GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Anne-Linda Amira
Title of Paper:
The End of Unity as the Result of Peripheralization of Yemen’s South?
Paper Proposal Text :
When the first protests of the Southern Movement (al-hirak al-janubi) started in 2007 the movement called for the end of marginalization of Southern Yemenis in the unitary state and for solutions against the precarious socio-economic situation in the country. When the protests were more violently beaten down by Yemeni state security forces the movement changed from a social movement to a movement with concrete political objectives, such as, amongst others, state independence of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which united with the Arab Republic of Yemen in 1990. During the so-called Arab Spring the Southern Movement received new opportunities for mobilization against the (northern) “Yemeni Occupation” – as it is called in Southern discourse – that is perceived by the movement as a threat to Southern Yemenis. The hostilities by the Yemeni security forces strengthen the pro-secessionist faction inside the Southern Movement and forwarded and accelerated the call for independence. The conflict between the North and the South in the country is fundamentally destabilizing Yemen in the long term.
In this paper it will be questioned if the continued unity of the Yemeni State is still feasible for the majority of southern Yemenis with regard to the ramifications of peripheralization in Yemen’s South during the last two decades. By using the concept of peripheralization (Fischer-Tahir & Naumann 2013) this paper will elucidate how processes of change in economy, in demography, in political decision-making and in socio-cultural norms and values peripherialized Southern Yemen after Yemeni unity in 1990 and mainly after the civil war in 1994 and how these processes threaten Yemeni unity today.
I argue that the emergence of the Southern Movement is the result of peripheralization of Southern Yemen. The ‘Southern Issue’ was mainly an economic demand at the time of its onset and is consolidated as a political struggle today. It will be shown that the prior negligence and marginalization of Southern Yemen is now no longer possible, as the ‘periphery’ forces the power centre to find political solutions to a deteriorating socio-economic and security situation in Yemen. This fact is most visible in the extension of the conference of the National Dialogue (NDC) that started on 18 March 2013 and that had to end officially a half year later. While violence is escalating in the country, the Southern Issue’s working group and its 8+8 Subcommittee that is formed by eight southern and eight northern delegates failed to reach a consensus on the question of how many regions a future federal Yemeni state will have.
This paper takes a macro-political and macro-socioeconomic approach combined with local Southern Yemeni views and perceptions. It sheds light on the question of future state structures as for example of unity, of a two-region-federalism with self-determination for Southern Yemen, or of Southern independence. The question of future state structures is linked to the challenges of peripheralization. Furthermore, it will be highly questioned if any agreement on a federal state will be accepted by grassroots actors in Southern Yemen.