Amid the Southern Dialogue

What shall come first; Political or regional dialogue?
Dr. Ahmed Sinan
August 17, 2022

Amid the Southern Dialogue

What shall come first; Political or regional dialogue?
Dr. Ahmed Sinan
August 17, 2022


Since the beginning, many voices were calling for the unification of the Southern Movement factions. Since 2007, it has been believed that there is one main goal that unites all the factions, and that what separates them is just minor details. Many observers believed that the details, no matter how numerous and ramified, could not be an obstacle to their unification.

However, subsequent events showed that this belief was based on a mere emotion fueled by illusion, and that there were facts that were absent from observation. For example, the 2011 youth revolution demonstrated that the Southern Movement factions are contradictory and do not converge on a clearly defined goal, and what is worse is that each of the parties to the regional and political conflict has its own movement faction that represents its interests.

The multiplicity of these factions was not as much political as it was regional, which makes it impossible for them to agree on one point, and this was clearly demonstrated by the war raging for more than seven years.

Southern Dialogue Invitations:

Calls for southern dialogue have not stopped, especially since the Cairo conference in 2011. The problem is that southerners, like northerners, the more they gather, the more dispersed they are than they were. The Cairo conference did not succeed in bringing together the southern contradictions, and it was not able to cancel or transcend the nature of those contradictions, because those in charge of it avoided looking into the causes of the southern problems and blamed the unknown. Some said ambiguous and loose words that do not lead to any truth.

Is saying that “everyone is wrong or everyone is responsible for what happened”) would be enough to heal all those wounds? Was it a mistake, a sin, or a crime? Is everyone responsible for what happened to the same extent?

The murderer and the murdered are not equal only to the extent that both are keen to kill each other first. But what about those who have been betrayed from all directions?

What is required? Political or regional dialogue?

Political dialogue basically means talking about the state and its institutions. It means that this dialogue is a vital debate between political programs that are not only achievable in reality, but are subject to criticism, modification, deletion, addition and correction. It also means that the interlocutors are equal parties who rely on philosophies, visions and civil popular rules.

In my opinion, I believe that the project of reconciliation and tolerance has been in a stalemate since day one. The choice of July 7 as a day of reconciliation and tolerance in the south would not have been equally appropriate if January 13 had been chosen, because in both cases it places one of the parties in the position of the conqueror who has the right to dictate its terms to the other perched in the position of the vanquished to accept those conditions.

Whereas, regional dialogue means researching the roots of the conflict between known regions about the illusion of the right to domination, exclusive power, and exclusivity of wealth. It means refuting the recognition of these regions’ right to benefit and the exercise of part of the power according to their specific weight and the militias, weapons and financial resources at their disposal at the expense of the majority of the country’s regions. Will the parties have to choose and compare between these two types?

The raging regional dialogue horse

Many voices are rising for a regional dialogue, as some say: "Dialogue with so and so," OK, present, but who will negotiate with so and so? To answer this question, another regional counterpart must be available in return for dialogue.

Not only that, but there are those who call for the protection of the borders of his province and the property of his village outside those borders.

Protecting the borders of the governorate necessarily means that there is another governorate that represents the hypothetical enemy that lurks in this governorate.

In this way, one can feel that the advocates of this dialogue are not talking about a state. Because the state is the only one concerned with setting borders for governorates, regions, and cities, and it has the exclusive right to cancel or modify those borders.

In addition, talking about the properties of this or that province outside its geographical framework is a violation of the right of the state and its property, this talk is a return to the feudal time and the struggle of the states over each other’s property, and therefore other provinces in this case become a legitimate target for invasion, looting and benefit.

Why would the south slip towards the regional discourse?

The regional discourse should not have been blatantly superior to the political discourse had there been conscious, effective and capable political elites.

It can be asserted that there are no real political elites, north and south, even if they wear civility as their garb.

Political elites cannot operate without the political tools that they have produced and accumulated during their long experience. Nor can the regional forces work without their regional apparatuses that are appropriate and mastered by them.

 After eliminating the political pluralism that had formed in Aden before independence, it gained rich practical experiences through what was called (the unification of the factions of national action), as if national action could only be upright with one leg, according to Stalin's approach that he followed in the Soviet Union since 1927, and before that time, political life was numerous.

Later, the Yemeni Socialist Party turned into a foreign political front for a multi-stage regional conflict, and was unable to get out of the maze of conflict of factional tribes. In this way, it differs only in form from the rest of the Yemeni parties, small and large. The conference, for example, arose on the basis of multiple influential powers (senior officers, chief merchants, tribal sheikhs, clergymen, large landlords), and then with the concentration of power it became an expression of familial and regional hegemony. Likewise, Islah, after it diverted from the Congress with a fatwa from President Saleh to carry out a specific job mission, was tempted by the new situation and brought it closer to achieving the goal of empowerment that the Brotherhood had been seeking since Al-Fadil Al-Wartalani. Although Islah is an ideological group, it was, and still is, expressing a fortified family and tribal domination that continued for decades.

And sometimes you find entities (which call themselves parties) that dominate their entire organizational structure, even if it is adorned with some frills from the governorates and other regions, this does not change its essence.

The biggest problem facing southern political action in particular is that the lessons from past experiences have not been absorbed. The events of January 13, 1986 were the storm wind that violated the territorial balance on which the political system was built. However, these events, despite their gravity, did not receive a deep analysis of their causes, motives, results, and risks arising from the repeated use of the same previous tools and mechanisms to produce a new political system. January 13, according to the writer Mansour Hayel, was “the biggest mass suicide and a clear and flagrant sign of the failure to manage disagreement and disagreement, and of lightness and slipping into the liquidation of opponents and murder, and rather the liquidation of the condition of life and human existence that is originally based on difference” (Mansour Hayel, Spectra of Aden, delirium of wood, p. 12).

Our problem is that we keep ruminating on the past with all its tools. We did not learn from that past nor did we preach. We seem to have an incomprehensible problem.

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