So I woke one morning as I usually do scanning my Twitter time-line for the latest information on Yemen. That morning there was a bit of tension between some of the twitterati online. And obviously I am not going into that because, as with all things going on in Yemen, there’s what’s said, and what’s implied and what’s put on the table and what’s put underneath it. One rarely gets to the bottom of anything in Yemen unless you are a fly on the wall. Yemenis have perfected illusiveness into a rare level of art form. Accusations of ex royalty in cahoots with the ever irrepressible Saleh and his former arch enemies now loyal vanguards, the Houthis,were flung fro behind anonymous twitter accounts. Non specific tweets aimed at the The-If-You-Got-A-Bump-On-Your-Head-You’ll-Keep-Rubbing-It (aka if the shoe fits wear it) Brigade. That sort of thing.
It got me thinking. This could be it. Saleh could have just played his last card. What he has done to Yemen is beyond what Mubarak or Gaddaffi has done to Libya. Mubarak didn’t use his army to over run his country. It was the State’s army. They maintained a level of neutrality in 2011. Yemen doesn’t have a national army. And let’s be honest, the Libyans under Gaddaffi were miles better off than Yemenis under Saleh. So this guy is the biggest mistake Yemen ever allowed on itself. Ever.
As an ordinary person, living outside of Yemen more than he lived in it. I don’t know a lot of details. All I can go by in this post is a little imagination and a little bit of logic. If Saleh is out. Who is left to fill in those great big shoes of his? This is where my lack of knowledge about Yemen is a problem. But maybe I can deduce?
Let’s assume that Saleh pulls another miraculous comeback. Let’s say that Operation Decisive Storm fails, the Saudis back down, and strike a deal with Saleh. That could happen. Ahmed has been in the United Arab Emirates and has seemingly managed to win over a few influential fans. But after what they have done, can the Saleh dynasty really go back to ruling Yemen as if nothing happened? Yes. In my opinion, Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh CAN still return to power as if none of this ever happened because:
- The vast majority of ordinary Yemenis since 2011 and even more so since Operation Decisive Storm are on the verge of collapsing. No jobs, no safety, no money, no petrol, food shortages, water shortages, no sleep, bombs, chaos. People under these conditions are malleable and pliable enough to accept anyone or anything that will dangle the key to survival. Because this is what most Yemenis are needing now. Not democracy, or human rights, or intellectual freedom. They want to survive this war. They want to stop the chaos. If Saleh has the key to that. Then they will. take him back. This is more likely in the North. I don’t know if that is the case with the South.
- Hadi has come out of this looking like, not just the coward, but a traitor in the eyes of the Yemeni public. He invited the attack and even worse, allowed himself to be evacuated to the palaces of the very same people pulverising the country with their bombs from the safety of the skies. He came out from under the skirt of Saleh post 2011. He’s just fluff. Not even an insider of the Saleh regime. A puppet. Saleh contrasts favourably with Hadi. To Yemenis Hadi looks useless. And Yemenis need anything but useless at this time. Even if it means stomaching Saleh yet again.
- Saleh can continue to wreak havoc until the population breaks. And he can do that because Saudi Arabia and all her allies will not and can not do is bring in a land force into Yemen. They can bomb, but they can’t hold ground. And that leaves Saleh and the Houthis on the ground. and that means its just a question of who can hold their breath the longest. The civilian non-combatants? The Saleh-Houthi regime? or the Saudis? Who will blink first?
But what if Saleh really has played his last card? What if he is over? Who or what is next? I mean AFTER the next stop gap temporary measure of a candidate who’s purpose will be to plug the gap until a more permanent solution is found? A Houthi? Unlikely. A Saleh protégé? More likely. A Southerner after Hadi? I can’t see it.
Well what’s left?
Royalty of course. Stupid.
Well that is the first thing that popped into my head. And before you scoff me off as some kind of out of touch British Yemeni, I would argue that sometimes, the people who are out of the picture see the whole picture. Better. or not. Maybe it’s just my imagination or my under developed political acumen that keeps seeing ‘activity’ on social media. manoeuvrings and
positioning, which could be entirely…. Altruistic. So I called friends and family and just asked: Is there an appetite to bring back the monarchy to Yemen? The answer was: All the Sadah are up for it like they always are. Many are Houthi sympathisers. I didn’t get why many would be Houthi sympathisers. The Houthis have just put their hands in with Saleh of all people. If they make anyone ‘King’ it would be him right? Unless Saleh is a secret royalist? That doesn’t make sense. Maybe they know something we don’t. Any way these are details details..Details you would have to be a mind-reader to get to the bottom of. The point is: There is an appetite for a return to Monarchy among a sizeable minority in Yemen. And a sizeable minority is all you need in Yemen. The rest gets sorted through what’s- in-it-for-me negotiations. There is no viable alternative in the short or medium term and there is a power vacuum in Yemen that someone or something needs to fill unless you want Saleh or one of his extensions back.
So here are some questions I find myself asking myself. Not being Royal, just a humble commoner myself, I would have to apologise in advance if my conclusions are off the mark. But hey, I’m just killing time at work.
- Would the ex Royal family of Yemen even WANT to come back and rule Yemen such as it is right now?
“We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!”
We wants it, we needs it. And that literally was the first association I had when I asked myself that question. Smeagol from Lord of the Rings. In my imagination I can see them pacing up and down in a dilemma. How many ex Royal families say: “We had it coming. We deserved it. Actually no, We shouldn’t have had it in the first place. Not the lands, the power, the authority, it was all wrong. It was all an accident of birth, here, take the Sceptre and the Orb, let’s have a democracy.” .None. Now how many Royal families speak of God’s Will, God’s plan, or God’s Test, or God’s Burden or the Divine Right. Most, if not all. The bottom line is they always have to be forced to relinquish power either by fleeing, by eviction or by death.
- But would the ex Royal family want to come back? I imagine like Smeagoll they must be split about it. Some might be “no. no. no.” the other might be like: “but we wants it..” Do they want it in a covetous way? Probably. Aren’t they human, like us, like everyone else? All they need is an initial invite which may or may not have been sent already. Who knows, right?
- Reintroducing social casts or tiers based on perceived genetic lineage to revered religious figures is just, well, pathetic. Even if you can prove that you descend from the Prophet(pbuh) it doesn’t confer anything on you. It actually means nothing. Unless of course, you are implying that some of that holiness is somehow conferred on you? How does that work? It’s cool to subscribe to that way of thinking in the privacy of the Mafraj as long as it has no place legal or otherwise in the national narrative.
- The absolute divinely ordained monarch model who can lock away an entire population from the rest of the world just won’t fly. Not even in Yemen. So we can cross that one out.
- The value of the Ring isn’t in the gold or the workmanship. That isn’t what kept Gollum from running after it. It was it’s power. Because power is what humans want. And if you bump into someone who tells you they aren’t motivated by power, then it’s because they aren’t anywhere near it or have no hope of it or they are lying. Humans didn’t get to where they are on this planet without controlling whats around them to survive and to eliminate threats. Power is about control and the ability to make things work for you and your survival. Look at Saleh. He made a grab for power as an illiterate scrawny whippet of a man and spent 33 years building a network of power to protect and keep himself there. Not that different from the Autocrat before him. Or, the autocrat that will come after him. What the next autocrat has to do is look at how the previous autocrats related to power and projected it and learn accordingly.
- The United Kingdom has a very benign Monarchy and it works! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have something similar in Yemen? What are some of the positive sides of having our own Monarchy?
- We would fit into the immediate region much much better. In the past territorial ambitions did cause friction between the Saudi and the Yemeni monarchies which cost Yemen three provinces but that is all in the past now.
- A monarchy would give us the right kind of wasta with the right kind of people. Saleh had access to all the Gulf autocrats. But he was a blue collar autocrat. He didn’t have the breeding you see. A bit of a Su3look with a lot of weapons, money, and cunning that would make a cobra look… cuddly. So I can imagine they feared him, distrusted him, I can’t imagine they respected him. In fact, it has now become clear that they haven’t. And the neighbors never liked the idea of a republican non royal Yemen next to them. Even if it was a total failure. Maybe that is why Yemen was locked out of the GCC club. Think about it. Two royal families chatting away over cucumber sandwiches or whatever they have for high tea in the high societies of the Arabian Peninsula (or the Saudi Arabian Peninsula as some are calling it now) and prince/princess A is on a swinging sofa under an imported Oak tree and says to prince or princess B: “Look, can you speak to your Uncle maybe he can sort us out with a couple of desalination plants because the poor buggers are dying of thirst and I am just BESIDE myself with worry. “ Or maybe that’s not how it’s done. I am just a commoner after all. Maybe they just tweet to each other instead: “ @SaudiArabianPrincessNumber3,428 : Can you sort us out with desalination plants ASAP #KefayaThirst “
- I joke of course, but really, isn’t networking and contacts the name of the game everywhere? And what does it matter as long as we have the right kind of support network. Let’s face it. Yemen can not stand on its own feet anymore. It needs help. The best kind of help it can get right now is if its immediate neighbours stop sabotaging it and help nourish it. And for that, I think, we need to ‘revert’ to being a monarchy again, join them if you can’t lick em.It sounds mad and a bit too avante guarde, a little too radical I know but that is what Yemen needs. But that is just a commoners perspective, what do I know of Divinity and the Circles of High Society right? Right.
- The new generation is not the same as the last one! There one of us now! They have jobs, They’re trendy, They are world citizens. They’ve seen the world. They are educated. Charming. They tweet like us, go to protests like some of us. What’s not to like right? Think of the added value they can potentially confer on Yemen. On tourism. On womens’ rights. Think of them more as Kings and Queens of the People’s Hearts. Like the late Princess Diana of Wales. Fundraising, charitable events, Bake Sales, Networking that opens up job markets, casual peer to peer royal connections. And all the while staying away from politics. Again, look PAST my irreverence , I can’t help but be irreverent I just don’t believe in Royalty. I believe in good governance. And if good governance comes under the rule of Royals then im all for it. After all, what matters more to people than good governance? The problem is good governance in Yemen is problematic under the system and culture that Saleh has created in Yemen. Saleh may or may not be gone, but even if he does go, he has left a template that a lot of the elite has adopted. But that is another issue. The point here is that these lot are photogenic, convivial, modest (some of them) and cutely naïve sometimes. At least that is what is portrayed. It is always pot luck with these kinds of things. You just never know that you are going to get. And what starts off as something isn’t what it ends up as because Absolute power does what? Yeah, absolutely..
And these are pretty much the only reasons I can think of that would benefit Yemen from a return to a monarchy. They aren’t much, but they are not little. Back of a Saudi Invasion and a Saleh/Houthi takeover bid. Because then people, once the dust settles down will say: Did Saudi/Houthis/and Saleh just pull a fast one and returned us to a monarchy? Is this what this is all been about? And that’s just the before the Qat conspiracy theories. These means they have to be invited by the Yemeni people. This is a much better way in PR terms and it does give enough time and cover to work the scenes until the desired outcome is achieved.
Anyway this post can go on and on and I am supposed to be at work but I haven’t done any so I will quickly wrap it up and go to the most important part which is what I want from the monarchy.
- First of all I don’t want to kiss your hand. That has to go. Any 21st century Monarch that is okay with that has to be hung. Including the ones who feign withdrawing their hands in mock horror. Be classy.
- Longer golden afternoons.
- More pomp and ceremony.
- A return to traditional Yemeni Garb preferably from fabric made in Yemen not imported from China. No to the Saudi Wahabbi black Hijabs.
- A return to indeginous architecture. No Spanish style villas with Tuscan style roof tilings.
- Do something about corruption. This is a big ask. Impossible really. In fact, if you decide to come back and rule Yemen you will find that not only will you not be able to do anything about it, you will probably have to collude, participate, and be part of it. You will be forced to compromise from day one as long as any part of Saleh’s regime and culture remains. Real Politik.
- Complete decentralisation. Let every region have a generous amount of autonomy. Good for you, good for them, Good for everyone all round.
- Self-sufficiency food wise. Your ancestor managed it. Why shouldn’t you. And in fact, Yemen had the best diet without importing a thing.
- RETURN QAT CHEWING TO A SADAH ONLY ACTIVITY PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. Good luck with that.
- Freedom of movement to all Arab countries with a monarchy. That includes holidays, and right of work.
I think that about covers it. Hip Hip Hurrah. Hip Hip Hurrah. Hip Hip Hurrah.