By Nadia al-Kokabany, a writer and a professor of architecture at the University of Sana. This article was translated by Nathaniel A. Miller from the Arabic (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 07/06/11):
The shelling of Yemen’s presidential palace last Friday represented the end of the road for President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a decisive conclusion he had never expected, or even considered, when the youth revolt erupted four months ago.
Yemen’s tribal society, its problems with Al Qaeda, its struggle with separatist movements, and its rate of gun ownership, one of the world’s highest, should have led him to react cautiously — and to realize that the people, having taken to the streets to demand freedom and dignity, would not return home until they achieved victory.
Instead, Mr. Saleh resorted to sowing division among the Yemeni people. After realizing he could not suppress the rebellion, he found a pretext for taking up arms. He carried out attacks against the Hashid tribe, provoking widespread resentment and anger for senselessly spilling blood. He then tried to drag Yemen into a civil war by putting snipers on the roofs of buildings, killing many people and terrifying everyone else. He surrendered the southern city of Zinjibar to Al Qaeda. He cracked down hard in Taiz, where the uprising began. Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded, just to show the world what happens when the people stage sit-ins. Yet the demonstrators remained peaceful.
Yemenis awoke on Sunday to news of Mr. Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. They are desperately hoping he has left for good. They raised Yemeni flags, sang and celebrated their victory. Already, some southern separatists have relinquished their demands for secession, and rebels in the restive northern province of Saada have declared their support for the revolution and opposition to all forms of violence.
Yemeni women joined their husbands and sons during the protests, after realizing that Mr. Saleh’s government was incapable of anything but bleeding the country dry and exploiting its resources for the benefit of a tiny minority, leaving the rest in grinding poverty. They are now celebrating his departure as a moment that will usher in a new era. Yemeni women want to be equals, participating fully in the life of a nation that provides them and their children with education, health care and a dignified standard of living — not to be evaluated based on their appearance, and seen as sitting around, taking up space.
It will be difficult for Yemenis to repair what the Saleh regime has destroyed. But we will survive this ordeal, because the youth, political parties and many in the military realize that sacrifices will be necessary in the months to come, and that these sacrifices will be the basis for forging a modern Yemen built on the principles of citizenship and equal rights for all.
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona