Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yemen’s Youth Coordinating Council writes President Obama

via Armies of Liberation,

The letter is also available on scribd and was sent to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the President of the European Union, John Bruton as well as President Obama.

17 March 2011

To: His Excellency Barak H. Obama, President of the United States of America

From: The Proud Youth of Yemen Fighting for Freedom, Liberty and the Pursuit of

Sub: The Ongoing Bloodshed in Yemen Against the Youth of Change Instigated by the
Autocratic Regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, His Kin and their Hired Thugs

Dear Excellency:

We implore you and the American people to look at Yemen with the eyes of a people, who share with the people of Yemen a common love for freedom, liberty and human rights and with a strong belief that the proponents of tyranny, repression and dictatorships have no place in a world created by God, Al-Mighty in which all men can live free and with dignity. We believe very strongly that you have a high regard for those people, who stand ready to give their lives so that their people can be free. We are also certain that had you been given a clearer picture of what the proud and peace loving Youth of Yemen are being subjected to by
the various official and covert organs of tyranny, authoritarian rule and repression that Ali Abdullah Saleh, the long standing President of the Republic of Yemen, albeit against the will of the Yemeni people, is using against peaceful protestors of Yemen throughout the country, you would not hesitate one moment to strive diligently to put an end to the ongoing massacre of the freedom loving youth in the streets of Sana’a, Aden, Ta’ez, Mukalla, Sa’ada, Ibb and every nook and cranny of the Republic of Yemen. We do not have any doubt that such bloodletting by the murdering thugs of Ali Abdullah Saleh could ever be agreeable to Your Excellency. On the contrary, please allow us to state in sincerity that your ascent to the Presidency of the United States was an inspirational stimulant for all lovers of freedom, not just in Yemen, but in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya as well, to struggle to bring an end to the awesome oppression, to which the people of these countries were being subjected for decades by their respective dictators and their lynch men.

In the Yemeni context, please note that the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh has over the past thirty – three years transformed the once free and independent revolutionary government of Yemen to a bloodthirsty oppressive dictatorship that killed the free and independent republic that Yemen represented before Ali Abdullah forcefully took over the reins of authority by the nozzles of tanks under his command a third of a century ago. Yes, Mr. President, the dictatorship of the Saleh regime had then taken over the proud achievement of thousands of our parents and ancestors, who struggled for generations to bring freedom and prosperity to
their people and to take Yemen out of the Dark Ages from successive tyrannical dynastic rule and imperialism to the Third Millennium.

You may come to wonder, who are we? What do we stand for? Finally, what are we striving for? In this letter, we hope to answer all these understandable questions with as much brevity and clarity as required to assure Your Excellency and the American people that we are a genuine peaceful democratic movement that represents a cross section of all the population of Yemen, regionally, ethnically, socially, economically and politically. We are not after any political ambitions. Simply put we represent the millions of Yemenis, North and South, East and West who see no recourse for Yemen except to bring about an immediate significant
change in Government topped off by the removal of the regime that has kept Ali Abudullah Saleh the uncontested ruler of Yemen for close to three and a half decades. Almost from the outset of our democratic protest, it became apparent that the Saleh regime is very fragile and has no structural and institutional basis for sustainability. You are of course aware that the Saleh regime is gradually collapsing and falling apart. Many of its very own icons are now leaving the regime and its official and partisan apparatus. This clearly indicates that the regime has not only lost the respect of the Yemeni people, en amsse, but even that of its very own senior officials and party management, who were regarded as icons of the regime.

