Ali Abdullah Saalih finally signed an agreement to step down before his appointed term is up, in order that elections can be held in a few months, insh’Allaah. Some people are lauding this as the end of the protests and unrest in Yemen, but I find it difficult to believe this one step will bring anything like peace and normalcy to the country in the near future.
First of all, just looking at the example already set by Egypt- their revolution was supposedly over months ago, and yet this week there have been mass protests and over forty people killed already. One reads regularly in the papers about the splits between factions and acts of violence perpetrated due to religious or other differences. Clearly, the “revolution” is not over there, and Egypt in general is a much wealthier and more stable country than Yemen is.
Secondly, there are the many factions involved in this revolution. There are the “peaceful” protesters- those middle and upper class youth who took to Tahrir with their iphones and laptops- and within this group there are many ideologies and ideas, many of which are in conflict with each other. Then there is the army general who broke away from the main army- he is responsible for much of the bloodshed that has occurred in Sana’a, in the Hasaba district and other than it. He has been advocating an armed revolt from the start. Then there is the Muslim Brotherhood and the people like them, and the communists, and the socialists- the groups are many, and the ideologies and ideas for the country diverse.
Thirdly, the country has a major split between North and South. The South, where we live, has been relatively calm through much of this revolution. This is because their cause, and their fight, is not the same as that of the other protesters- their desire is simple and clear. They want to return to being a separate entity from the North of Yemen. When the protesters in Sana’a were chanting “Down with Saalih” type slogans, the marchers here chanted “ash-shabab yureed tahreer al-junoob”; the people want freedom for the South. Businesses owned by transplanted Northerners were vandalized and even burned to the ground more than once. Their hatred of the North is even seen in their name for the large horseflies that have recently been plaguing the village- they call them “Shimali”- Northern flies.
Fourth, is the situation that we see manifest in the blockade of Damaaj. This is a split from the central government that is both religious and political. The Houthis and other tribes involved are Shi’ites, and desire to have their northern territory be under Shi’i rule. They have a leader they have already put forth. Mujaahid told me that a person who used to be in the Yemeni secret service came to the Sheikh of the center and told him, “Now there are three Yemens- this section is under the rule of Ali Muhsin, the middle with rule of Sana’a, and the South.”
Very clearly stated, and not indicative of peace and harmony- especially since the Houthis are reported to receive arms and monetary assistance from Iran.
So, it is difficult to say what effect the president’s removal will have on the blockade, and the future of Damaaj as a center of learning in general. As for now, the blockade goes on, mash’Allaah, and the humanitarian aid trucks are not being let through. Negotiations are ongoing, as they have been throughout. Mujaahid and his family are in good spirits despite everything, alhamdulillah, and all of us are doing what we can to support them and offer assistance. Insh’Allaah this injustice will soon be removed.
Until then, we wait, and we pray.
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