Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

The Dictator Returns Home


The Dictator Returns Home

To prove to totalitarian regimes that no autocratic systems will last long, on itself, is a victory for the millions of people who have been marching the streets in the Arab world since the beginning of this year. The protests, however, have led to greatly successful outcomes, could promote the idea that no undemocratic force can resist against public determination forever.

The totalitarian regimes will inevitably fall down if people get enough political awareness, possess adequate determination to practice their citizenship rights and adopt appropriate mechanisms to fight authoritarianism.

Taking a glimpse at the historic annals, one can clearly see how significant the public participation is to develop and expand democratic values and egalitarian approaches. The governing systems that try to deny the citizens their basic civil and political rights do usually rely on violent means to strictly monitor every single aspect of public life.

The year 2011 began with a series of highly significant changes in international system. Democracy-driven public moves led to change in regimes in some countries and democratic reforms in some others. Pro-democracy movements spread across Arab countries and are still progressively threatening certain longtime ruling figures and dynasties.

Revolutionaries in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya paid huge sacrifices to topple down longtime autocracies and plant democracy. Syria and Yemen remains at the forefront of Arab spring events. Both countries are going through their most unstable days in the recent decades. Protestors in the two countries say it is time for Assad and Saleh to be unseated. Yemeni angry citizens launched nationwide demonstrations in late January to unseat Saleh, in power for the past three decades.

Public protests, along with Al Qaeda operations, have extremely exhausted Abdullah Saleh government, the decades-running totalitarian regime. Denying handing over power to his successor or opposition earlier than the country's forthcoming elections, Saleh government is fiercely attacking protestors. International pressure mounted on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to withdraw following Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members sought to mediate a deal with the opposition.

Recent reports said that clashes rocked the Yemeni capital on Saturday after 37 people were killed in 24 hours despite calls by President Ali Abdullah Saleh for peace after his return from Riyadh. Republican Guard troops, commanded by Saleh's son Ahmed, have been locked in a week of deadly battles with dissident soldiers from the First Armoured Brigade headed by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who have since March protected anti-regime protesters camped out on Sanaa's Change Square.

Resisting against Yemeni public demands, Saleh was seriously injured and burnt by a rebellion attack on his palace in Sanaa some three months ago. Following his trip to Saudi Arabia, Yemeni protestors voiced happiness over his departure.

However, he seems too defiant to leave power peacefully. After months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, Yemeni leader returned home amid fierce battles in the country. He returned to Sanaa on Friday, even as his forces were battling dissident troops in the capital.

His return came as his forces were early Friday fighting dissidents loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in Sanaa for a sixth straight day, with almost 100 people killed last week. Both sides are backed by rival tribesmen, with witnesses saying the fighting on Friday was concentrated in the capital's northern Al-Hasaba district.

Al-Hasaba on Thursday became the theatre of bloody clashes between gunmen loyal to powerful dissident tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar and followers of Saghir bin Aziz, a tribesman allied to Saleh. The bloodletting in the Yemeni capital has stalled a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative that would see Saleh stepping down and handing over all constitutional authorities to his deputy.

On the other hand, army dissidents who support the Yemeni revolution viewed Saleh's return as a prelude to civil war and predicted that chaos will prevail in the country. "The series of bombings and clashes that took place Friday and Saturday attest to the fact that he is back with the intention of destroying our country and dividing our people," they said in a statement.

The statement added that despite all efforts by the president to wreak havoc in the country, protestors will insist on keeping their revolution peaceful. An influential dissident general, whose forces control many parts of the capital, warned that Mr Saleh was propelling the country towards civil war and urged the United States, Yemen's Persian Gulf neighbours and the international community to stop him.

General Mohsen called Mr Saleh ''ignorant and bloodthirsty'' and likened him to the Roman emperor Nero, burning down his own city. ''With his return, Yemen is experiencing sweeping chaos, and the harbingers of a crushing civil war which this ignorant man is determined to ignite,'' he said in the statement.

He urged the international community to ''deter him, stop his irresponsible actions where he intends to ignite a civil war that would bring down the whole country and have repercussions on the whole region and on world peace''.

In a new call upon Saleh, Gulf monarchies urged Yemen's president to "immediately" sign a power transfer plan ending his country's political turmoil in which 130 people have been killed in a week, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states "affirm their commitment to help their brothers in Yemen to reach an agreement for the immediate implementation of the Gulf Initiative", they announced at a meeting in New York Friday on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.

The six GCC states want to see President Ali Abdullah Saleh "immediately sign the initiative and ensure a peaceful transition of power... to meet his people's aspirations for change and reform", SPA said. Yemen's wealthy Gulf neighbors have been trying for months to persuade Saleh to accept a plan under which he would transfer power in return for a promise of immunity from prosecution.

Like other demonstration-hit regimes, the government in Yemen is relying on police and military, pro-government propaganda and intimidation to beat back protesters. But the death toll and the frustrations are growing.

To restrain the likely horrible consequences of the spreading demonstrations and regime changes, the US, EU and some regional countries, at first, approached them circumspectly but gradually increased pressures to help Yemeni citizens to unseat the dictator. The international community has, to a great extent, announced their support for democratic demands in Yemen.

In the most recent statement, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton supported the GCC initiative for Yemen. The statement said, "The High Representative adds her voice to those of the GCC as expressed in the statement of the GCC Ministerial Council of 23 September. She repeats the calls for President Saleh to meet his commitment to transfer power and sign the GCC initiative". However, their struggles have proved ineffective so far.

In any event, public protests in a wide array of Middle East (M.E.) countries imply the universal fact that freedom is the most substantial component in everyone's individual and social life. They seek freedom by any possible means they get. As demonstrated in recent public victories against dictators in the Arab world, this bottom-up pressure holds the potential to bring about public triumphs and topple down the dictatorial bodies.

Even though the expanding democratic movements, in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, have encountered fierce resistance by government forces, one thing is clear that determined people can overcome challenges against their civil and political rights. Public participation, possibly with nonviolent approaches, can ultimately overwhelm the autocratic restrictions by tyrannical regimes.

Nasruddin Memati is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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