As of 2021 the Republic of Yemen has entered its seventh year of conflict - conflict which has led to a disappearing of the socio-political fabric of Yemen’s tentative democratic tradition. Plagued by decades of political instability and rampant sectarianism, Yemen’s conflict can only be remedied through strong governance.
A country divided between two governments: an internationally recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and a de facto government run by Ansar Allah from the country’s capital, Sana’a, both competing authorities have failed to provide basic services to citizens, thus opening Yemen to rapid disintegration.
President Hadi’s government currently lacks the political clout required to operate inside Yemen in a cohesive and meaningful way.
Yemen’s regional and international stakeholders are also to blame for Yemen’s catastrophe. The blocked airports and seaports have fueled humanitarian atrocities. National solutions cannot go forward whilst the proxy war waged on Yemen’s soil is not stopped.
Following months of negotiations, a new cabinet was appointed under President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed in December 2020.
The two-party settlement is unlikely to translate into long-lasting peace. Most of the northern governorates are under Houthi control, making the agreement logistically impractical. Northern ministers will lack decision-making authority in the region, a direct challenge to the overall authority of the state and the Republic as it stands today.
The new government has so far successfully included 24 ministers - the representatives of major political forces in Yemen, with equal numbers of members from Northern and Southern regions, including the Southern Transitional Council (STC). However, such a power-share failed to adequately include the Tihama region, despite it being home to 23% of Yemen’s population.
In addition to the exclusion of the Tihama region, tribal leaders, and civil society actors, the new government has failed to include women – a failure that discredits the new government, especially since under the previous government women were offered an ever-increasing voice and role.
The federalization of the Republic of Yemen was the final outcome of the National Dialogue Conference, which agreed that Yemen would be transformed into a six-region federal system. The regions would be:
•Azal, Saba, Janad and Tihama in the North,
•Aden and the Hadramawt in the South.
We endorse this way forward in combination with national elections for a central government and local elections for regional assemblies. One credible approach would be for the central government to deal with national and international issues such as defence and internal security; the local governments to have devolved budgets to deal with all local issues such as infrastructure, healthcare and education. Members of regional assemblies to be empowered to vote by a two thirds majority to combine regions should they so wish.
We strongly advocate that autonomy and authority be restored to the people of Yemen. All parties should urgently work together on paving a way forward for Yemen; a way forward is only possible when international and national stakeholders take responsibility for their role in Yemen’s humanitarian atrocities. Strong governance is integral to building long-lasting peace, and even more so to avoid Yemen remaining a failed state. An entire generation having only been exposed to war, Yemen’s man-made humanitarian catastrophe may lead to the country’s permanent downfall.