By: Hassan Al-Haifi
27 November 2014
The signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and the so called appended Executive Mechanism thereto on the 24th of November 2011 in Riyadh has thrown the Yemeni relatively current stagnant political quandary into an even more unpredictable path than desired by most people familiar with the Yemeni political scene. After more than 10 months of persistent protest by the peaceful Yemeni youth demanding the end of the long standing unbearable tyrannical rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh and his tight net regime of family led supporting institutions of government and military organs, this disappointing moment did everything but come anywhere close to upholding the wishes and aspirations of the peaceful revolutionaries and the latters’ millions of unwavering Yemeni supporters. Throughout this foregoing period, the Yemeni protesters and their backers continuously demonstrated and demanded to see their desires for a legitimate comprehensive change in government and all aspects of communal society become a reality. Even worse, the unbelievably horrendous legal ramifications set forth by the unprecedented stipulations of immunity guarantees, in this latest political folly of international and regional diplomacy, of impunity from any legal proceedings for a long record of violations by senior government officials of the Saleh regime does set dangerous legal standards in international civil and criminal law, as rightly pointed out by Amnesty International: ““Granting immunity as part of the transition agreement would deliver a hammer blow to accountability for human rights violations by blocking the investigation or prosecution of high-ranking officials,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Acting Director for the Middle East and North Africa. Most leading independent youth leaders in the peaceful revolutionary squares throughout Yemen, as well as many of those even affiliated with the signatory parties [members of Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) alliance of “official opposition parties” and other components of revolutionary factions, civilian and military], to this so called “transition agreement”, are fully convinced that the peaceful Youth Revolution must proceed with even greater vigor and aggressiveness, while strictly adhering to a non – violent and peaceful approach. The peaceful youth of Yemen have found that there is an unfortunate lack of genuine concern by the regional neighbors of Yemen and by the International Community to the legitimate demands, for which thousands of Yemenis have sacrificed their lives over the last year and throughout the regime’s thirty-three years span, that one of the most suppressive and corrupt regimes in the world today has reigned in Yemen. It goes without saying that many prominent patriotic Yemenis have yearned to see Yemen free from the yoke of Saleh and his clan led regime of “official” and unofficial thugs. All these outspoken critics eventually ruthlessly became victims of the clamp down with an iron fist on any form of opposition, adopted by the regime’s official and informal mercenary security apparatus. It is no secret to most informed Yemenis and even outside followers of the Yemeni scene, that many opponents were subjected to assassinations, torture, disappearance, etc, without any revelation as to the causes and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. While keeping to a highly respectable discipline of non-violence and peaceful expressions of protest, the revolting peaceful youth of Yemen demonstrated to the world the real suppressive nature of Saleh and his proclivity for shedding blood as the sole method of silencing any opposition. Even with the unfortunate manifestations of violence characterizing the regime’s armed confrontations with some of the military and paramilitary components, which declared their support for the revolt, the peaceful youth of Yemen categorically refused to be part of such often dubious demonstrations of what many leaders of the Youth Revolution viewed as being tantamount to possible staged violent political confrontations. Nevertheless, it was not difficult to conclude that even these aggressive pursuits by the regime and some of its long-time allies (some of whom have declared their support of the Youth Revolt) would not push the youth to any violent renditions of the Revolution. They realized, rightly, that the orientation towards full scale violent confrontations, even if for legitimate self defense, would have resulted in catastrophic consequences, with the large quantity of arms in the country (which the youth also possessed as well). The regime would have also looked to such orientations as a blessing in order to release its vengeful and bloodthirsty military and security organs commanded mostly by Saleh’s sons and relatives to unleash their formidable firepower indiscriminately against all suspected opponents, with incalculable innocent collateral casualties. With the obvious disrespect that the Saleh regime has for due process, the toll in innocent lives and destruction of public and private property would have been devastating. One only has to recall the tolls of the Civil War of 1994 (ten thousand lives plus US $ 10 billion in destruction) against the former unification partners of former South Yemen, as well as the more recent Seven Wars of Sa’ada, where thousands lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their homes [350 thousand “internally displaced persons (IDP’s)”, according to official government counts], to imagine the results that a more comprehensive national civil war would have yielded had the youth resorted to a violent confrontation. As has been previously stated here and on several bulletins of the youth groups in the Change Squares, the GCC Initiative, in all its revisions and with all its appendices (made public and otherwise) does not answer to the real genuine demands of the Revolutionary youth of Yemen and the Yemeni people. The latter are extremely surprised by the total lack of attention to the most important component of the current revolution in Yemen – the launchers of the protests that have continued now for 10 months without abatement or even slowdown – the youth and millions of Yemenis that support them and participate in their protest marches and rallies since the Revolution began 10 months ago. Notwithstanding all the harsh and bloody efforts of the remaining elements of the Saleh regime to crush the revolt and the freedom and change squares, the latter of which have achieved a permanent presence in just about every Governorate of Yemen, the youth of Yemen persist in seeking to achieve the complete overthrow of the corrupt and incompetent Saleh regime, peacefully. The youth rightly insist that there should be no escape from accountability whatsoever, as wrongly suggested by the GCC Initiative and reinforced by Security Council Resolution 2014 on Yemen (by inference to adherence to the former). The youth of Yemen and the millions of Yemenis, who march with them every Friday and any other days on which the youth have organized rallies or marches of protest, insist that no one is above the law and all confiscated human rights and resulting cruelty of the regime to suppress the protests must be subject to judicial due process and the perpetrators thereof should be prosecuted and punished accordingly. This is the only way that the Yemeni people will be able to confirm that their rights are sacred and their violation will not be given legitimacy, no matter what decrees, agreements or resolutions suggest otherwise. Human rights and civil liberties should never be left to the discretion of dictators, despotic or autocratic regimes to compromise as they wish, whenever they wish and then be awarded legitimacy by the international community based on rather absurd weak justifications, dictated more by narrow interests than the proper application of law and justice, and erroneously justified by an unregulated “war on terrorism”. The number of innocent lives (including children and allied military personnel) falling on account of the latter (in Yemen and elsewhere) continue to add more doubt to the fruitfulness and effectiveness of the latter. Having said all the foregoing, since the UNSC Resolution 2014 was issued on the 21st of October 2011, rather than be thankful for the generosity and appeasement by which the international community has dealt a blow to international law and justice, the Saleh regime thinks that it can still carry on with business as usual. The cruelty of the security and military organs commanded by the sons and nephews of Ali Abdullah Saleh continue to unleash the vast firepower at their disposal against unarmed citizens of Yemen. The people of Yemen are doing no more than calling for the restoration of their freedom and liberty and the right of equal access to the natural and financial resources of the land and the right of equal opportunities in education, health and public services. To prove the regime’s insistence that the latter is not to be accorded, the regime continues to withhold electricity service, water supply and fuel supply from citizen as collective punishment to the Yemeni people for supporting the Revolution of the youth of Yemen or in order to make logistics as impossible as possible for citizens to amass with the revolting youth. Accordingly the youthful peaceful protesters of Yemen and their unarmed public supporters emphasize the following: 1) Immunity granted to Saleh and his consorts under the GCC Initiative and annexes or any other instrument constitute a clear violation of the human rights of the innocent victims of the suppressive use of force by the Saleh regime’s security and military organs commanded by his sons and nephews. 2) The GCC Initiative does not include any stipulations for the dismissal of Saleh’s sons, nephews and other relatives and clan members from the senior command positions of the remaining military and security forces, as well as the civilian organs of government. This leaves the latter under the firm control of the regime – and Saleh – and do not respond to the demand of the youth for a total transfer of authority in all aspects of government in Yemen and for the restoration of these organs to regulated civilian authority. 3) The so called “transition agreement” signed in Riyadh allows Saleh, his relatives and consorts to maintain ownership of illicitly funneled assets and resources of the Yemeni people and to escape punishment from the hoarding and laundering of public funds and assets, not to mention the stolen private properties of thousands of Yemenis in both the northern and southern governorates. There are also no provisions for the freeze and confiscation of illicitly and fraudulently stolen and accumulated funds and assets of Saleh, his relatives, and consorts and other backers of Saleh in and out of government. 4) The GCC Initiative and supporting annexes do not include any known remedial penalties, consequences and actions if Saleh defies and continues to violate the provisions of the UNSC Resolution 2014 or even the GCC Initiative. This would include demanding that Saudi Arabia cease to continue to supply arms, money and other assistance to the regime of Ali Abdulla Saleh, including the payroll expenditures for the Government’s military and civilian personnel. This would certainly help to remove some of the reasonable doubts as to the impartiality of the Saudi Government as one of the sponsors of the GCC Initiative. 5) The youth of Yemen see the formula reached for “transition” as more of the same methods that Saleh has maintained control of the Government and the resources of the land for the last thirty years, including the same factions and elements he has repeatedly relied on to insure continuity of his tight stranglehold on authority in Yemen. Surely, this is not the reason for which so many of the youth of Yemen and their supporters have sacrificed and lost their lives. 6) The youth of Yemen do not consider any of the signatories to the GCC Initiative and Implementation as being either representing them or possessing any powers of attorney to sign on their behalf. Therefore the real launchers of the Anti Saleh Regime Peaceful Revolution consider all the youth revolutionary groups and factions in the revolutionary change squares throughout Yemen as not in any way being party to this agreement or obligated by any of its stipulations and provisions. Thus, the insistence of the youth protesters to continue with their camp-ins and protests against the Saleh regime and its subsequent political arrangement set forth in the GCC Initiative and its annexed Implementation Mechanism as long as necessary are legitimately justified by all international laws, conventions and agreements. Such camp-ins, mass protest marches and rallies and all other peaceful means of protests shall continue until the Yemeni people are satisfied that they have achieved their legitimate aspirations of real freedom, liberty and civil rights and the establishment of a civilian and democratic corruption free government of institutions, with the achievement of equal opportunities for all Yemenis, judicious application of law and order and the adoption of a peaceful, democratic and systematic transition of government authority, which rests on transparency and accountability in the performance of all government institutions and personnel at all levels. After all, that is what the Revolution was really all about.