Ibrahim Jalal

Yemen’s Incomplete National Dialogue: Insights on the Design and Negotiations Dynamics

June 2022

“The Yemeni people have chosen the path of peaceful dialogue and reconciliation”, said the spokesperson for United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 18 March 2013 at the launch of the Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC).1 With the objectives of developing a roadmap for Yemen’s post-transitional process and resolving long-accumulated grievances and sub-national conflicts, the NDC concluded late without full resolution on 25 January 2014, after 10 months of deliberations. A few days earlier, Jamal Benomar, Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Yemen, had said “Yemen serves as a model for comprehensive national dialogue, based on transparency, inclusivity and active and meaningful participation of all political and social constituencies”.2 The NDC was also cheered as the Republic of Yemen’s most inclusive and constructive reconciliatory exercise by many international observers and civil society.3 However, despite those positive responses, the NDC left unfinished business and significant grievances while excluding several actors – and ended with a call to deal with unresolved and pressing issues after the NDC, for example, the shape of federalism.

Two days after the NDC’s closing ceremony, Stephen Day argued in Foreign Policy Magazine that “there is good reason to view the NDC’s closing ceremony as a non-conclusion, or at best, only a partial conclusion”.4 Another report claimed that the NDC “failed to find solutions to the most contentious issues”.5 Against this backdrop, and using the State-building Working Group (SBWG) as an example, this research debrief explores how the institutional design of the dialogue process shaped inclusivity, bargaining dynamics, and outcomes, using two illustrative cases: the source of legislation and the shape of the state. The author conducted and triangulated more than 15 semi-structured interviews with available primary and secondary sources. Interviewees comprised NDC participants, including from the SBWG, political scientists, Yemen and peacebuilding experts, civil society activists, observers, and senior diplomats present in Yemen at the time.

This research shows that despite great efforts and the useful practices adopted, the NDC’s institutional design and planning had practical flaws and inherited limitations. First, while the NDC might have been the most inclusive dialogue in Yemen’s recent history, the inclusion of some groups and grievances (i.e. Southern question, Sa’adah issue) while excluding other accumulating grievances and actors not only raised questions about the delegates’ selection criteria but also on how representative the conference actually was – and therefore the organizers’ intention to pursue a sustainable, comprehensive, national reconciliation.

Second, the dialogue and voting rules, meant to facilitate constructive deliberations, led to important issues at the SBWG hitting a deadlock. The institutional design allowed non-elite actors to meet traditional centers of power eye to eye and therefore, through consensus-building, push for the inclusion of some of their priorities. However, the deliberation process did not effectively facilitate resolution in the case of, for example, the discussion over the shape of the Yemeni state. At a structural level, the 50/50 north–south division of NDC seats, coupled with the overlapping mandates of the Southern Working Group and SBWG, contributed to consolidating the resistance of delegates with a southern background, thus causing a significant delay in SBWG discussions. On the one hand, the NDC regulations did not provide a solution to managing resistance in a constructive manner, including those manifested by southern delegates who constituted 50 per cent of the working groups. On the other hand, the overlap forced the SBWG to partly change its agenda, as discussions were restricted to generating a broader consensus on federalism, pending the inputs of the Southern Working Group.

Third, the failure to develop a feasible federalism model by the Southern Working Group and the subsequent formation of the 8+8 sub-committee indicate that the 50/50 northern–southern quota at the NDC, coupled with the large size of working groups, restricted tangible progress on vital issues. For the details of a federalist model to be referred to a Federalism Committee after the conclusion of the NDC was to acknowledge the limits of and gaps in the NDC’s institutional design, bargaining limits, and elitist exit strategies. This, in turn, reduced the influence and role of grassroots groups and the non-elite more broadly to adequately examine the proposed shape of federalism.

Fourth, despite the adoption of more than 1,800 recommendations conference-wide through consensus-building mechanisms, the way in which a federalism model was decided by a specialist committee after the NDC’s conclusion shows that the NDC’s conclusion was, in retrospect, a non-conclusion. In short, one of the NDC’s most vital issues remained unresolved during the NDC; instead, after the NDC’s closing ceremony, the ruling elite pushed their own solutions against reservations that were raised during the dialogue process. Ultimately, the circumvention of the NDC in resolving this crucial question contributed to derailing the transitional process. In particular, it provided ammunition for armed actors capable of and intent on undermining the dialogue’s outcomes to abandon the transitional process and continue resorting to violence in pursuit of their political goals, culminating in the brutal war that has waged in Yemen for more than seven years.

