Yemen’s Houthis, Southern Separtists Critical of Federation Plan

Photo Credit: Oman Daily Observer

Yemen’s Northern Shi’a rebels and factions seeking southern autonomy rejected the six-region federation plan that was approved by a panel headed by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi on Monday. The plan divides Yemen into four northern (Azal, Saba, Janad and Tahama) and two southern regions (Aden and Hadramawt). The Shi’a rebels claim that this division unevenly distributes wealth, and Mohammed al-Bakheiti of the rebel group Ansarullah claimed, “we have rejected it because it divides Yemen into poor and wealthy.” This group’s stronghold is located in the Azal region which also includes Sanaa, Amran, and Dhamar, and “has no significant natural resources or access to sea.” Mohammed Ali Ahmed, head of the People’s Congress of the South, said, “our position is clear…We reject these decisions because they do not meet the aspirations [of self-determination and a sovereign state] of our people in the south.”

The National published an editorial, which states that despite these rejections, “the proposal remains the best hope to save the nation from an escalation of sectarian violence.” This article also claims that this plan “demonstrates that federalism – a concept often regarded as divisive in the Arab world – can work within the existing borders drawn up 100 years ago by colonial powers.” It noted the possibility for Yemen’s system to serve as a model in places such as Iraq and Syria. Citing the role of external players, such as the UAE and United States, the article says, “with good will internally and the support of its neighbors, Yemen can proceed along a path to unity, stability and prosperity,” but that the “federation proposal must be enshrined in a new constitution before elections can be held.”