On the 13th Anniversary of the February 2011 Uprising, How Do Yemenis Think About It?
Yemen marks today the 13th anniversary of the February 11 uprising, which broke out in 2011 against the regime of then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. At the time, different political, social, and military groups joined the public protests, calling for a regime change.
It was a turning point in Yemen's politics and governance, and the events that followed the uprising led the country to an unexpected path. With this 13th anniversary, diverse Yemeni groups from different factions have expressed their sentiments about this occasion.
The Revolutionary Youth Council released a statement yesterday on the anniversary of the February 11 uprising, saying, "When the February Revolution broke out thirteen years ago, the idea that the masses clung to was to restore dignity to the republic, as the inheritance project was the only project of an authority that failed to establish a state governed by institutions and laws."
The statement added, "The masses who suffer from militia domination and foreign interference still have the same idea, which is to restore dignity to the republic, and this will not happen unless the era of the militias ends …"
In 2014, the Houthi group, which was part of the popular uprising in 2011, took over Sanaa by the force of weapons, shuttering the dreams of millions of Yemenis and leading the country to an era of war, which is still ongoing.
The Houthi group commented on this anniversary of the February uprising, expressing gratitude for that event. Deputy Foreign Minister in the Houthi Sanaa-based government, Hussein Al-Ezzi, said that February 11 came as a result of the six unjust wars, all of which were signs that led to the "glorious September 21 revolution".
According to Al-Ezzi, the September 21 Houthi takeover of Sanaa was the conclusion of all revolutions. In 2015, the group ousted the Yemeni government and has ruled the northern provinces since then.
Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman said that Houthis are ruining the Yemeni state, tampering with its capabilities.
In a speech on the 13th anniversary of the February Popular Uprising, Karman said all attempts to eliminate the glory of the 2011 uprising will not succeed.
She added, "The alternative to the February 11 revolution in Yemen is dynastic, regional, and militia projects. There is no security in the Red Sea without the independence of the Republic of Yemen and the preservation of its national principles."
Despite the destruction Yemen has been seeing over the past decade, many researchers say the uprising was a remarkable turning point that should be cherished.
Yemeni researcher Nabil Al-Bakiri and political commentator said in an article on the 13thanniversary of the 2011 uprising, "[The uprising] was a historical moment with all its circumstances, complexities and consequences today. No one has the right to cancel it from the history of Yemen, confiscate it, or even claim an exclusive right to it. It will remain a historical event subject to study and evaluation …"
Al-Bukairi added, "You have the right to hate that moment, and you have the right to love it as well, but you do not have the right to cancel it, bypass it, or erase it from history."