H. E. Barak H. Obama, President of the United States
The White House
4 July 2011
Dear Mr. President
On the occasion of the most important holiday of the United States of America, please allow us to send to Your Excellency and to the great American people our greetings and congratulations on the Anniversary of the 4th of July, the date of the Declaration of Independence of the United States. We consider the 4th of July to be not just a landmark date in the history of the people of the United States of America, but one of great significance for all freedom loving people of the world. The American Revolution has taught the lovers of freedom and human rights that indeed freedom and liberty are the most basic and fundamental legitimate aspirations of all human beings and are indeed worth all the sacrifices that must be made to make such aspirations and hopes attainable and accepted tenets of the Social Contract that regulates relations between the citizens and their respective governments.
We are proud to say that the Yemeni Revolution, now ongoing for five months, also aspires to attain for the Yemeni people the very same foundation of governance upon which the United States was established: “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”, as the 16th President of the United States rightfully declared in the Gettysburg Address over a hundred and fifty years ago. For months, the Yemeni people have come out by the millions, sometimes reaching 5 million people on some days all demanding for a democratic government of institutions that operates on the principles of justice and application of law on an equal basis for all citizens, without any special privileges or status for any citizens notwithstanding their ethnic, tribal, sectarian and regional affiliation, or their relationship to any Government official.
The people of Yemen had really expected that the President, Government and people of the United States will recognize these genuine aspirations of the Yemeni people, as being commensurate with the kind of government your Administration would wish to see replace the dictatorship that has ruled Yemen for the past 33 years (21 years as the Republic of Yemen, under the Presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh and the years before that as the Yemen Arab Republic). On the contrary, the White House and concerned Administration departments seem to totally and almost deliberately avoid taking account of the great sacrifices made by the protesting masses of Yemenis (please see attached photos). Even before the current Arab Spring Revolt currently in progress in Yemen, Yemen has witnessed separate regional protests against the oppressive regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the southern governorates (Aden and other governorates that used to make up what was called South Yemen before the unification of both North and South Yemen in 1990) and in the Northern Governorates of Sa’ada, Sana’a and Al-Jouf. In the South tensions reached the point of our southern brothers demanding a breakup of the recently united country, because of the refusal of the Saleh regime to abide by the Unification Agreement signed with the leaders of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen after having unilaterally undertaken a military invasion of these territories in the Summer of 1994, when the Saleh regime did not implement the Pact of Reconciliation and Accord signed by all political factions, social and leading tribal leaders in Amman earlier in the same year. In the North, Saleh’s regime waged six consecutive wars against the people of Sa’ada Governorate and other northern governorates, with the sixth of such wars also involving all the military forces of a foreign regional power, and even the United States, without due cause. The people of these areas were protesting religious persecution and political repression. In all these serious breaches of the Social Contract between the Yemeni people and the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Saleh’s forces perpetrated countless human rights violations against hundreds of the country’s citizens using American arms, intelligence, technical assistance and coordination with other regional powers. Most prominent human rights advocacy groups (foreign and local) testified, documented and photographed such violations. There was also ample enough coverage by the international, regional and domestic independent press to testify to most of these violations, including the summary punishment of the people of Sa’ada Governorate and other areas of Yemen for “supporting protesting groups” such as the Houthis or the Southern Movement. Even when knowing this well, the United States continued to provide the regime with funds, armaments, training and technical assistance on the pretext of enhancing Yemeni security forces’ ability to fight terrorist groups.
When the peaceful Revolution of Yemen began in Mid-February of this year, the Yemeni people were optimistic that the United States was to take a comparatively similar position as taken by your Administration in recognizing the right of the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to change from the tyrannical and decadent regimes in these countries. There is nothing that would distinguish the Saleh regime as any better than the repressive regimes in those countries. In fact the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh has not shown any desire whatsoever to perform as a modern democratic government, but rather insisted on sinking Yemen ever deeper in the pitfalls of political instability and corruption. Public services were almost non-existent or of very poor quality, not to mention the lack of equal opportunity for all the Yemeni people to have access to natural and public resources. The regime monopolized all economic activities within a tight net framework of nepotism and patronage and rapid enrichment of all the public officials and social dignitaries, on whom it counted for support and fealty or for the repression and elimination of any opponents.
Despite the countless incriminating reports of human rights advocacy groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the United Nations (UNHRC and the Council of Human Rights), and Global Integrity, as well as the annual reports issued by the US State Department and organizations like the Carnegie Foundation, the United States Government continued to draw up its foreign policy on Yemen with a blind eye towards all these violations of human rights and the horrendously extreme corruption that characterized the Saleh regime. It was quite evident that the United States Government was the least concerned about the safety and security of the Yemeni people from the many organs of repression of the Saleh regime, some of which are disguised as anti terrorism organs, which the United States backs financially, materially and technically. In fact, it has become clearly evident that it is this blind support to one of the most notoriously tyrannical and corrupt regimes in the region encouraged the regime to exercise all means to tighten its grip on the Yemeni people and to further sink Yemen into poverty and deprivation of public services that can operate at the minimal recognized standards required.
It should be borne in mind that the former Bush Administration in the White House had initially been misled by the Saleh regime and some of the regional powers into believing that Saleh that the Saleh regime were democratic and the best allies against terrorism, only to realize that all the reports cited above as well as countless professional, press and media reports attested to the Saleh regime violating just about every human right recognized as mandatory of all governments, according to international agreements and conventions, to which Yemen was party. Moreover, it was clear that with over 55% of school age children not enrolled in school, Yemen was heading for a disaster, and becoming more conducive to the development of terrorism cells, from this large segment of the population that will not be able to be qualified to provide for themselves the minimum of requirements for livelihood, being illiterate, uneducated and lacking in any meaningful vocational skills. Thus, American support to Saleh may be actually a cause in itself for fostering the growth of terrorism in Yemen. This is attributed, in part, to the unwillingness of Administration officials to recognize that it was the Saleh regime that encouraged the development of terrorist cells, whether by members mostly drawn from neighboring countries, or drawn from the poor and unemployed young youth who are unable to have access to the means of achieving the minimal educational standards to become good productive citizens. Time and again, the United States mistakenly provides the Saleh regime with sophisticated equipment, which your Administration knowingly knows or should know that Saleh and his cronies used and continue to use to clamp down on peaceful protesters in most of the cities of Yemen, or in waging wars against northern and southern protesters against the oppression that has characterized the Saleh regime. The White House policy on Yemen has mistakenly persisted on the assumption that American security concerns can only be dealt with by the Saleh regime (I.e, under the President – Ali Abdullah Saleh and with his sons and nephews command the Republican Guards, Central Security, Special Forces and other military and paramilitary forces). The latter clearly shows that the Saleh regime is no more than a family enterprise that is not subject to any accountability or oversight by any Yemeni Government or even civil society organizations, since the regime represses all press exposure of infractions and excesses, especially by Saleh and his cronies, since Saleh has issued a law that gives all senior officials immunity from any questioning for violations.
Regrettably, the Obama Administration continued to be misled into believing that Saleh and his regime are sincere and serious in their fight against terrorism and the so called Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula. It seems to have escaped the awareness of Washington that a considerable number of those involved in terrorism are imported from other countries in the region, which have a long tradition of breeding and funding terrorism. In fact the leading elements of “Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula” are “escaped” fugitives from some of the neighboring countries, who filtered into Yemen with the knowledge and tacit agreement of the Saleh regime. It is also noteworthy to note that most regions and tribes of Yemen refuse to allow terrorists to operate in their territorial domains. The areas where there is some recent increasing intense terrorist activity in Yemen are ironically the very same limited areas sanctioned by the Saleh regime for such operations. It is well known in Yemen and by most knowledgeable regional and international political observers that the Saleh regime has used the terrorism card for domestic political leveraging and to continue to blackmail and embezzle foreign governments like the United States to provide aid and assistance on the false pretext of combating terrorism. AQAP is a concoction that was recently created by escaped fugitives from Saudi Arabia and some Yemenis, who have had some reported ties to terrorist groups, in other countries, and even some Yemenis professing to be of Yemeni origin, but who were raised and educated in the United States, like Anwar Al-Awlaki or non Yemenis like the alleged Nigerian bomb suspect Abdulmattalib, and the recently captured Egyptian member in the United States.
The Revolution of Yemen as not merely a dispute between certain various factions of the political and social mix of Yemen. The Revolution of Yemen involves the population of Yemen demanding a change from an oppressive regime ruling Yemen for the past thirty three years – a regime that has literally brought the population of Yemen into the abyss of poverty and social degradation, while the kin of the President of Yemen and his loyal cronies in Government enjoyed all access to the natural and public resources of the country. The Revolution of Yemen, as may be erroneously perceived by members of your distinguished Administration at times, is not a dispute between a ruling party and a collection of opposition parties and/or some social dignitaries. The Revolution of Yemen is a genuine desire of the overwhelming majority of the Yemeni people to enjoy human rights and freedom and the right of equal access to the resources of the country: natural, public and private. We are sure that the various public media has shown the extent to which the Revolution of Yemen involves the greatest representation of the citizens of Yemen, surpassing all the popular participations of the previous Revolutions of the Arab Spring. Even the unfortunate violence that highlighted a tragic interval within the span of the Yemeni Revolution, was not associated with the real genuine Revolution of the Yemeni people, by any means, as all the “squares” of the peaceful protesters maintained their insistence and adamancy that the Yemeni Revolution shall not deviate from its peaceful nature. That violence was more the result of the insistence of the Saleh regime to try save its eminent collapse by drawing the people of Yemen into civil strife that will turn the people of Yemen from pursuing their legitimate aspirations peacefully.
