Published on 8 April 2015 in News
Khalid Al-Karimi (author)
SANA’A, April 7—Members of the Southern Movement who represented the group at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) of 2013 and 2014 released a statement on Tuesday calling for an end to hostilities and a return to dialogue.
In spite of internal divisions, those speaking on behalf of the Southern Movement at the NDC characterize their movement as a pacifist one dedicated to the political process. “Our southern revolution is peaceful, and it believes in peace and dialogue as the way to resolve all disputes,” the statement read, calling for talks to resume under the auspices of UN Special Envoy Jamal Benomar.
Ashjan Shuraih, a Southern Movement representative at the NDC, says her group’s statement comes at a critical time as violence continues to escalate throughout the country. “Whatever we fight over, dialogue is the solution. The longer we ignore peaceful talks, the more victims we will see,” she told the Yemen Times on Tuesday.
Shuraih added that a return to dialogue should not have any conditions attached. “There should be genuine goodwill before dialogue resumes. Imposing conditions beforehand is obstructive, we will find solutions during and after dialogue,” she said.
The Southern Movement does not have a united leadership and is composed of several groups seeking varying degrees of autonomy for southern Yemen.
Ahmed Yasin, a Southern Movement member originally from Aden but a resident of Sana’a, said he is supportive of dialogue but disagrees with Shuraih and other NDC representatives on the course new talks should take. “The southern people accept dialogue, but this dialogue should be a peer-to-peer one,” said Yasin, adding that talks should only take place between south and north Yemen as two sovereign entities.
Another member of the movement, Ahmed Bamualem, of Hadramout, said former NDC representatives do not speak for the Southern Movement. “It is acceptable if we have dialogue between southern and northern Yemen, but otherwise it is absolutely rejected. If any southern leader wants the southern people to side with him, they should adopt the stance of the southern people,” said Bamualem.
Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi Political Office in Sana’a, described the statement as “logical” and said his group supports a return to dialogue without conditions. “We have no issue with the Southern Movement,” said Al-Bukhaiti, but called demands for talks based along a north-south divide “unrealistic.”
“If we are two separate states, what is the need for national dialogue?” asked Al-Bukhaiti.