هذا ما استقرت عليه نفسي ” لايوجد نصر بلا معركه و لا توجد معركه اذا لم نخضها.. لننتصر اذن”
في صراعي الداخلي احتاج لحوار صوته خافت و منطقه قوي يعيد ترتيب اولياتي الثوريه و السياسية و يبعث الأمل في ان الاستمرار في صناعة الحل ممكن في واقع من الخيبات التي تردينا صرعى و نحن بكامل اناقتنا بعد حلم كبير اسمه “الثورة”
كل شيء سار في طريق لا يشبه الطريق الذي اردته له ..لا يشبه صرختي الاولى ضد الظلم لا يشبه حلمي في مظله من العداله ووطن يحتضن الجميع و يلامس الانسان في مواطنيه
صدق محمود درويش حين قال :
جاءت لحظات فضلت فيها الانسحاب من لعبة قاعدتها الغش لا انت تفوز و لا انت تستمتع بمراحلها المختلفه و جاءت لحظات اخرى يقوى فيها الايمان بالصوت الذي نملكه و نحياه و انه لابد لصداه يوما و ان طال ان يترك الاثر
تابعت عن كثب كالجميع الى اين يمضون باليمن و بنا جميعا و رغم اننا جميعا في نفس السفينه الغارقه كان الفارق الوحيد انهم سيتأكدون من غرقها لانهم يمتلكون قوارب نجاه بينما نحن من حمل الصيحات الاولى لبعث الحياه في بلد حرمت كثيرا من الحياه لا خيار اخر لنا سوا السباحه حتى تنهك قوانا
أخبرونا أن الحل سيولد في مؤتمر الحوار الوطني .. الحدث الذي يبتظره الجميع بين متلهف لمكسب ما و شامت يتطلع لاقتناص كل الاخطاء و اثباط الامل.. و متشائم اكتفى من زور كل الوعود على شفاه الساسة و طامح بسيط ان على الجميع تحمل المسؤوليه و لا ضير في السير الى الحل و المحاوله
هناك سباق مؤلم غير معلن و تنافس يخلو من الشرف في معظمه للاسف و مواقف متخبطة تعود الى عدم النضج الثوري كما احب تسميته او قد تعود الى تسارع الاحداث التي قد لا تدع مجالا لدراسه الموقف و التقرير بشأنه بشكل موضوعي او هادف..
يحدث ان يعلنون مقاطعتهم للمبادره الخليجيه ثم يلعنونك انك لم تخرج لتعطي صوتك للمرشح الوحيد في المسرحيه الاكبر.. يحدث ان يعلنون غضبهم من كل لجنه شكلت باسم الشباب و كل عضو تم اختياره و يهاتفونه في الليل سعيا لكسب مباركته او تجميلا لاسمائهم حين يخلو مقعدا في الغد في ذات اللجنه التي لعنوا بالامس.
يحدث ايضا انهم ينقادون لخيارات خصومهم قبل ان يدركوا ما يحدث او ان ينسحبوا بهشاشه من حلبة الصراع عند اول ضربه تاركين للخصم فرصه ذهبيه للتربع على عرش الملعب
الخطيئه الثوريه الاولى التي لم نستطع تجاوزها هي ذاتها من يستقبلنا في كل خطوة نقدم عليها او فعل .. الشك هو خطيئتنا الذي فتت روابط الثقه و هو ما يطلق علانيه حين نتحدث تحديدا عن التمثيل
اربعون مقعدا فقط هو نصيب الشباب المستقل في مؤتمر الحوار الوطني من اصل 565 مقعدا. لا تكفي!
حقيقة لا يعنيني العدد بقدر ما يعنيني قوة صوتهم و وضوح رؤيتهم في المؤتمر ففي نهايه المطاف شخصيه قياديه واضحه الرؤيه تقود جموع من الناس اذن فالعدد ليس معضله كبيرة و ان كان مجحفا.
التخوف الذي ينتابني و قد اتحدث هنا بقليل من التعميم انه تخوف المستفلين بشكل عام هو ان يتم ادراج ممثلين من الاحزاب السياسيه ضمن الاربعين مقعد حيث يصعب اثبات انتمائهم الحزبي في ظل عدم وضوح معايير الفصل بين المستفل و غيره.
لذا انا مع اقتراح عضوة الجنه الفنيه للتحضير للحوار الوطني المتستقيله رضيه المتوكل. ان الحل هو تشكيل فرق رقابه شبابيه تعمل بعد اعلان اسماء لجنه الشباب المستقل ال40 و تفحص تاريخهم حتى يثبت عليهم ما يدين و يمنع تمثيلهم.
الصراع الذي واجهته هو ما جدوى ان نشارك في الحوار اذا كنا لا نثق في حقيقه الامر ان الامور ستؤول الى خير او الى ما نصبو اليه.
استشرت من اثق في حكمهم و اشاروا عليا مجمعين بأنه علينا المشاركه
“حيث لا تكون انت يكون خصمك”
قبل ان نستبق الحكم و انا اعلم ان كل ما سبق لا يدعو كثيرا للطمانينه في جديه الحوار و لكن كيف لنا ان نعلم اذا قررنا الانسحاب قبل ان تبدأ الجوله.
علينا جميعا ان نستشعر المسؤوليه الواقعه على عاتقنا و ان نكون حيث يكون لصوتنا صدى لا يجب حقيقة ان نومن بجدوى الحوار الوطني قبل حدوثه علينا فقط ان نؤمن بأنفسنا و بالقيم لتي نحمل فلا صوت اقوى من أصواتنا سيعكسها ..
لكل مؤمن بقدرته على التغيير لنحلم معا كما فعلنا من قبل .. لنتكاتف لصناعه الحلم.. سأتقدم للمؤتمر الحوار و سانتظركم لتتقدموا ايضا و نضع ايدينا معا و نصنع طاوله للحوار تشبهنا.. ان تم قبولي اتطلع لدعمكم كفريق يقف خلفي و بجانبي لنصبح قوة ذات شأن و ان لم يتم سأواصل دعمي لكم طالما نحمل ذات القيم ..
As my friends always advice me to write down my diaries, keep the moments and the lessons I gain from life on day to day bases, I decided to start publishing some of these stories. To share with my readers these lessons or even emotions. Basically once you read my stories I would like you to try to be in my shoes, would you react the same why I did or differently?
In April 2012 at Syracuse, USA I was part of a one day workshop on developing consensuses to reach agreement. I believe I was the only and the first Yemeni those people ever met. Except one Irish American man in his 50s or 60s who later told me that I am the only Yemeni he meets “Alive”.
During the training I was loud as usual and made some funny comments so during the coffee break some of the attendees walked towards me to get to know me better but the that man waited until the crowed went back to their seat then he approached me. I knew he would say one short sentence that I won’t need to comment back to as he chose to talk to me at the very last minute before we start the session again. . And yes my assumption was right but I got to admit the one short comment he made kept me a wake for days.
“Hey, I am … I want to apologize, I used to kill your people for living” He said expressionlessly.
I had a smile bending on my face. It’s the smile that I have at all times. A smile that was prepared as I expected him to say a nice complement like the others, to my surprise, I had no response to that but the same smile that I finally released.
As everyone else were setting down, I asked him “Why do you tell me this?” I needed to know what benefit or gain he would have from apologizing with n emotions for killing.
“Because I can’t sleep fighting this feeling. I was obeying the orders when killed those people without even knowing them” he simply answered. He explained more that he joined a civil movement against American drone strikes after his retirement from the army, and that he has been raising awareness on how painful and ugly to simply kill others for some reasons you don’t even know.
Although he looked indifferent of the impact of his words I had one smile left for him, still don’t know if it was the right reaction at the time. I found myself saying “It is awful indeed, what matters now is that you regret it and do the right thing”, at that point the trainer voice got louder asking us to get back to our seats.
I went back to my seat and lost my previous mood and my focus too. I kept catching him staring at me; I never understood what is it that made him share this information with me. Once the class was dismissed I looked at his seat but he was gone already.
I went back home that night with my friends celebrating one of my friends birthday with very limited food, I kept thinking all night why did he tell that moreover I kept thinking if I said it was right what too, Who am I to accept this apology on behalf of a nation? Was it really my choice? And if it was should not I be more aggressive? doesn’t he deserve to be killed for the same guilt he just admit in public? Is “sorry “enough to bring back the dead? I would always choose peace over aggression I just don’t know if it was right or wrong though.
Report of the Secretary-General on Yemen pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2014 (2011) and Resolution 2051 (2012)
1. Yemen has just witnessed a historic milestone on the 23rd of November, marking
one year since the signing of its peace and transition Agreement. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-Moon was there in person to commemorate this achievement, assuring
Yemenis of the United Nations’ full support for their peaceful transition. During the
months preceding, most would have believed such an agreement unimaginable.
Indeed, during this period, I have seen in Yemen a nation in turmoil and a state on
the verge of collapse.
2. I have seen the capital city, Sana’a, divided and under artillery fire, making life for
the civilian population unbearable. I have seen, and been among, the demonstrators
calling for change, as they camped out in tents on the streets and squares of the
capital and other major cities for months. I have been to the North of the country,
where armed conflict has persisted and armed clashes still occur. And I have been in
the South, where the future unity of the country has been put into question. Most
Yemenis during this period lived in darkness, and suffered from shortages in cooking
fuel and a scarcity of basic food supplies. Moreover, we all observed with increasing
alarm how Al Qaeda managed to expand its influence, gaining at one time control
over significant swathes of territory in the South. Conflict and insecurity prevailed,
and there was a real threat that the situation would degenerate into a full-scale civil
3. During this period of protracted stalemate, the Secretary-General took the
initiative to utilize his good offices to help resolve the deadlock, when the GCC
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4 December 2012
Initiative remained unimplemented. In the end, after six intensive trips to Yemen, we
managed a way forward, building on Security Council resolution 2014 adopted in
October, which called for a political settlement, and the tremendous efforts of the
GCC. The Transition Agreement (which we named the Implementation Mechanism of
the GCC Initiative) signed in November last year, engaged the former regime and
opposition in a clear process for transition to good democratic governance. This
Agreement went far beyond simply replacing one individual or governing party with
4. Rather than resigning, the President Saleh agreed to transfer his powers to his
deputy, and to make way for early presidential elections. All sides agreed to support
a consensus candidate who commanded the trust and respect of all. A government
of national unity would exercise power during a two-year transition phase, during
which the military and security forces would be restructured under a unified
command, a national dialogue conference would be held, feeding into a constitution making
process to be approved by referendum, and finally a fresh set of elections set
for February 2014.
5. We made sure the following elements were included in the Agreement:
A path for fundamental reforms in the practice of governance and
redress for the wrongs of the past;
Recognition of the role of the youth, and a clear path for their
participation in the transition and the realization of their aspirations;
A focus on political inclusion – giving an opportunity for the people of
Yemen to shape their country’s future and establish a new
And full representation of women throughout the entirety of the
6. Through this framework, the handover of power to a Government of National
Unity has occurred successfully. In February, the second phase of the Transition was
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4 December 2012
ushered in when President Hadi was elected with overwhelming numbers, in a poll
that was at the same time a kind of referendum on the November agreement and on
the transition as such.
7. Now, one year in, an air of normality has taken hold in most parts of the country.
I commend President Hadi for his leadership and I also commend the efforts made by
the Government under Prime Minister Basendwa that has allowed the country to
move forward. The fight for control of the cities by rival militaries has ended, with
freedom of movement being restored throughout major urban centres. However, we
cannot shy away from the reality that the road ahead remains long and arduous as
Yemen continues to face grave challenges on multiple fronts.
8. First, there is the difficult issue of military restructuring. The armed forces
remain divided between two sides. One camp, the powerful Republican Guards, led
by the former President’s son, and the other, the 1st Armoured Division, led by
General Ali Mohsen, who broke from the regime during last year’s uprising.
