Feature photo | A Yemeni man cleans in front of his house during a national cleanup campaign in Sanaa, Yemen, Dec. 12, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP
by Ahmed AbdulKareem , published on MintPress News, May 7, 2019
Note: A perspective on Yemen that you probably haven’t seen before. While MBS and MBZ focus on bombing infrastructure and taking territory in Yemen for an ‘interim’ president (currently living comfortably in Riyadh) whose term ended before this war began . . . A broad coalition of the locals are building a political and hopefully material infrastructure for Yemen (JB)
SANA’A, YEMEN — In what is the most extensive national plan published by a Yemeni government entity in the past three decades, the political wing of the Houthi movement, Ansar Allah, unveiled a comprehensive plan to rebuild war-torn Yemen through a manifesto offering 175 goals to rebuild the nation into a modern, stable and democratic state by 2030.
The manifesto, officially called the National Vision, refutes long-echoed Saudi claims that the Houthis are simply violent rebels occupying Yemen’s capital and shows a flexing of political power that reaffirms the Houthis primary reason for mobilizing against the ousted government of Abdul Mansour-al Hadi: a desire to have competent government institutions that establish a Yemeni democracy and to make the country prosperous.
It’s also a sign that the Houthis are seeking to reestablish relationships with countries around the world, and ultimately reopen Yemen to foreign investment.
The incumbent president of the Supreme Political Council in Sana`a, Mahdi al-Mashat, who is also a senior member of the Ansar ِAllah political party, announced the implementation of the National Vision and confirmed that the government in Sana`a, known as the National Salvation Government of the Republic of Yemen, has officially adopted the new vision.
Speaking at an inauguration event attended by members of the Supreme Council, al-Mashat called on Yemenis to sharpen their resolve and move towards rebuilding the country, saying “while we are confronting the Saudi-led Coalition, we also face the challenge of building the state.”
Supreme Council Secretary Dr. Yaser Al-Houri said that representatives from various political, professional, trade union, and women’s groups participated in crafting the manifesto, with the goal of providing services, strengthening the economy, and becoming self-sufficient in all areas.
Rune Agerhus, chairman of the International Solidarity Committee with Yemen — a consortium of human-rights activists, journalists, and politicians from around the world — explained what the vision means:
The National Vision symbolizes a milestone in Yemen’s path towards pluralistic democracy. It shows the willingness of the National Salvation Government [led by Houthis] to work towards democracy, despite the current aggression ravaging the Yemeni Republic.”
An ambitious and comprehensive program
The National Vision also aims to remake Yemen into a regional power, while strengthening state institutions that have been destroyed during the war, all before the year 2030 and while the Saudi-Coalition continues its bombardment of the country.
Some of the critical areas addressed in the National Vision include raising the average life expectancy, improving social services, increasing the literacy rate, tackling corruption, and raising the percentage of women in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030. Today, women comprise a mere 6 percent of Yemen’s workforce.
The National Vision also strives to unite the country — currently splintered along political, sectarian and tribal lines — by launching a comprehensive national reconciliation that addresses political solutions, governance, social construction, economic development, administrative development, justice, the rule of law, innovation, creativity, knowledge, scientific research, education, health, environment, defense, foreign policy, and national security.
Furthermore, it endeavors to tackle corruption in a country that currently ranks amongst the worst in the world on the World Corruption Perceptions Index and achieves an annual real economic growth rate of less than 5 percent.
The 2030 goals set out by the National Vision are lofty, to say the least, especially for a country that has suffered immensely through four-years of a war waged by a coalition that is seemingly hell-bent on destroying every facet of civilized society. However, if the National Vision’s goals are reached, by 2023 Yemen will rise significantly on World Corruption Perceptions Index, will increase its literacy to at least 80 percent, will increase the participation of women in the labor force to at least 30 percent, and will reduce the poverty rate to less than 20 percent.
Yemen’s sustainable development index will improve from 45 to 60; its investment index will rise from 130 to 190; its annual per capita GDP will reach above $2,000; and its unemployment rate will be reduced to 10 percent.
The National Vision also lays out a plan to boost Yemen’s economy into one of the top 100 in the world, reduce its annual inflation rate to less than 5 percent and, perhaps most impressively, raise the war-torn nation to at least 98 on the international index of democracy and the freedom and protection of citizens’ rights.
Optimism and wariness
Yemeni experts are optimistic about the plan and Ansar Allah’s ability to carry it out. The vision — whose primary slogan is a saying by the late Ansar Allah President Saleh al-Sammad: “one hand protects, the other hand builds” — faces obstacles but has a good chance at success. According to Saleem Saleh, a scholar who has studied the Houthi movement since its inception,
“the Houthis previously held no military or political power but quickly became a powerful force able to withstand a coalition of several countries, despite six [previous Yemeni] wars fought.”
However, many political analysts who spoke to MintPress believe that Saudi Arabia will work to thwart the National Vision, as it emphasizes national sovereignty and independence, values that contradict Saudi Arabia’s vision of Yemen as a backyard to the kingdom. They cite the Saudi assassination of Yemen’s former President of the Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Sammad, who was murdered by Saudi drones in Hodeida after he first proclaimed the idea of a new National Vision in 2018.
Saudi Arabia’s policy is not without precedent. North Yemen’s charismatic president, Ibrahim Muhammad al-Hamdi, was murdered by Saudi Arabia on October 11, 1977, after the Al-Hamdi government embarked on an ambitious economic development plan to help bring Northern Yemen closer to 20th-century modernity.
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.