November 20, 2011

Yemenis Persevere Under International Siege

Mimicking the troops they’ve trained and equipped, foreign powers are leading an unflinching assault against Yemen’s 11-month revolution. Silence is their first line of defense. When Ali Abdullah Saleh’s brutality triggered a wave of defections and forced his international allies to devise an exit strategy, the Saudi-bankrolled Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) introduced a biased proposal at the direction of Washington. The GCC’s initiative is constructed to keep Saleh personally in power, or else salvage his regime by creating a “unity” government led by his vice president, Abd al-Rahman Mansur al-Hadi.

Veto-wielding members then summoned the UN Security Council to unanimously stamp the GCC’s initiative in October - nearly eight months after the proposal was introduced.

The month since resolution 2014 was forced onto Yemen’s revolutionaries unfolded no differently than the previous 10. Saleh sporadically vows to sign the GCC’s initiative while his security forces relentlessly attack peaceful protesters. Armed oppositional elements are quickly blamed for Yemen’s unrest and delaying the GCC’s implementation. Western officials ignore rising casualties and warnings by Yemen’s pro-democracy movement. Now, after several days of rumors, special UN envoy Jamal Benomar confirmed that Monday’s UNSC meeting has been postponed at Saleh’s request.

"We have met with representatives of Saleh's ruling party, including Hadi upon the request of visiting UN envoy who is running the talks,” oppositional spokesman Mohamed Qahtan told reporters, “but no progress or no compromise was achieved as Saleh still sticks to his conditions and refuses to transfer power peacefully.”

The international community has devoted its energy towards isolating Yemen’s revolutionaries, not Saleh’s regime, throughout 11 months of protests. Falling deep into Saleh’s plot, Benomar has little choice except to pursue the orders of major powers such as the US, UK, China and Russia. However the envoy still deserves personal responsibility for defending the UN’s actions and engaging in disinformation with Yemen’s protesters. Benomar told several youth groups that no immunity would be given to Saleh’s regime, but no attempts have been made to clarify the GCC intiative’s status within UN resolution 2014.

Western and Gulf officials simply insist that he agree to both documents.

Delaying resolution 2014’s mandated 30-day review demonstrates how much power Saleh retains with his international allies. Contrary to applying pressure, foreign powers have built a political shield around his regime and continue to follow his meandering lead. The European Union similarly postponed its “discussion” over Saleh’s assets until December at the earliest, fully exposing this maneuver as a scam to approve the GCC’s initiative. Attempting to preempt these artificial deadlines and skip the threat of punishment entirely, Western and Gulf diplomats are sprinting to orchestrate a favorable power transfer - again hinting at a signing by next week.

One Western diplomat in Sana’a told the AFP that U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein “presented a new proposal to move forward with the implementation mechanism.” Feierstein has cooperated with Saleh’s regime throughout the revolution, earning widespread distrust, and whatever his “new proposal” entails won’t benefit Yemen’s revolutionaries. The Western-Gulf vision in Yemen sees no room for revolutionaries: “Western mediators want to clinch a deal between Yemen's key players - Saleh and his son Ahmed, who commands the elite Republican Guard, and General Ahmar and Hamid al-Ahmar.”

Although Saleh’s regime and the opposition must be removed from the revolutionary equation, foreign powers are primarily interested in working with these forces to manipulate Yemen’s transition.

It bears constant repeating that Yemen isn’t an official member of the GCC, a formality that necessitates the UN’s approval. As foreign governments and media obsess over the GCC’s illegitimate proposal, revolutionaries have initiated a new Twitter campaign called #No2GCCdeal with the hope of building on #ShameonRueters. Meanwhile Western and Gulf powers intend to sign the GCC’s unpopular deal in Riyadh to avoid domestic disruptions, a precaution that targets Yemen’s protesters rather than the duplicitous Saleh.

Various dignitaries can keep their suits and robes clean in an air-conditioned skyscraper, and plug their ears to millions of Yemenis in the process.

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