Corruption remains widespread throughout the institution. A system of patronage
favours loyalty to military leaders and not the State. Some top military leaders are
notoriously engaged in business and politics. Army commanders are able to engage
in murky business dealings, smuggling subsidized fuel, and inflating the numbers of
those in service, pocketing the excess income from these ghost positions. President
Hadi has taken initial and courageous steps to address military reform. However, the
formidable task of integrating the military and security forces under one command
will remain a serious challenge during the transition, and will require systemic
9. State authority remained limited in parts of the country. Clashes between the
Houthis and Salafists and tribal groups associated with the Islah party have left
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4 December 2012
dozens of people dead in the North. The country remains awash with arms with new
shipments still reportedly coming in.
10. Terrorism remains a serious threat. In June, government forces under President
Hadi’s leadership were able to dislodge Al Qaeda elements from areas that had fallen
under its control. However, this has led AQAP to desert the open field and instead,
disperse and infiltrate major cities. The continuous spate of terrorist attacks against
government targets in Sana’a is evidence of this development, including last week’s
abhorrent killing of a Saudi military attaché.
11. In terms of governance, one year into the transition, it is clear that the
honeymoon period is over. Yemenis now expect the government to deliver – to
provide better security for the nation and basic social services. Coalition
governments are, however, often the product of unhappy relationships, bound
together in unnatural partnerships. In this case, the distrust between the two
principal political blocks constituting the Government of National Unity has never
dissipated and remains entrenched. Disputes over civil service appointments are just
one example of the issues polarizing the two sides: the GPC feels it is being unfairly
targeted for removal while the former opposition – now in the government -
complain of insufficient representation and remain adamant in seeking
appointments for key positions.
12. While both sides signed on to take part in a Government of National Unity, their
war continues through the media. Partisan reporting by media outlets owned by
each side continues to inflame an already acrimonious relationship. Former President
Saleh remains active as the leader of the GPC party – and often acts as the leader of
the opposition, demonizing the Government of National Unity – despite it being halfcomposed
of his own party and allies. What many politicians fail to realize is that the
political landscape is changing, with prospects for shifting alliances. They continue to
view the situation with a perspective locked in the past and in static alliances, rather
than looking ahead to new realignments.
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4 December 2012
13. Unrest in the South has its roots in the marginalization and discrimination of
Southerners since unification and their perceived lack of access to resources and
opportunities. Long standing grievances have left many in the South feeling
excluded. Since 2007, Southerners have mobilized to demand equal access to
employment and government services, land reform, and a degree of local autonomy.
This movement known as the Hiraak, began as a rights-based movement demanding
equality under the rule of law. Years of empty promises have deepened resentments
and radicalized some in the movement toward a maximalist agenda for a separate
14. In my outreach to Hiraak leaders in Aden and Cairo, I explained that the
National Dialogue provides an opportunity to address the Southern question through
dialogue and compromise and in accordance with Security Council resolutions. I
urged them to renounce violence and to participate in the process with no preconditions.
I also urged the government to take confidence-building measures to
address the grievances of Southerners – of those who were unjustly dismissed from
the civil service and the military in the aftermath of the 1994 war, and of those
whose land and other properties were confiscated. Concrete progress with regard to
these matters would provide an enabling environment for a constructive start to the
15. Yemen’s humanitarian situation remains in acute crisis. Our humanitarian
colleagues tell us that nearly half the population of Yemen are food insecure – an
alarming number living on the edge of starvation. A quarter of a million children are
severely malnourished and at risk of dying without proper nutrition interventions.
Access to clean water eludes more than half the population, and basic health care
remains an aspiration for nearly a quarter of the population. Struggling to provide
basic services, Yemen is nonetheless one of the most generous refugee hosting
countries with over 230,000 refugees and half a million internally displaced. The
2012 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan which requires $585 billion (US) dollars is
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4 December 2012
only 57 per cent funded, leaving a funding gap of more than a quarter of a billion
16. On the economic front, there are modest signs of progress. Inflation is
decreasing and the decline in economic activity has slowed. The exchange rate that
had fluctuated during 2011 has now stabilized, reaching the same levels as before
the crisis. The momentum of Yemen’s transition and recovery must be sustained with
strong support from the international community, and especially its regional
partners. Through meetings in Riyadh and in New York, Yemen’s partners have
confirmed their commitment in over $7.5 billion of pledges to help Yemen with its
economic recovery. Continuous engagement of Yemen’s development partners,
together with the establishment of a new intra-governmental coordinating body to
support implementation of the pledges, will help channel funds effectively so that
Yemenis can start seeing an improvement in their daily lives.
