AIYS and YCSR Conference on National Dialogue

The Outcomes of the National Dialogu​e: The Risk of Failure and the Horizon of Implementation
by Dr. Salwa Dammaj , Resident Director of AIYS
The American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS) in Sana’a organized, in collaboration with the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research (YCSR), a seminar themed: The Outcomes of the National Dialogue: The Risk of Failure and the Horizon of Implementation. The function was held on September 2, 2014, in the headquarters of the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research (YCSR) in the capital Sana’a.
As Resident Director of the (AIYS), I gave an introduction in which I said: “Firstly, I would like to express thanks and gratitude to Yemen’s great poet and outstanding national and intellectual figure Dr Abdul-Aziz al-Magaleh, the chairman of the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research who always has been a genuine supporter of the (AIYS) activities; thanks also goes to the staff and management of the (YCSR). I would like also to convey to you the greetings of the president at AIYS, Prof. Daniel Martin Varisco.
I continued, saying that this seminar is being held amid a very critical crisis while the country has been experiencing serious complexities and acute variations among the different political forces and social constituencies. It is an alarming dilemma that embodies existential threats which have seriously destabilized Yemen and have grave impacts on Yemeni peoples. Likewise it highlights the pressing need to invoke immediately the National Dialogue’s outcomes.

I described the Final Document of the National Dialogue as a significant consensual compromise approved by the different political and social constituencies, arguing that those outcomes are still a common ground for the political forces which—some of them—have been involved in violent conflicts. I suggested that the objective assessment of the National Document requires proper understanding of the complexities of the Yemeni political and social reality. It is vitally important to realize the urgent need of a consensual document that is applicable and closely relevant to the present values and that satisfies the vast majority of the peoples’ aspirations.

I continued to say that we should not overlook the significant fact that the most important thing is to have political will and competent institutions that can turn the consensual document into tangible reality on the ground, starting by drafting the constitution, holding elections and reforming the institutions. This may be the only available way for Yemen to get rid of the serious predicaments it has been beleaguered by.
AIYS is accurately aware of the importance of the National Dialogue conference’s outcomes. It also recognizes the importance to further enrich the national dialogue document by more discussions and re-drawing Yemenis’ attention to this consensual document. This is a much better option than to yield to violence options. To help in this, AIYS organized this seminar as part of its activities.
Dr Abdul-Aziz al-Magaleh, the chairman of the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research, introduced the seminar with a short speech in which he indicated that by organizing this seminar in cooperation with AIYS, YCSR has resumed its activities which had ceased over the past period.  The seminar began with a lecture delivered by Dr. Abdulwarith Ana’am, a senior researcher at YCSR.  He cited a number of challenges that are seriously risking the outcomes of the national dialogue. Most important of all are:
• Lacking an effective government and official institutions,
• Obstructing the military restructuring process, since without a united military and security institutions, the government can’t enforce the rule of law and take control over the entire territories of the country.  As a result, terrorist militants have continued to disturb the nation’s security, distract the government’s attention, and destroy the country’s economic limited resources, further exacerbating the economic, security and social problems.
• The old-traditional political elites have continued to act against the political transition process.
• The regional interference in Yemen’s internal affairs. The lecturer repeatedly blamed Saudi Arabia for thwarting the project of establishing the state of institutions in Yemen.
• The seminar included much debate by the participants who emphatically emphasized the importance of the National Dialogue’s outcomes.
The well known political researcher and writer Qadiri Ahmed Haider highly praised the National Dialogue, describing its outcomes as a roadmap for Yemen to move forward. He argued that the former regime has never really departed from the scene because Yemenis have opted for a reconciliatory manner instead of a revolutionary one to seek radical political change. Therefore, the former regime has been degenerately seeking to spoil the political transition and obstruct the implementation of the national dialogue outcomes.
Dr. Ma’an Dammag, an assistant professor of Philosophy at Sana’a University, suggests that the increasingly growing counterrevolution in Arab world, including Yemen, can pose a formidable challenge to the political settlement and transition, including obstructing the implementation of the national dialogue outcomes. To support his argument, Dr. Maan cited the recent escalation by the Houthi group and the General Peoples Congress as an example of the counterrevolution. The recent developments in the regional arena have something to do with the ongoing tensions in Yemen, he argued.
For media coverage of the conference, see the following: