May 23, 2016
Status: Unrecognized territory
Population: ~ 5 million
Area: ~ 333,000 km2
Capital City: Aden
Language: Arabic, Mehri, Soqotri, Hobi, Shehri, South Arabian
UNPO REPRESENTATION: Southern Democratic Assembly (TAJ) for Self-Determination for South Arabia’s People
South Arabia is represented at UNPO by the Southern Democratic Assembly for Self-Determination for South Arabia’s People. They were admitted to UNPO as a member on 29 April 2016. TAJ was founded in March 2014. Two months later, the founding members of the organization declared their statutes and vision in London, United Kingdom. TAJ has the vision to regain South Arabia and to work with the international community to ensure stability in the region.
UNPO MEMBER PERSPECTIVE
TAJ aims at restoring the state of South Arabia as it existed until the country’s unification with the Yemen Arab Republic in 1990. It advocates immediate Southern independence and wants to achieve this goal through political and peaceful means. TAJ hopes that the implementation of a multi-party democratic system for South Arabia and self-determination will bring an end to discrimination and oppression of the people of Southern Yemen.
TAJ stands for:
– peace, justice and democracy for the people of South Arabia
– the peaceful struggle to end the Yemeni military/tribal occupation and terrorism
– building a modern state based on democratic principles and the rule of law, with better services for the people of South Arabia
– human rights and equality for all
Since the unification of Southern and Northern Yemen and the civil war in 1994, the people of South Arabia have been systematically marginalized and persecuted by the Northerners-dominated government in Sanaa. The regime's proclaimed goal of a unificiation of the whole of Yemen was, in fact, a state-promoted policy of systematic discrimination of the people of South Arabia. Immediately after the Yemeni army – supported by foreign extremists – had invaded and occupied the South, their military forces destroyed all of the South’s institutions, looted public and private properties, and forcibly removed 85 percent of the South’s civil servants, military officers and diplomats from their positions.
In the years that followed, the systematic discrimination of the people of South Arabia continued and even intensified. Even though the country has extensive natural resource endowments, revenues from the extraction of oil and gas go exclusively to the North. Rather than investing in a sustainable socio-economic development of the South, corrupt government officials in the North heedlessly line their own pockets. Meanwhile, the people of South Arabia suffer from governmental neglect and poverty. They are deprived of even the most basic services, such as access to clean water, housing, health care, education, electricity and adequate infrastructure.
Peaceful protests against this discrimination, suppression and the military occupation of South Arabia were brutally cracked down on by the military. In 2007, these protests led to the formation of the Southern Peaceful Movement, which is committed to South Arabia’s peaceful political quest for freedom in the region and independence for a South Arabian state in accordance with international law.
In March 2015, Houthi gunmen invaded the South and launched a war against civilians in a number of areas, further deteriorating the Yemeni imbroglio and leading to scores of Southern Arabians fleeing abroad out of fear for their personal safety.
The region’s history goes back at least five thousand years. While in Roman times the area was known as Arabia Felix, it later became part of the Umayyad Caliphate. However, it nonetheless remained an independent region until eventually the South Arabia Peninsula Sheikhdoms and Sultanates emerged; 23 quasi-independent entities which shared a common culture, customs and traditions. Its people all spoke Arabic languages and belonged to Arab tribes, while emigrants from India, Pakistan, Somalia and Persia soon integrated with the indigenous population. Almost the entire population of South Arabia belonged to the moderate strand of Sunni Islam.
In 1839, South Arabia came under British colonial rule. The colonial masters supported the Sultanates’ and Sheikhdoms’ decision to unite to the South Arabia Foundation in 1959. In 1967, local rulers formed a State out of the British Colony of Aden and the former Protectorate of South Arabia. After the country’s independence, the radical Marxist wing of the National Liberation Front, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), took over the federation. YSP established a totalitarian regime by banning all other parties and changed the country’s name from South Arabia to South Yemen, and later to Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen.
The country’s relations with their Yemeni brethren to the North proved to be problematic from the very beginning. North Yemen, formerly the Yemen Arab Republic, came into being as a State after a violent civil war (1962-69), but never succeeded in establishing full territorial sovereignty. Relations between the two Yemeni States oscillated between peaceful and hostile, and – though peripheral – the region was one of the many Cold War battlegrounds, with the South receiving strong support from the Eastern Bloc. After tensions escalated in a short war in 1972, it was decided that both states would eventually unite in negotiations brokered by the Arab League. It was only in May 1990, however, that the two hitherto separate entities merged to form the Republic of Yemen – partly due to the collapse of South Yemen’s financial patron, the Soviet Union.
At first, the unification was met with enthusiasm and – especially among Southerners – hopes were high that it would bring progress and socio-economic development. However, disillusionment set in soon, in particular due to economic mismanagement by the central government and increasing marginalization of Southern administrative centres. To establish a centralized administration and territory-wide State control proved to be a difficult task, as the new State failed to integrate institutions. Furthermore, the implementation of a monetary union was never realized because of the failure to adopt a single currency.
The situation increasingly worsened and tensions eventually erupted in 1993 when it became clear that the unity was not on a solid ground. The ensuing short, but devastating civil war of 1994 resulted in the defeat of the Southern armed forces and the flight into exile of many Southern leaders, thereby “cementing Sanaa’s rule and Aden’s decline”. The war had far-reaching consequences for the Southern population and further increased their marginalization and exclusion from political positions. While government posts had previously been distributed evenly between Southerners and Northerners, now blatant clientelism prevails, which demands unreserved loyalty to the government in exchange for public offices.