17. The upcoming National Dialogue provides an opportunity for Yemenis to build a
future that meets the aspirations of all. In this regard, the Preparatory Committee
for the National Dialogue, as an all inclusive body, may be the crucible for the new
Yemen. My team and I spent many long days and hours working with the Committee.
It has been a great inspiration to see youth, women, civil society, and representatives
of political parties, representatives from the South and the Houthis participating
constructively within the Committee. Indeed, the diverse composition and
deliberative work of the Committee – often in good spirit resulting from the genuine
commitment of the participants – has helped them reach decisions based on
consensus and compromise.
18. A few days ago, the Committee became deadlocked over the issue of
representation and allocation of seats at the Conference. At their request, I put
forward ideas to help the national dialogue process move forward, while stressing
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4 December 2012
that there is no one ideal formula that would satisfy all stakeholders. I am pleased
that, with this last contentious issue resolved, the long hours and efforts of the
Committee are coming to a conclusion. The fruits of their efforts will soon deliver a
final report and other elements finalizing the rules and structure of the Conference.
Fully consistent with UN standards, we have been successful in supporting the
demands of local women’s groups for a representation of at least 30 per cent of
women in the National Dialogue.
19. We have been actively supporting preparations for the national dialogue
through initial funding from the UN peace-building fund. We have now established a
multi-donor trust fund to channel international support for the process in a
coordinated fashion and encourage all donors to contribute, to ensure the timely
launch of an effective national dialogue conference. Our assistance will continue
through the period of the constitution-making process and the holding of elections.
20. I am pleased to report that a new electoral commission has been established by
decree. In order to keep within the transition timeline, it will be critical for the new
commission to focus on creating a new voter registry. The road towards fresh
elections may seem long and difficult.
21. For the country to move forward, a true reckoning of past injustices and steps
to heal old wounds are essential. There is a strong sense amongst Yemenis that the
transition will remain in suspension in the absence of reconciliation efforts, including
restitution or compensation for victims as well as guarantees against recurrence and
an end to impunity. With these aims in mind, we hope that an amended draft Law on
Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation will be adopted by consensus.
22. The transition is threatened by those who have still not understood that change
must now occur. Spoilers of all sorts have not given up. They are keen to impede this
transition and to profit from instability. In the past few days, Yemenis have once
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4 December 2012
again been left in darkness with no electricity. Oil and gas pipelines continue to be
attacked, causing the Yemeni treasury to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in
revenue. Many Yemenis expect the Security Council to keep a careful watch on the
spoilers’ actions and to hold them to account.
23. We will continue to work closely with members of the Security Council, the
GCC, the European Union and other international partners, and in particular, the
active diplomatic community in Sana’a, to support Yemen’s transition and to help
keep it on track within the agreed timeline. We count on the continued consensus in
the Security Council that has played a crucial role in supporting a peaceful transition
24. We are all determined to continue supporting a transition that is unique in the
region, and one that is based on a clear roadmap. It is a transition that has the
overwhelming endorsement of the population. It is a transition that offers the
opportunity for meaningful participation of all, men, women and youth. And it is a
transition that offers a genuine perspective towards unlocking the potential that we
all see in Yemen. Yet, while there are tremendous challenges, I am convinced that
Yemen has the potential to be a prosperous country, a country that can become
stable, and a country that is governed according to the genuine will and aspirations
of its population.
25. Change in the region has all too often been borne by sacrifices that should not
have been necessary, and that we cannot ignore. Yemenis have shown us, however,
that the time of the gun as a tool to answer the legitimate aspirations of citizens has
passed, and that a peaceful transformation can emerge from the ashes of conflict. As
the Secretary-General observed during his visit to the country two weeks ago,
Yemeni men and women have armed themselves instead with the principles of
wisdom, mutual respect and peaceful interaction, and have thus avoided the abyss of
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4 December 2012
To read this report in Arabic go to this link:
لقراءة التقرير بالعربيه انقر الرابط:
Last updated: November 8, 2012
Shatha Al-Harazi takes a look at a British film production and questions its ability to portray her native Yemen.
Last month the US Embassy in Sana’a along with the British Embassy and the British Council screened the British film “Salmon fishing in Yemen”. Made in 2011, this romantic comedy-drama is directed by Lasse Hallström and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked.
The film is based on the novel with the same name by Paul Torday, which won the 2007 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing and was serialized on BBC Radio 4 in the UK. It also received the Waverton Good Read Award in 2008.
Screening movies in a country with no cinema culture is a rare event, and many Yemenis felt it was a unique and important opportunity to attend. Others went to watch or buy the cheap DVD copy of the film, not because of their interest in salmon fishing or British cinema, but mainly because the film has the word “Yemen” in the title.
According to a press release, the director of the British Council in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Adrian Chadwick, said that Yemen-UK cultural ties go back centuries and this important book and film continue the tradition of cultural exchange between the two countries. He added that in recent years, literature and film have been two of the most fruitful ways that the British Council has explored and tried to understand both Yemen and the UK’s cultures.
The story of the film is just as the film title describes it, Salmon fishing in Yemen, an unrealistic venture as this sport is not known to Yemenis and as the country’s waters lack the necessary natural conditions for Salmon to live in.
In any case, a wealthy Yemeni Sheikh has a vision of bringing the sport to the Yemeni desert at the same time that the British Prime Minister’s overzealous press secretary decides to support any “good will” story that stops the media from talking about the British casualties in the Middle East.
Although the Sheikh puts millions into the project the film shows how the people don’t appreciate his idea. It portraits Yemenis as savages who look at westerners as enemies; at the end they destroy the dam that the Sheikh built and try to kill him.
However, there is a sub-story in the film, which is the romance that grows between the two Brits who works on the project. The British Council noted that “the film is not really about Yemen at all,” describing it as “a love story combined with a commentary on politicians and the things that they do.”
They added that the film “has raised awareness of Yemen in the US, the UK and Europe in a largely positive way, reminding audiences that this country has great potential – though perhaps not in salmon fishing.”
But the Yemeni audience did not seem to share this view, claiming that it depicted Yemenis as violent people in some scenes, which strengthen the negative stereotype against the country.
“The comedy in the movie, generally, was targeting the western…audience so it might seem tasteless to some of the easterners especially those who are not familiar with such kind of humor,” said Abdalnasser Abdul, a Yemeni who watched the film. “I think Yemen has only the name out of that movie, it doesn’t by any mean talk about or represent the way Yemenis live.“
He added that one should acknowledge that it is a comedy movie and there could be scenes that could be “offending to some of us” but are not actually intended to be so. And in general he found the film “A little bit comforting too – overall it does not present Yemenis as terrorists, but more as normal people living their own way of life.”
Rabee Mohammed, another Yemeni who watched the film, said that “they failed in presenting Yemen completely, the film doesn’t reflect the Yemeni mentality nor the lifestyle or even their appearance.” He added that the film showed Yemenis as “idiots who deny the power or science if it comes from the west.”
He strongly thinks that the film will push away foreign investors from investing in Yemen as it shows Yemenis acting against development and investment projects.
“The film only leaves a negative impression about Yemen,” he said. “It stereotypes Yemenis as terrorist which is the stereotype Yemenis and Arabs suffered from in the foreign media, especially in Hollywood. But this time it is in the British media, which is a little bit different.”
But it wasn’t all negative; some viewers found the film to be one of the best they have seen when it comes to portraying Yemeni customs.
“It could be the foreign film that has come closest in featuring Yemeni customs, although it wasn’t all Yemeni style,” said Hanan Al-Areqi, a Yemeni student who watched the film.
Abdul disagreed with this idea: ”I didn’t like how the costumes that were supposed to represent the Yemeni people were generally not the actual Yemeni ones, but rather more of a Gulf kind of costume.”
