Hadhramaut and the uphill task ahead

By: Muhammad Mbarak Bin-Dohry - March 2012 
 A brief report on an extended tour starting from the UK to Malaysia/Singapore (posted on website:24 December 2011) 
  Awareness of Hadharem Al Mahjar of their ancestral
The following is the continuation of my final leg of the tour which took me to Mukalla, Hadhramaut.My personal gratitude and thanks go to all who received me and for the encouraging, frank, andfruitful discussions we had on the humanitarian medical aid supported by Hadhramis in the diaspora.
I came to the end of my Hadhramaut visit on 21 February, the day of the election/endorsement of theVice President Abd al Rab Mansour Hadi to become the transitional President of the Republic after Ali Abdullah Saleh.
My personal account and opinion on what I visually saw and witnessed during my two months stay inMukalla, Hadhramaut.
I carried out field visits to most of the humanitarian charitable organisations in Mukalla, pluseducational/training and other institutions (details posted on the website on 10 March 2012).
Needless to say that the current political situation has affected the majority of the population, whilegovernment institutions have been dysfunctional, corrupt and worse of all the security and well beingof the citizens is on the brink. A clear and loud message of an occupying power split between twofactions of the Yemeni army control the South. They both flex their muscles armed to the teeth andvisibly clear to all to see. The presence of the Security Services in the Southern towns and villages ison the high. There have been point blank provocative incidents and rampant corruption carried out,that take place with impunity in front of the citizens. I personally witnessed some and there have beenhorrendous tales from people of all walks of life on what is happening in all government institutionsand around the country.
Everything has been politicised including the religion, the past tranquillity, respect enjoyed byHadhramaut and its people have been totally destroyed and a completely alien culture has takenover. Beggars are on the streets of Mukalla and elsewhere, a new phenomenon for Hadhramaut.
The chewing of Qat has caught up with most, a great pity for Hadhramaut known for its piety, honestyand that banned Qat during the days when it was a British Protectorate.
Generally the poor have been greatly neglected and affected by the spiral cost of living as well as thescarce basic everyday necessities.
The Electricity Corporation has failed to meet local demand. The extra power generation supplyprovided by a privately owned company is being threatened with a shut down in Mukalla, due to nonepayment by the government.
Domestic gas has been in short supply, hence people have to join long ques whenever it reachesdistributors and have to pay double the official price, the same also applies to other petroleumproducts.Government hospitals DO NOT dispense medicine the public have to fend for their prescriptionswhich the poor cannot afford. Some Charitable Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who receiveaid from donors, have stationed their own people to manage and cater for medicine to help the twomajor Mukalla Government Hospitals (Bashraheel Hospital, Mukalla, and Ibn Sina Hospital, Fuwah) inhelping the poor.
In a nutshell education, healthcare, security, infrastructure, social and other services, are completelyin a mess and useless. This is due to mismanagement and lack of resources. The situation appliesgenerally to most parts of the country. Government coffers have been emptied by the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh!!
The above is but a drop in an ocean of the woes affecting the people of Hadhramaut. The situation isstill unclear with the warring parties divided with no clear vision. Let us hope that the 'transitionalgovernment' will look at a new era and address the huge uphill task ahead.
To be able to see the resentment that exists amongst the people one has to go back a few decadesto be able to read into what has happened to the South of the country and in particular HadhramautThey are clearly and forcefully calling to disengage from the unity that was declared in 1990 betweenthe PDRY (1990 Population : 2.6million. Area: 332,970km
) and the Yemen Arab Republic (1990Population: Over 10 million. Area:195,000 km
). By 1994 the situation got worse and a civil warbroke out between the two states and obviously the Yemen Arab Republic took control with most of
the Southern leadership going into exile and civilians emigrated in large numbers. As the North’s tribal
and government forces were the victors then, they plundered and took hold of all government entitiesof the South, public, private land, employment positions, government contracts with a culture ofmisappropriation, nepotism, corruption and so on. It is said that this was a systematic policy tocompletely eradicate the Southern identity.
From 1994 the Yemeni government has been encouraging northern Yemenis to "re-populate" theHadhramaut in order to change its demographics and reduce the number of ethnic Hadhramis therebyquelling separatist sentiment.
The regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh has therefore managed to bring about wide spread hatred betweenthe citizens, that was never experienced before the declared unity between the two 
 partners,which eventually led to the 1994 war. They went into a union without the consent of the people of theSouth in 1990. This is now an issue felt in Hadhramaut including those living in the diaspora. Theycollectively seek the status quo to change to have an independent Hadhramaut. Other voices call forthe South to disengage from the unity with the North and thereafter discussions and/or a referendumshould take place between the people of the South. Either way the mechanism for any dialogueseems to be in tatters. As seen from the many initiatives and conferences that were held by theSoutherners. The same scenario is the case with the tribal leaders of Hadhramaut. All the efforts haveso far been futile to get them agree on a way forward.
Pessimistic views have been expressed by many on the current situation and towards those shapingthe country
’s future. It is no wonder that investments whether from foreign partners or Hadhramis in
the diaspora have been on hold until the situation unfolds. The economy leaves a lot to be desired inspite of the wealth and resources that exist within Hadhramaut.
In a wider sense, Hadhramaut includes the territory of  Mahrato the east all the way to the
contemporary border with Oman. This encompasses the current ‘governorates’ of Hadram
aut andMahra in their entirety as well as parts of theShabwah.Hadhramaut has a total area193,032 km
and a population of over two million (2005), a greater number of talented, educated,skilled and wealthy Hadhramis live in the diaspora.
On my last leg of the tour, I made a short four days trip to next door Oman, whose population of 
2.8million (World Bank, 2010) and an area of 309,500 sq. km., has witnessed the development of itsinfrastructure, education, healthcare, security, military, and social systems in the country grow to a
high standard under Sultan Qaboos’s rule of four decades (from 1970).
Oman’s development in four
decades greatly shames the PDRY - Independent from 1967 to 1990and in control for nearly 23 years of total failure. The unification with the Yemen Arab Republic was amisguided calculation and the final nail in the coffin. The price of which is being paid by the entireSouth. Yet there are those who still yearn for the old leadership whilst on the ground their reputation isquestionable.In conclusion, oppression has existed and continues to this day, it is now met with confrontation andin some areas violently. Unfortunately the repercussions are branded as terrorist operations and areaccused of being Al Qaida affiliated. While the human rights abuses and atrocities by the state areacclaimed as fighting the terrorists. The US involvement and other European/Foreign states insupporting the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh have always been questioned by most of the populationwithin the country and outside as acknowledging a tyrannical regime.
 A great task therefore lies ahead to prepare and educate the people on good governance, formulatinga new constitution, the armed forces and entire government institutions, all this will be met withobstacles from within. External forces both international and regional will be there to look after theirown interests.
It is therefore left to those honest, genuine leaders within and outside the country to seriously thrashand look for a way forward to end this quagmire , thereafter they may seek the support of otherfriendly states.

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