Despite better inclusivity, exclusion endured

Although the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative was elite-centric, the NDC was integral to the political transition roadmap set by the Initiative and supported the inclusion of youth movements and other political forces. The NDC’s Technical Perpetration Committee (TPC) – appointed by President Abdu Rabbuh Mansour Hadi on 14 July 2012, encompassing 25 people drawn from different groups and headed by Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Eryani – broadened and deepened civic participation to include actors not signatory to the GCC Initiative as per the implementation mechanism of the Initiative; however, this was not without flaws.6 In addition to the GCC Initiative’s signatories, the NDC, for example, granted civil society organizations (CSOs), youth, and women groups 40 seats each, thus together constituting 120/565 delegates. As a result, for the first time in Yemen’s recent history, the NDC created a forum in which armed actors, the traditional political and social elites, and grassroots groups could discuss issues of political relevance within an institutional framework.

Before the conference began, the TPC, in consultation with the UN, international experts, and represented parties, deliberated on issues including the actors to be represented, the size of delegations, the agenda and NDC discussion procedures, and the conference location. While the GCC Initiative’s implementation mechanism explicitly called for the representation of the Southern Movement (al-Hirak al-Janoubi, a movement formed in 2007 demanding the secession of Yemen’s south), the Houthis, and other political parties, the inclusion of looser formations such as youth and women groups or newly formed political parties required further deliberation. Despite the goal/ambitions to address long-accumulated grievances and build a new structure for the Yemeni state, the NDC focused on some grievances while overlooking other grievances and actors. While it ensured the inclusion of the Southern and Sa’adah causes as per the GCC Initiative, the conference abandoned, for example, the Tehami, Maribi, and Hadhrami causes.7 A year before the conference, in March 2012, thousands of Tehamis, including artists, academics, tribal figures, high-ranking officials, military commanders, and youth, staged the Karama (‘dignity’) sit-in in Bab al-Naqa, the entry point to Hodeidah when driving down the mountains from Sana’a.8 They appealed to the transitional government to include the Tehama cause within the NDC agenda to address over a century of accumulating grievances, and end the exploitation of the region. However, the NDC TPC’s rejection of the cause at a time of national reconciliation testifies to the broader failure to address all grievances in a systematic and fair manner.

There are two reasons for these shortcomings and systematic exclusion. First, the recognition of regional causes was largely driven by the level of perceived threat to the central regime’s stability.9 The higher the threat, the more likely the actor to be represented. The armed Houthi movement, which had waged six wars against the government between 2004 and 2010, joined with 35 seats on the condition of the state’s apology over its counterinsurgency campaigns, but without itself relinquishing medium and heavy arms. Several interviewees called out this Houthi engagement without abandoning political violence and arms a “strategic mistake”, citing the lack of concessions and incentives to change behavior.10

Second, the representation of grievances also partly depended on whether actors were able to garner disruptive public support over political violence. In this regard, the Southern Hirak’s ability to mobilize the public and disrupt politically – refusing to take part in the 2012 presidential elections even when the presidential candidate was a southerner himself, or partake in the NDC even when the conference allocated 50 per cent of seats for southerners to address perceived representation imbalance and acknowledged the primacy of the southern question in the NDC agenda – is a case in point. It is noteworthy that several southern movements were generally skeptical about the ruling elite in Sana’a, and therefore saw limited incentives to join the NDC despite the good intentions outlined by the TPC in the final report of 22 December 2012.11 The 20-point guarantees to prepare a conducive environment for dialogue included: the immediate re-employment of the forcibly or voluntarily retired from the civil and military sectors following the 1994 civil war; the return of looted assets, whether by influential individuals, groups, or the state; the release of Hirak prisoners and delivery of redress; and pushing those involved in the 1994 civil war to apologize publicly. The failure to implement some of these provisions further deepened mistrust and widened the gap in positions.

In terms of newly formed political parties, the irony of including Justice and Building Party (7 seats) while excluding, for example, the National Solidarity Party shows ambiguous inclusion and exclusion dynamics, thus raising questions on representation and inclusion criteria. Neither were mentioned in the TPC’s final report, however, which further suggests that the NDC Secretariat’s internal power dynamics and interests and those of President Hadi affected representation, including exclusion, in the run up to the launch of the conference in March 2013.12

