Aden military coup!


WHAT happened in Aden, last week, has revived the terrible memories of the past. The Houthi militias entered Sanaa four years ago to demonstrate against a “corrupt, incompetent government,” then went on to occupy state, security and army facilities, forming a new cabinet. They eventually imprisoned the president, prime minister and all ministers and took over the whole regime.

The same scenario was running its course in Aden, last week. The separatists started with “peaceful” demonstration in the temporary capital, and then overtook the whole city by force. They called in loyal armed forces from the fronts to support their occupation of the town, seizure of airport and ports, and siege of the presidential compound. As a result, liberated regions allowed easy access to the Houthis, Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

The timing is suspect. As the national army with the support of the Arab Alliance is advancing on all fronts and achieving breakthroughs at the western coast — Taiz and Saada — come such distractions, weakening the national front.

Weird enough, those who demand separation are the same who gave the South to the North in 1990. When they realized their mistake, they fought in 1994 to break out of the union. It was too late. By then, the world had recognized the unified state “The Arab Republic of Yemen.”

The separatists lost that war and their leaders fled first to Oman, then to Beirut under the wings of Iran and protection of its agent Hezbollah. From there, they broadcast a TV channel, direct their separatist movement and run their communist party. This is the same party that destroyed the country and devastated its sophisticated capital Aden during their fascist three-decades’ rule, before delivering it into a hastily patched unification, under the patronage of late Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein. The goal was to join Iraq on its quest to invade the Gulf region, later that year.

I might be wrong on judging motivations, but timing and circumstances of the latest coup don’t help. All the movement’s historical complaints and latest demands were discussed during the Yemeni National Dialogue 2013-2014. The participants, including the Houthis and separatists, agreed on a new confederate system that would give the south a full self-rule with its own prime minister, cabinet and parliament, based in its own capital, Aden.

If all that was not enough, they could do what the Southern Sudanese did after five years of self-rule — voting under UN supervision for a separate state. However, before Arab Southerners take that road they should prepare well. They must build organizational infrastructure, and well train leaders, human resources and security forces. That is the right way if they don’t wish to end up being a failed state like South Sudan.

Jumping to the seat of power, over a tank, waving the communist flag, without a mandate from the people, won’t be approved by neighbors, Arab, Muslim and world community.

Gone are the days of military coups. The Arab people suffered like no others. In the 1950s and 1960s officers like Naser, Qaddafi, Assad, Saddam and Ali Saleh turned their nations into mega prisons and family fiefdoms. So was the case in the Arab South, when the Reds put that Muslim nation under the hegemony of the Soviet Union. Those who support similar coup, today, either didn’t learn from history, or wish to repeat it. The former will soon regret it, and the latter won’t live to see it.

The Southern Separatists should accept the UN, Arab Alliance and world community’s invitation to calm down the situation in Aden. All issues and differences can be discussed with the government. Their legitimate demands should be accommodated. Constitutional issues can wait until the Houthis are defeated and Iran’s project in Yemen is dismantled. Their forces must join the fronts to speed up such conclusion. Once Yemen is liberated, all must go back to write down the agreed constitution, as was supposed to before the Houthis rebelled.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who led the campaign to save Yemen —starting with the liberation of the South — deserve Southerners’ gratitude. To show their appreciation, they must join the fight to defeat the Iran-supported forces, threatening Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf.

It doesn’t fit the faithful people of the South to stab the Alliance in the back at this critical moment, instead of joining the fight. They also must appreciate that the security of Aden, Hadramout and Al-Mahra is a natural extension of the security of the Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea and the Gulf region. We live together, or die together, as King Fahd once declared when Kuwait was invaded. This is our “Arabian” destiny!

— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi