By taking the presidential oath, Abdrabo Mansour Hadi became the first Yemeni President to succeed the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. He was sworn-in “to protect the country’s unity, liberty and territories.” And he has two years to implement that great oath, and we are pretty sure that his mission will never be an easy one.
I believe his first rival will be the abdicated president Saleh, who doesn’t want to disappear from the Yemeni scene. He returned from his holiday in Las Vegas and New York, to take part in the presidential ceremonies, only as a challenge and reminder to his rivals that he is still around. What is even worse than Saleh’s being around is his son Ahmed who heads the Republican Guard, along with a bunch of other relatives in leading military posts.
Hadi and his new ruling team would have to confront not only Saleh but also the scary al-Qaeda. This organization succeeded in destroying the Yemeni community with the aim of creating tribal, sectarian as well as territorial divisions. That terrorist organization, which fled the Afghanistan mountains to the Yemen hills, is not an easy rival, especially that Hadi has to depend on an old military system.
The biggest challenge would be the accomplishment of an economic development, which is even tougher than toppling Saleh and confronting al-Qaeda. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world. It lacks a real economic infrastructure and suffers from high illiteracy. It wouldn’t be an easy mission to reconstruct that country, unless it gets helping hand from all Arabs and international support to aid it out of the dark tunnel it was locked in for 30 years.
The Yemenis have agreed, despite the reservations of many of them, on Hadi their new president. Wisely, they agreed to bring an end to three decades of Saleh’s lagging rule. What is even more important is for Yemen to remain a united country and to avoid disputes. The people of Yemen have given up a long list of wishes in order to reach an acceptable compromise; thus Saleh and his companions should not be allowed to ruin the future of these people who forgave him and allowed him to go unpunished.
If Yemenis succeed in moving forward, then we can say it was the most successful revolution in the Arab Spring. They abdicated their ruler with less bloodshed and chaos.
It is time for an integrated reconciliation and reconstruction of the big Yemen that President Saleh failed in achieving. He alleges that he is the builder of the unified Yemen. He never realized that unity is not a mere military project; but a partnership. South Yemen could have been a source for the success of Saleh’s political and economic rule, but he was unable to manage the unified Yemen. He only focused his attention on a game of a power-balance based on disputes between local powers.
Will Hadi, the new president, be able to do all this in just two years? It is a tough challenge, but when there is a well there is a way.
The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 26. 2012, and was translated by Abeer Tayel