The very civilized protest you and the world are seeing unfold in Yemen is not a fly by night effort that is like the gathering of the so called “loyalists” of the regime that are shepherded from time to time by the security organs of the oppressive Saleh regime and then illegitimately paid for at the expense of the public funds owned by the people of Yemen. We are the loud voice of a silent majority of millions of Yemenis, who have taken to the street and which you are seeing daily holding our grounds in several protest vigils camped throughout the cities, towns and habitats of Yemen all of whom are yearning for freedom, justice and political and civic rights. As you can see our movement is made of every facit of Yemeni society: old, young, rich, poor, middle class, tribal, cosmopolitan and rural, all calling for the very same thing you called for when you undertook the quest for the Presidency of the United States: CHANGE. Our demands are legitimate, genuine and attainable as long as our Yemeni people continue to gather with us from all walks of life and demanding that they be counted among those who are completely fed up with the status quo and the daunting aura of subjugation under which they have been forced to live under all for two generations of the proud and freedom loving people of Yemen.

Your Excellency, do not be fooled by the fabricated image of Saleh and his clique as your best bets against terrorism. It is Saleh, who brought terrorism into Yemen, from the very early days of the Saleh regime. He funded the various manifestations of the terrorist organs over the last three decades, including the Al-Qaeda genre and he made Yemen a literal training camp for recruits of terrorist organizations and the staging point for many monumental terrorist acts. These mind you, include the Attack on the US Navy destroyer, the USS Cole. Do not be fooled by the fake scenarios of “terrorist” activity that are displayed by the regime to give credence to their stance against terrorism. Even if such acts are directed against minor offices of the regime or low level officers, Saleh and his terrorist mentors operate by the cardinal rule of all terror minded organizations: “the ends justify the means”. We can give you a long list of terrorist activities, which may be labeled as “official terrorism”, much of which are disguised by covert or clandestine organs of the regime and
funded by the Yemeni State Treasury and sometimes deceived foreign states. We suffice with bringing to your attention that the Saleh regime has turned the South of the country into a torture chamber of our fellow Yemenis in Aden, Abyan, Hadhramaut, Shabwa, etc, because the people of the southern part of the country were protesting the undue deprivation suffered by our southern fellow Yemenis of their rights and the hoarding of the assets and resources of the South by the members of the Saleh family and their cheap cronies, who have betrayed their fellow countrymen and worked to safeguard and implant the repression of the regime
throughout the Republic of Yemen. Then there was the costly Sa’ada War, which was no more than a lucrative business enterprise for war merchants and warlords who are cardinal element of the Saleh regime, whether as senior officials within the regime, or as indirect stakeholders along with the informal mafia of corrupt mobsters that are part and parcel of the Saleh regime. In addition to the thousands of death, wounded and disabled that attest horribly to the horrendous thirst for blood the Saleh regime thrives on, the Six Wars of Sa’ada have also rendered 400,000 of our fellow Yemenis in Sa’ada, Amran and other northern governorates displaced and indefinitely homeless, many of who now are living without the least requirements for subsistence, let alone for dignified lives.

Mr. President, those were some of the past great achievements of the Saleh regime, many of which are still ongoing escapades of the dreaded Saleh regime. However, you should also be made aware that all these wars and violent adventures of our President and his cronies, who thrive on conflict, have brought government in Yemen to a standstill. The Government of Yemen has not undertaken and is not undertaking any of the meaningful tasks expected of Government, in terms of providing services to the Yemeni people and distributing development throughout the country. On the contrary the Saleh regime has killed the development achievements that were realized in the earlier days of post revolutionary Yemen, including the very effective and democratic Cooperative Development Movement and also killed the sound governance applications that prevailed in the southern governorates, before the totalitarianism and corruption of the Saleh regime in the North was made the rule,
rather than the exception throughout Yemen after unification. The horrendous corruption of the Saleh regime has allowed nepotism and favoritism to prevail over equal opportunity and equal access to the resources of the country, thus concentrating all wealth and income within less than 1% of the population and sending more than half of the population of Yemen to poverty and subsistence below the poverty line of US $ 2 a day.

