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The Southern Consultative Meeting: The Destination of Peace

SMA NEWS – ADEN THE CAPITAL
The Consultative Meeting that was launched on Thursday in Aden among different Southern parties, is considered a milestone in the journey towards achieving peace, and stability in the region. The meeting is the first of its kind since the establishment of the national movement known as (Southern Hirak). The meeting was held at the invitation of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) which is the most prominent entity in South Yemen. This came after two years of solo dialogues and intensified contact among the Southern parties at home and abroad.

It is not an exaggeration to stress the importance of this extraordinary event. For a long time, Yemen has been damned by a destructive war and local conflict linked to regional influence. This has led to the spread of suffering, waves of displacement, and loss of lives. It has also resulted in the emergence of big changes which reformulated the political scene in North and South.  South Yemen has been a strategic target in the conflict, and has lost much to thwart the invasion of the Houthis and their allies. Thus, the last war has contributed to reuniting Southern parties who have long been criticized for their lack of harmony.

The war has reconfigured the scene in a way that produced new Southern structures that enjoy popular and military presence as well as regional support, and regulatory coherence. Accordingly, the Consultative Meeting in Aden, which will last for 4 days, provides a decisive opportunity for the Southern parties to meet and discuss their points of view, and even their disagreements as well as finding a common ground for peace and prosperity. Holding the meeting proves the serious work and dedication of the Southern National Dialogue team which was formed in the middle of 2021 at the invitation of STC’s President Aidrous Al-Zubaidi. The team was tasked with making consultations and dialogues with elites and all Southern figures and components to build a consensus on the views related to the basic issues and to reach a joint vision about the future of South Yemen.

Launching this important historical event, with the participation of about 300 representatives of different Southern components and spectra, paves the way for a solid strategic, political and national work. Additionally, this creates an active state of affinity. It also solidifies and enhances the Southern alignment and the values of reconciliation and tolerance for which the Southern elites and components have promoted since the establishment of Southern Hirak in 2007. This exceptional status is highly symbolic    for South Yemen. Before the May 4th event, the history of Southern meetings and dialogues had not been represented with such a huge Southern gathering.

This came despite the sensitivity and the hardships   related to the time of the event    given the complications of the internal conflict since 2014 which enters its ninth year in Yemen. However, the event itself represents a supportive and supplementary step for the diligent international and regional moves to ensure the   success of the comprehensive peace process. Furthermore, this can pave the way for  a fertile ground for Southerners before their engagement in the final solution negotiations with other Yemeni parties to obtain  their political and military entitlements and achieve the maximum of their demands in accordance to their fair cause and big counterterrorism role in addition to their  political and military influence  throughout South Yemen.

The importance of the first Southern Consultative Meeting is that it includes a wide range of different Southern spectra, components and community figures as well as civil society organizations. They will discuss a number of important files suggested by the team of the Southern Dialogue. This includes “the Southern National Honour Code” in addition to files related to partnership, risk management, treating the effects of intra-Southern conflicts, the engagement of local communities in the dialogue process and the negotiation stage to end the conflict in Yemen. All of them are important files which are still open. There is a possibility to discuss them as well as make observations and suggest different views about them before their final form. This would result in Southern consensus which would represent the harvest of two years of intensified Southern dialogues that won’t be the last. 

The most important is that the meeting expresses a fixed view that represents an idea which has been long adopted by Southerners with all their political and popular components. The idea is the restoration of the South state and the establishment of an independent federal Southern state that gives its people the right for self-management. Moreover, this vision represents different political reforms that promote the idea of ambitious openness to everyone and strengthen   the culture of dialogue and respect for the other Southerner. 

The majority of components and political forces in South Yemen have supported the idea of the first Consultative Meeting. Over 80% of Southern components sent positive signs that they will be a basic part of this important national path.  They were actually present in the event. On the other hand, some of the other Southern components apologized for not participating in the Consultative Meeting. The reasons behind this may be related to organizational matters, the mechanism of calling for the dialogue or not being ready to actively adopt such a move. Some of these parties fear that their political character will dissolve into a broader national frame.  However, the organizers of the Southern Dialogue claim that all Southern parties they met, including the conservatives, agree with STC on the goal of restoring the South Yemen state. 

Several Southern parties outside South Yemen have long tried to export to abroad an idea about the fragility of the Southern position with an aim to weaken it politically.  They wanted to enhance an idea that any consensus among the Southern parties will be a temporary and collapsible one. However, these parties failed to achieve that as the wheel of the Southern National Dialogue has moved forward. It has largely succeeded in achieving a sort of harmony and consensus and still knocks all doors. This stage will be followed by several other phases and moves. 

However, some obstacles that hinder the relentless national action may be there. Nonetheless, it is important for Southerners to maintain their coherence and power, especially before entering the negotiations on a final solution in Yemen. This would enable them to avoid opening loopholes that would distract their efforts or try to weaken them. Likewise, it is important to keep an open dialogue door for all Southern parties and to take into consideration that whoever won’t come today will come tomorrow.  Major General Aidrous Al-Zubaidi said: “Whoever didn’t come to us, we will go to him”. The current stage is important and sensitive and requires the involvement of everyone. Its results can be built upon by several expanded dialogues and consultative meetings that would establish a diversified political life in the future of South Yemen.

It is important to indicate that the event remarkably came concurrently with efforts to restructure STC’s departments and administrative bodies due to a dire need to keep pace with the stage and its accelerating changes. This aims at improving its work performance and correcting the failure that has accompanied it since inception. Such restructure would contribute in achieving reforms and political stability, especially that STC embraces several parties, elites and the social and community components.

Henceforth, the results of the meeting will have big consequences on both South Yemen and the region’s security and stability as a whole. If Southern parties are able to find a common ground and reach a joint vision, this would pave the way for a more stable and prosperous future for people there. This will send a message of hope and reconciliation to the wider region and the international community. Therefore, this move requires local, regional and international support including the Northern parties. The stability of North Yemen and the region is linked to the stability of South Yemen – SOUTH24

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