Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Yemen’s Youth Coordinating Council writes President Obama

Filed under: Yemen, protest statements — by Jane Novak at 5:24 pm on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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
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 de
facto 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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