Even the Arabic dialect that was spoken wasn’t Yemeni – one can easily tell it is Egyptian and the custom was rather Saudi and Omani than Yemeni. It seems that those who made the movie did not put much effort into correctly portraying Yemen to the audience, which in this case know little about Yemen and in some instances are convinced that Yemen is a country of terror. The question then is why the need to use the word Yemen in the film when there is no reason to?
Shatha Al-Harazi is a recipient of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award. She is a social media activist and a political and human rights journalist who writes regularly for Your Middle East. Shatha has reported from the front lines for a number of international news sources. She met face-to-face with ousted President Saleh in February 2011.
Last updated: September 29, 2012
The main coalitions at Change Square did not call for the protest, believing that ignoring the offense is the best Islamic response to the film, reports Shatha Al-Harazi, winner of Hillary Clinton’s Vital Voices Award.
50 US Marines were dispatched to Sana’a on “Mohammed the messenger of Allah” Friday, as a response to the violence that has gripped the Muslim world.
Nationwide protests accrued in Yemen provenances against the anti-Islam film “the Innocence of Muslims” that provoked Muslims to start anti-American demonstrations in many Arab and Muslim countries.
The protest in Sana’a demanded new laws that would respect all the prophets and apostles, not to offend them or the holy sites and create disincentives for both abuse towards the holy sites and to avert a rift between nations that embrace all religions.
The Friday lectures following prayers had different messages. Some were spreading the culture of violence to stop the “enemy” which is in this case the US, while others were calling for peace, reminding of prophet Mohammed’s behavior towards such insults.
On the second day in a row protesters demonstrated in front of the US embassy in Sana’a. Directly after the Friday prayer, people took off to the embassy from the al-Ferdos mosque. Around 2000 Houthis came to join the protest.
The security forces were now better prepared to stop the protesters from breaking into the embassy. Some people thought that this readiness should have been applied on Thursday instead, when four protesters were reported dead and almost 40 others injured by security forces. Tear gas and water cannons were used to spread the crowd.
According to the Ahrar al-Tagheer coalition one protester was shot by the Marines in Friday’s demonstrations.
On Thursday few had de facto seen parts of the 14 minutes video, but on Friday more people were motivated by curiosity to watch it. Before the Libyan and Egyptian protests, Yemenis were not even aware of its existence. They were busy by the defense minister’s assassination attempt that left seven dead on Wednesday.
The general reaction to the film among Yemenis is sympathy with those who protest and condemn it. But on the other hand the majority are against the violence.
The results of the protests were contradictory. Protesters demanded on the first day an apology by the US government, and escalated to demanding the expulsion of the ambassador. At the same time, President Abd Rabbu Mansuir Hadi apologized to the American government.
“Those who are behind are a mob that are not aware of the far-reaching plots of Zionist forces, especially those who made a film insulting the prophet,” said Hadi.
But for some Yemenis the US is the other face of “Zionist forces” in Yemen.
Hadi also warned that such acts could have a negative impact on what he called the good relationship between Yemen and the American people, according to the Yemeni News agency Saba.
However, political analyst Mohamed al-Sharabi said that these demonstrations will not change the Yemeni-American relationship, as it was not called for by the Yemeni government. In fact, it simply helped to justify the American troops’ presence in the country.
Furthermore, President Hadi has been a useful ally to the US administration in countering terrorism and fighting Al-Qeada. President Obama won’t endanger their relationship, especially this close to the upcoming presidential elections.
The military intervention in Yemen is what provokes Yemenis the most. Although the state department said that Washington has nothing to do with the film production, some protesters believe it was produced as a way of justifying American military presence in Yemen.
And the chant “Death to America” is not new in Yemen; it’s a popular slogan that children in school sometimes chant in protest during religious gatherings, or whenever there is an outcry against violence directed towards Palestine or Iraq.
In those same protests there is another popular chant, “O, Jews: Khaybar, Khaybar. The army of Mohammed will return,” referring to what happened in the year 629 in the west Arabian Peninsula when Mohammed and his followers defeated the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar.
