating the negative aspects of those regimes in terms of bequeathing power to the sons and distributing wealth and resources to particular families and groups, but at the same time depriving the absolute majority of Yemeni citizens of benefiting from the natural resources in their homeland. These imitators don't understand that the ruling dynasties in the Gulf did not once bear any malice against their peoples. Instead, they expend hard efforts for the sake of their peoples' happiness and prosperity.

These dynasties, which we describe in Yemen as 'nomadic' managed to exploit returns from oil and other natural resources in favor of their peoples by establishing giant projects and providing all the basic services such as electricity, road networks, health and education. Except for Saudi Arabia, all the Gulf states are competing with the world's superpowers in the sense of reached achievements and services offered for their people.

The Emeriti people, for instance, enjoy the kind of social liberty whose influence is superior to that of the political freedom, which we are proud of in Yemen. The cities of Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are topping the list of world cities in terms of attracting foreign investments to their territories, thanks to the nomadic wisdom demonstrated by rulers in the Gulf state.

The government of UAE Federation never intervenes in what is happening in Dubai, Sharija or Ajman, and any local activities and projects in each emirate are exclusively handled and utilized by the emirate itself without any interference of the other emirates.

On the other hand, a small project in the Yemeni city of Aden may require a special permission from Ali Maqsa, an official in charge of Mr. President's projects, and it is impossible for anybody to approach Ali Maqsa except via Abdullah Al-Bashiri, Ali Al-Anisi, Abdu Bourigi or Aziz Mulif, the close tenure to President Saleh, who also work in his office, as administrators, journalists or top security guards.

We celebrated the 18th Anniversary of 22 May central and fragile unity, which the exiled Ali Salem Al-Beedh, President of once People's Democratic Republic of Yemen or South Yemen before the north and south merged in 1990, is responsible for announcing in such a fragile structure.

Thanks to the nomadic wisdom and prudence of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, the Emeriti citizens have understood that centralization is the strongest enemy of unity. Consequently, the late leader established a successful federation, which is one of the forms of decentralized unity and this federation may last for hundreds of years to come. The Emeriti people are due to celebrate the 38th Anniversary of establishing the federation next December.

Yemeni people are likely to be plagued by wars and fighting. Ultimately, they will understand how vital the late Sheikh Zayed's experience is to their unity and then think about establishing a federal unity to survive for hundreds of years in lieu of fragile merging due to expire on the first day of the death of its founder President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Until now, Saleh left no clear mechanism for his tenure to share power following his demise.