As for delegates, they were selected in three ways. First, political parties, movements, and armed groups directly named their representatives. Second, the TPC made an application-and-nomination-based open call for seats for CSOs, youth, and women, in addition to looking for workshops supported by the European Union. Third, the Contact Committee directly contacted individuals to fill the president’s 62-seat list.13 Nevertheless, Southern Hirak and several other movements rejected taking part in the NDC. A section of the Southern Movement led by Mohammed Ali Ahmed, which was also close to President Hadi, were represented with 85 seats after the broader Hirak dismissed engagement with the NDC.14 Despite international calls, including the visit of the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accompanied by the United States, Russian, and European Union Ambassadors, many southern factions did not agree to participate in the country’s reconciliatory platform, thus making true, representative inclusion of southerners in the NDC a southern-made challenge, including the President, in spite of possession of 50 per cent of 565 seats.15

Notwithstanding the flaws in representation, the NDC remains a good illustration of the quest for more representative inclusion and political harnessing of non-elite groups. Two interviewees stated that the NDC’s large numbers paved the way for more youth, women, and CSOs to politically mature by engaging in high-level discussions with the ruling elite, political parties, tribal sheikhs, social figures, armed groups, and other actors, as well as develop a new generation of young leaders.16 Clearly, the impact of the institutional design on inclusion had both positive and negative impacts, which offer lessons for dialogue in conflict-affected zones.

Permissive but also restrictive dialogue design and dynamics

The NDC’s distribution of 565 delegates across nine working groups presented an opportunity for inclusive discussions. Each working group’s agenda was pre-set by the TPC.17 The TPC-designed conference set-up allowed non-elite delegates to assert their positions despite the opposition/resistance of the traditional political elite, which had larger representation at the conference. This was demonstrated by discussions around the source of legislation – with the institutional rules enabling non-elite actors to advocate that religion is ‘a’ source of legislation to influence deliberations, while restricting the influence of tribal and religious sheikhs who championed Islam as ‘the’ source of legislation.18 However, the NDC’s institutional design and negotiation rules – albeit at times inadvertent and gradual, such as referring unresolved issues to the Chairman of the NDC, President Hadi, to further deliberate – equally created a restrictive and contradictory setting, thus curtailing the space for and role of grassroots/non-elite, which was also demonstrated by the debate on the particulars of federalism.

Progressive grassroots and non-elite actors, particularly youth and women, used the NDC as a space to voice their opinions and advocate for civil rights while pushing for recommendations that would limit the old elite’s influence. Non-elite actors pursued this endeavor despite clear resistance from conservative parties and asserted themselves in part due to the defined voting rules, which were clearly and proactively exhibited with the vote on how a future constitution should define the source of legislation.19

In a first voting round, 10 per cent (a minimum of 7/55) of the SBWG delegates – mainly from Yemen’s largest Islamist party, Islah, and the armed Houthi movement – opposed the phrasing of Islam being merely ‘a’ source rather than ‘the’ source of legislation. The issue thus required further deliberation. The Consensus Committee, which comprised the NDC Presidency and the chairs of each working group, tasked with resolving controversial issues at committees in instances of, for example, prevailing disagreements, held private negotiations with opposing actors in a bid to develop common ground.20 After negotiations rounds with the leadership of delegations opposing the proposal and lobbying by non-elites, particularly youth and women, they managed to reach a compromise with those including the chief of the Houthi SBWG delegation, Dr. Ahmed Sharaf al-Deen, eventually voting in favor of the proposal.21 Finally, the clause passed in a second vote with more than 75 per cent support, demonstrating how lobbying and issue-based alliances were able to maneuver within the rules to change voting behavior and garner support.22 The duality of ideas discussed between conservatives and progressives on ‘source of legislation’ made negotiations less complex, compared to federalism, which had many proposals.

Despite clear results in the second round of voting, the majority of delegates faced slander and defamation campaigns. Unhappy with the outcome of voting on religious grounds, Islah’s delegate Kamal Bamakhramah wrote an open letter, ‘Urgent Call to Each Yemeni Muslim’, decrying and defaming the proponents of the language of “a source” and calling the public to protect the country from the “decision” to “perpetuate and legitimize polytheism with God”.23 This move, further endorsed by Mohammed Abdul Majeed al-Zandani, son of prominent Islahi leader Sheikh Abdul Majeed, triggered controversy and outrage inside and outside the NDC. To end this escalation, SBWG, with colleagues in solidarity, protested about the move to the NDC Secretariat, which in turn discontinued Bamakhramah’s membership from the NDC over gross misconduct.24 This episode captures two important dynamics: first, this expulsion shows that the NDC leadership prioritized constructive expression of views and cohesion among delegates; and second, it equally demonstrated how protests outside the NDC were used as a means to amplify voices and indirectly engage non-delegates to publicly discuss issues of importance.