The US is always seen as the strongest ally of Israel, therefore, these two chants are somehow interlinked in religious-related protests. In 2006, the chant became a slogan for the Shiite sect in Yemen, the Houthis, who used to be fought by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Neither the chants nor spreading banners by Houthis made Change Square much of a real provoking act to the American diplomats in Sana’a. However, since news of the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” broke out, the same chant became louder and this time posed a serious problem.
The protest that was first called by the Houthis leader on September 12 turned into something bigger. Many participated without knowing about the Houthis call, sensing it was a religious duty to join.
Reports say around 10,000 protesters marched to the American embassy on the first day. Although many reports described it as a spontaneous rally, Amran Ali, a member of al-Somod coalition, told You Middle East that the orders were clear from their leadership to break into the US embassy.
“These American have crossed all the lines, we wanted to kill any of them but unfortunately they left before we caught them,” he said.
A protester who wore jeans and t-shirt told Your Middle East that “Only protests that end with violence make headlines,” justifying the violence at the US embassy in Sana’a. “The Americans who think they rule the world, that they can kill us in our land and then insult our beloved prophet should realize that they are facing a nation of over 6 billion Muslims around the world.”
The Islah leader Abdulmajed al-Zandani, who is classified as a terrorist by the US, said in an interview with a local newspaper, “this is time for rage”.
Usually Houthis and Islah collide in sectarian conflicts that at one point escalated into a war, lasting for almost seven months in Haja and a year in Damaj. Yet, the hate for the US has united them.
“Today is not a day where we stop to think whether Houthi or Islah called for the protest and anger, the prophet doesn’t belong to one sect, his love unifies us, and if they thought they can differentiate us by sectarianism they should know by now how mistaken they are,” said a protester.
The main coalitions at Change Square did not call for the protest, believing that ignoring the offense is the best Islamic response to the film.
“We know that such a protest won’t end peacefully, people are driven by anger and we had previous information of the possibility for a riot,” said Adel Shamsan, the head of Change Square Media Center.
Other activists condemn the violence by both protesters and the security forces. Some even accused the ousted president’s thugs to be responsible for the violence since Saleh’s nephew remains at the head of the Central Security. President Hadi indicated that “the defection in the armed forces” was the reason behind the mob.
Videos by Change Square Media Center show the Central Security forces leaving their locations and joining the protest.
“One of the soldiers called on me to break into the embassy and destroy the cars, he even said if it was not for the security uniform I am wearing I would not stand watching,” said Shohdi al-Sofi, a protest photographer.
Change Square protesters condemned the mob saying that Yemen has embarked on a civic education since the 2011 revolution and the country is committed to peaceful means.
“We are not in favor of the US, especially after exposing the truth about the American drones role in killing so many civilians in Yemen,” said Ahmed al-Rufaidi from Change Square.
“But we lost over 2,000 lives in the Arab Spring by Saleh’s thugs and we kept being peaceful, it does not make sense that after almost 20 months we give that up.”
Shatha Al-Harazi is a recipient of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award. She is a social media activist and a political and human rights journalist. Shatha has reported from the front lines for a number of international news sources. She met face-to-face with ousted President Saleh in February 2011.
Upon her return to Yemen from the United States, where she was honored with the Vital Voices Global Trailblazer Award, noted journalist and youth activist Shatha al-Harazi addressed a crowd of pro-democracy protesters at Sana’a's Change Square.
Yemeni pro-democracy protester and noted journalist Shatha al-Harazi stands before photographers at Sana’a's Change Square, the heart of the capital city’s youth revolution.
Secretary of State Clinton answers a question raised by Yemeni journalist Shatha al-Harazi during a Global Town Hall with Civil Society in Washington DC, yesterday. Al-Harazi began her question by saying, “Yemenis Are Not Less Important Than Americans” and then she asked an important question about if there is any consideration from the US administration to fight terrorsim along with the assistance of civil society in Yemen. She also raised an extremely crucial issue that is the drone strikes in Yemen by the US.
Clinton’s answer is a very typical one that we always hear from the US administration folks. However, at least, it was remarkable to see a female Yemeni journalist like al-Harazi, who relatively represents civil society in Yemen, openly asking Clinton.
Watch the video here,