To further enlighten Your Excellency, please allow us to clarify some aspects of the current situation, to give you an indication of the obvious hopelessness of achieving any meaningful results with continued dialogue with the regime, as your Administration strongly and perhaps unknowingly now calls for. First of all, as the Youth Movement for Change in Yemen, we are the most astute champions of peace and would love nothing more than to pursue our quests for freedom and human and civil rights through peaceful means. Therefore, had we seen any sincerity in the deceiving gestures of the President for “dialogue”, we would not have hesitated one moment to engage the regime in meaningful discussions to map a proper future for Yemen. But, please allow us to tell you that for thirty-three years, genuine political leaders and civic personalities, as well as civil society organizations have sat with Saleh and many of his representatives and reached what were even then regarded as historic agreements. These accords were praised by not only most Yemenis, but throughout the world as exemplary solutions to unresolved complicated political and social issues. Yet these agreements, from the Unification Agreement (1989 – 1990) to the Pact of Agreement and Accord (1994) and the countless talks held between the regime and opposition forces, since the dreaded War of 1994, which was planned and executed not so much to safeguard the unity of Yemen, but really to give the Saleh regime uncontested control of authority and resources throughout Yemen, were thrown out the window. Had the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh been sincere in engaging in dialogue throughout the many negotiations held with the
regime throughout all these years, all these costly and bloody conflicts waged by the regime against its very own subjects would not have flared up. In fact, the Yemeni people have come to recognize over and over again that the Saleh regime engages in dialogue to buy time while the repressive organs of the regime and informal thugs do their homework to eventually suppress the very elements Saleh was supposedly having a dialogue with.

The Obama Administration should seek to come to grips with the tragic reality that the Saleh regime is no longer acceptable to the Yemeni people. The fact that our parents and families have, for the first time became willing to sacrifice their children’s and family providers’ lives and physical well being in an inequitable confrontation with the tyrannical regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh is testimony to the overall contention now held by all the Yemeni people that there is not one grain of hope that can be exacted from this regime and that it is really about time in Yemen that the will of the people shall prevail above all narrow minded interests and the selfish enterprises of the Saleh regime.

Surely, the freedom loving American people can see the justice of our struggle and the cause we stand for, and the President of the United States, can understand that all that the millions of Youth of Change throughout Yemen are asking of this world is to acknowledge that the blood of hundreds of fatalities and thousands of wounded now indiscriminately being spilt by the most inhumane tools of repression used against armless peaceful protests should not have gone in vain.

What do the Youth of Yemen stand for?

Mr. President, after having shown you our genuine sincere aspirations in general, please allow us to highlight some of the practical ramifications of our peaceful protest, which are merely a tentative proposal to be finally agreed to by all serious minded factions in Yemen’s socio-economic-political framework. I am sure you will agree that these are indeed pragmatic, feasible and altogether not difficult to attain, with a little bit of hard work and serious effort of all concerned, God willing:

1) The immediate removal of Ali Abdullah Saleh from the Presidency of the Republic of Yemen, a post he has held continuously for the past thirty three years.
2) The dismissal of all the members of the Al-Ahmar family (Ali Abdullah Saleh and his immediate brothers, offspring, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and close kin) from all positions of military and security command and senior civil administrative positions, with immediate effect.
3) The designation of a Temporary Council to act as a Provisional Government to carry on the day to day functions of Government pending:

a) The drafting of a new Constitution for the Republic of Yemen, to incorporate some of the positive elements of many of the past documents of previous dialogues, and more importantly to include an enforceable balance of authority and separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of Government. This can be done by a panel of knowledgeable experts chosen by all the legitimate political factions, individuals and civil society organizations, who are known for their sincerity and national patriotism. The panel shall have an agreed upon deadline not to exceed six months. The Constitution is to be put to a national referendum, including Yemenis overseas to be overseen by selected members of the Youth Movement and the serious factions in the Yemeni political arena that have demonstrated a sincere desire for political and social reforms that answer to the desires and aspirations of the Yemeni people.

b) The issuance of an Elections Law that takes in all the elements of democratic practice and conduct set out in the drafted Constitution

c) The follow – up and retrieval of all the public funds and assets acquired by the President, his kin and all the cronies that worked diligently to safeguard the longevity of the Saleh regime, or to impose the agenda of the regime by official or covert means and with possession of demonstrated net worth that was obtained by
extraordinary means. This includes local assets and foreign assets in their names or under disguised names of relatives or corporate entities.