The Yemeni people are indeed surprised by the insistence of the concerned officials in your Administration to try to intervene in the domestic political affairs of Yemen, by insisting that certain elements of the Saleh regime, including some of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s offspring and close of kin, must continue to play important and sensitive roles in any Government that replaces the collapsing regime of Saleh. We assure you that this is in contrast to the wishes of Yemeni protesters, who insist that the Saleh regime must be replaced, in total, by a civilian Government that is governed by a division of power, and a balanced distribution of Government mandate, with checks and balances to avoid all the maladies that the Saleh regime has inflicted upon Yemen for the last thirty-three years.
On another note, we would like to stress that the Saleh Regime has killed any hope in coming to a solution of the Yemeni “political crisis” by the so called Initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This was by President Saleh’s own refusal to accept what may be regarded as the best legal and political package, which any dictator has ever gotten, enjoying an unprecedented full immunity from legal pursuit for all the crimes inflicted against the Yemeni people, including the killing and wounding of thousands of peaceful demonstrators against the oppressive measures of the regime, in just about every major and secondary city of Yemen and every region, not to mention the thousands of civilians killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the six wars of Sa’ada, some of which were actually funded and even inflicted by certain members of the GCC. The refusal of President Saleh to sign the Initiative has killed the initiative, and even the Joint Meeting Parties has regarded its previous approval of the Initiative as no longer binding on its part, after the President refused to sign it. Thus it is useless to continue to regard the Initiative as any sound basis for reaching any political solution.
To put it bluntly, the Yemeni protesters are against all interferences and interventions in Yemeni domestic political affairs, and this is reinforced by the as the local Arab traditional saying, which states, “The people of Mecca know their areas better than anyone else”. The only way to come out of the current deadlock is for the Vice President of Yemen to carry out his Constitutional duty by forming a Transitional Council that will oversee the transfer to a duly and freely elected Legislature and President, who will in turn work towards the drafting and issuance of a new Constitution for the Republic of Yemen, that will encompass the wishes and aspirations for which so many thousands of Yemenis gave their lives. Although the remaining elements of the regime have attempted to bring the Yemeni people to heel, by denying them access to essential commodities such as gasoline and diesel fuels, not to mention ceasing to provide power for almost 20 hours per day, such repressive measures have failed to weaken the resolve of the Yemeni people to accept nothing short of a modern civilian Government that guarantees universally recognized rights enjoyed by all citizens of modern governments, which fulfills the wishes of the Yemeni people and not the quickly drawn up political designs drawn up in regional and US policy strategists, which fulfill the agendas pursued by the respective governments thereof. We assure you that the Yemeni people are capable of working out a political framework for the application of the demands of the Revolution and there are many capable people in Yemen, who are qualified and possess the wherewithal to ensure that the Yemeni people never have to face the kind of oppression suffered under the Saleh regime. This can only be done if there is minimal or even zero interferences and interventions from the outside in this most important critical moment in Yemen’s history. After all it was this kind of intervention and interference that brought on the oppressive Saleh regime, and surely the Yemeni people will not accept any repeat of history.
The people of Yemen are of course fully aware that the United States Government may have some grounds for concern on some security matters involving terrorism. The Revolution of Yemen views the issue of terrorism as one of the major issues that must be dealt with firmly and without any further chance for Yemen to be used as a base for terrorist operations. As you are probably aware, the terrorists are more a product of the political maneuvers of the Saleh regime to insure its longevity and the institution hereditary rule. Time and again, the people of the Yemeni Revolution at the leadership level and the grass roots level have expressed that Yemen should be free from all terrorism and religious extremism, since the latter are in violation of genuine Moslem dogma and Yemeni social and even tribal norms. We assure you that it is a paramount goal of the Revolution work towards eliminating all facets of terrorism and all terrorist activity in Yemen. Yemen and the Yemeni people are the first and direct victims of terrorism and religious extremism, which the people of Yemen recognize as anathema to the religious beliefs and convictions of the overwhelming majority of Yemenis. We can safely assure Your Excellency that the people of Yemen will insist that the resulting Government of Yemen brought on by the Revolution shall cooperate fully with the United States and the International Community to bring an end to terrorism for once and for all and to strive diligently for the achievement of a peaceful and stable world free of all reasons and sources for violence and conflict.
Finally, therefore, we ask Your Excellency and the American people to recognize that the Revolution of Yemen is a legitimate call for civil government that will end a long period of political repression and economic subjugation by the collapsing Saleh regime. Any insistence by the United States or other regional powers is tantamount to the violation of Yemen’s sovereign rights to self determination. Furthermore, the Yemeni people opt for no more than a constructive change to a corruption free democratic government of institutions.
God bless the people of the United States of America and the people of the Republic of Yemen.
Coordinating Council of Yemeni Revolution for Change