d) The arrangement of Parliamentary, Local Council and Presidential Elections to be held freely and in stages as arranged herein, to ensure that the Executive Branch shall not have the ability to influence the elections of the other centers of authority. There should be a 2 month interval between each election. The Provisional Government shall consist of an agreed number of say (this is temporary of course subject to later agreement)12 people known for their honesty, integrity and patriotism as well as expertise and experience. The Twelve members shall be divided into three Four Task Teams, as follows:

a) Three to be responsible for supervising the drafting of: i) the Constitution by a Special Constitutional Panel (details to be worked out later); and ii) the Temporary Elections Law, which should also map out the selection of voting districts in a fair and equitable manner also by a special panel of law and elections experts.

b) Three to oversee the follow up on all public assets funneled illegally and fraudulently transferred to members of the Saleh Family and their close of kin and cronies . They should be assisted by a team of expert lawyers, from the domestic and the international sphere.

c) Three to oversee the overhaul of the military and security organs to institutions that are tightly controlled and operate under civilian command of a Minister of Defense and close oversight eventually by a Parliamentary Committee that will have power over deciding on appointments of leading military command
positions, supervision of budget allocations for the military and security. While it is noted that security is to be under the guidance of a national security policy, with respect to issues of national or home security, eventually there should be a transfer of local security to local police units (under local government authority) geared for fighting crime and maintaining civil order under strict constitutional guidelines that protect human rights and ensure that security organs do not serve political ends beyond certain aspects of national security and safeguarding sovereignty.

d) Three to oversee the day to day operations of Government until a new Government is put in place, even if a temporary Government is designated under their supervision based on streamlined functional roles (Defense, Health, Civil  Service, Development, etc.). Members can be from existing known ministers for
their integrity and professional acumen.

Each of the task teams outlined above is to be headed by a Chairman elected by the three members of Each Task Team and these Chairmen will elect one of them to become the provisional Head of the Provisional Council and act as the provisional defacto Head of State until the Election of a President.

There is also the possibility that the Constitution will insist on a Parliamentary form of Government, in which case a President may be elected to take on ceremonial and functional roles as the Head of State, but with controlled limited Executive powers.

4) The transfer of authority from the Provisional Council to the Functioning Elected Government (under a President or a Prime Minister) after all the steps above have been completed.

So, you see Mr. President, what we, the Youth of Yemen are calling for are not sensational demands that are the result of spontaneous and sentimental urges, but real concrete pragmatic steps and procedures that will truly bring a genuine and meaningful transformation to good governance and the rule of law, which will have, foremost of all, the best interests of the Yemeni people at large, under clearly laid out guaranteed rights and duties that translate into justice and equality of all citizens and afford equal opportunity to all citizens as should be expected within the social contract.

This is our preliminary perspective of how we expect the modus operandi of change and reforms to be instituted. Surely this is going to be with a view towards achieving consensus among all political stakeholders and the tacit approval of the Yemeni people at large of such steps, with the positive support of the international community, to be solicited and acknowledged without fail. We are of course prepared to discuss other alternative procedures, but the key is to ensure that all the objectives of our just and legitimate struggle are realized, with effect sooner than later.

We look forward to the recognition of the people of the United States of our universally recognized right of peaceful protest and to the acknowledgment by your Honorable Administration of the legitimacy and righteousness of our sincere aspirations for the Yemeni people. We also look forward to your personal efforts by all endeavors to put an end to the ongoing bloodbath being unleashed by Ali Abdullah Saleh, his relatives and their hired thugs against the only hope left for a free and democratic Yemen, namely its brave and steadfast freedom loving youth from Sa’ada to Al-Mahara.

May God bless the people of the United States and the people of Yemen.

Respectfully yours,

The Youth of Peaceful and Democratic Change in Yemen

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