By comparison, federalism discussions were moot, both at SBWG and the Southern Working Group. In particular, the overlapping mandates of the two working groups over the shape of the state caused confusion and eventually slowed down the pace of dialogue in the former. Many of the southern SBWG delegates put federalism discussions on hold until outcomes on the topic emerged from the Southern Working Group. Given that the Southern Working Group was tasked to discuss the shape of the state with the backdrop of the demands for secession stemming from the south, some delegates may have perceived it to be primarily the Southern Working Group’s responsibility to address the question of federalism – or, put differently, the broader shape of the state.25 Therefore, southern SBWG delegates wanted to hold off discussions to avoid developing contradictory positions. As a result, SBWG was slow-moving in the first quarter of the NDC, with delegates focusing on other issues.26

Meanwhile, the Southern Working Group could not make progress due to strong opinions on the number of regions a federal state should be divided into, as well as diverse opinions on secession held by southern delegates. Points of conflicts included propositions such as an agreement to federalism as a first stage leading to southern secession after a minimum of five years or a two-region federalism, with the south forming its own region. In the conference, the Houthis emphasized that they required a division that would grant them access to the sea, while also pushing an anti-federalist discourse outside of the conference. For instance, Mohammed Ali Ahmed’s Hirak faction wanted a two-region federalism at best. The Nasserite party, the General People’s Congress, and the Islah Party preferred a federalist system of more than two regions, while youth and women delegates championed multiple approaches to federalism.27 Failure to harmonize these ideas, compared with the clear binary in the case of the source of legislation, eventually meant the federalism discussions were inconclusive.

In the case of federalism, the institutional design of the NDC – most notably the formula of seat quotas (in view of mistrust towards the ruling elite), controversial support for more than two-region federalism in the south, and the multiplicity of federalism models – did not aid adequate unpacking and harmonization of differences. The fact that 50 per cent of delegates were from Yemen’s south and that 75 per cent of votes were required to pass a proposal in the second voting round meant that, taking into consideration hard-headed ideas, negotiations on the shape of the state reached a deadlock, both at SBGW and eventually the Southern Working Group. As noted earlier, in the event of failure to pass ideas in the second round, the role of the Consensus Committee increased to narrow down differences, or come up with alternative solutions, which in this case was a micro committee.

Although most interviewees noted that the size of the working groups – approximately 55 delegates at SBGW or 40 at the Southern Working Group – did not influence the quality and direction of talks, the formation of the 8+8 sub-committee on 10 September 2013 to converge divergent opinions on the shape of the state, or the southern question, suggests otherwise. The 8+8 committee encompassed a total of 16 senior politicians with limited youth and grassroots representation following the same 50/50 formula between the south and north. This meant a decline in representation and less space for youth and women, but with more focused discussions.28

Not only did the UN Special Envoy Jamal Benomar facilitate the formation of the 8+8 to allow represented stakeholders to have a better, more-focused dialogue and reduce unnecessary disruptions undermining limited progress but he also attended the 8+8 discussions alongside the NDC’s Secretary-General Ahmed Awadh Bin Mubarak. This eventually led to the signing of the ‘Agreement on a Just Solution to the Southern Question’ on 23 December 2013.29 The agreement, consistent with the direction of SBWG, adopted federalism as a shape of the state. However, this did not detail the structure of federalism, the distribution of power and wealth, and power relations due to deep-seated differences. Although the space for talks became more elitist with the shrinking number of delegates, which reduced the engagement of civil society and grassroots, it was easier for the UN Envoy, NDC Secretariat, and Consensus Committee to develop the minimum level of understanding among the 8+8 team. The vague understanding delayed substantive talks on federalism until after the NDC’s conclusion.

NDC outcomes, but the federalism model delayed

The SBWG was able to develop consensus over more than 150 provisions. These included: state identity; the separation of powers and their duties; the electoral and administrative systems, including the empowerment of women through a 30 per cent quota system; and formation of new institutions such as the Federalism Council and National Assembly. On the issue of the source of legislation, youth and women’s groups, CSOs, political parties and movements, and the Houthi movement were able to reach an agreement that Islam is a source of legislation, while reaffirming the primacy of an institutions-based modern, civic, democratic state in Yemen.30 Taking into account the opposition of conservative parties and subsequent defamation campaigns, the vote passed a 75 per cent majority after some formerly opposing actors changed their vote following engagement with the Consensus Committee and lobbying from young groups.

Despite relative success on less controversial and divisive issues, the working group’s core agenda of federalism – critical for Yemen’s future – was far from concluded during the NDC. The principle of federalism was only agreed following almost 10 months of dialogue, thus delaying one of the most critical issues until after the conclusion of the NDC, in essence making the NDC “a non-conclusion”.31 The elite-dominated ‘NDC Outcomes Document’ was finally released on 25 January 2014. But responses to federalism were not universally positive. One interviewee noted that the Houthis were not supportive of federalism, despite Sharaf al-Deen’s push otherwise. Sharaf Al-Deen was shot and killed by unknown gunmen while en route to sign the NDC document on behalf of the Houthis on 21 January 2014.32

The NDC document “commit[ed] to a just solution of the Southern Question within a unified State, on the basis of federalism and democracy … This new federal state shall represent a complete break from the history of conflict, oppression, abuse of power and monopoly of wealth”.33 Mustafa Naji, a former Yemeni diplomat and a social sciences researcher, pointed out that “federalism was President Hadi’s mega project for the future of Yemen. He used the external support present, thinking decisions would eventually be accepted by other domestic actors”.34 However, the federalism negotiations, having failed to reach consensus within the conference, were referred to the Chairman of the NDC, President Hadi. SBWG acknowledged that there was “a consensus on some decisions and recommendations, some were referred to the Consensus Committee, and others to the Chairman of the NDC”.35

To this end, President Hadi formed a 21-person Federalism Committee tasked with examining a six-region federalism model on 27 January 2014.36 On 10 February 2014, the committee reportedly reached a consensus and agreed that Yemen’s federal structure would encompass six regions – Hadhramaut, Sheba, Tehama, al-Janad, Aden, and Azal – two of which were in the south and four in the north, in line with the president’s initial direction.37 Although President Hadi and the NDC Secretariat justified the six-region federalism model with scientific, political, economic, and social studies, the proposed model did not necessarily reflect such criteria, especially in terms of natural resources and distribution of power and wealth.38 Not only were the justifications for the six-region federalism opaque but also the president dismissed external inputs expressing reservations in view of inadequate buy-in for the six-region proposal – which were not necessarily about the notion of federalism.

A few diplomats privately expressed their reservation to President Hadi over his six-region federalism model, citing feasibility issues and implications for stability in Yemen.39 Furthermore, the model did not accommodate multiple demands, realities, and/or interests. Researcher Nadwa al-Dawsari, for instance, pointed out that six-region federalism left two regions – Sheba (Marib, al-Jawf, and al-Bayda) and Azal (Sana’a, Sa’adah, Dhamar, and Amran) – landlocked, and therefore partly charted a way for unequal distribution of resources.40 This was in addition to abandoning the Houthi demand of access to a seaport, which multiple interviewees believed would be used to smuggle arms, citing the seizure of the Iranian smuggled Jehan Tanker in mid-2012.41

Most interviewees suggested that delegates were meaningfully engaged in decision-making, except for controversial issues such as the case of federalism, which was relegated to after the conclusion of the NDC due to the stalemate noted at both the Southern Work Group and the 8+8 sub-committee.42 “People should have been given a choice to vote on the numbers of federal regions through a referendum, given that the NDC agreed on federalism as a general structure. However, it failed to go further”, Mustafa Naji noted. That was not the case; the constituents were not given a chance to express their views on the number of federal regions at the time.


An overview of the NDC’s design and its implications on representation, bargaining dynamics, and outcomes shows several flaws and limitations which must be understood in order to learn for future dialogue in Yemen – especially given that conflict has only heightened since the NDC. At a broad level, SBWG’s core agenda, critical for the country’s future, was far from accomplished during the NDC, although the working group reached consensus on over more than 150 provisions. The dialogue over federalism was eventually elite-dominated, despite the inclusion of a section of grassroots actors. This marked a departure from intra-elite dialogue observed in the GCC Initiative negotiations, which were at a middle point between top–down and bottom–up approaches. Two cases – the source of legislation and federalism – demonstrated that the design of the NDC was both enabling and restrictive at the same time. While non-elites, including grassroots actors, were able to push for the adoption of many ideas, such as the source of legislation through negotiations, the most crucial decisions, such as the details of federalism, for instance, were made by the ruling elite after the NDC.

There were also several outstanding issues. First, tabling the southern question and Sa’adah issues while excluding many other grievances from the NDC’s agenda shows that prioritization and acknowledgement of grievances were heavily driven by the extent of the perceived threat to the stability of the regime, but not to the country’s dire need to reconcile grievances and pave a new way for a just Yemen. This flaw must not be repeated and must instead be averted in future dialogues eyeing a sustainable resolution to Yemen’s multifaceted conflicts. Second, the exclusion of some newly formed political parties while including others, such as the Justice and Building Party, raise questions about the selection and representation criteria. Selective inclusion particularly emphasizes the importance of technocratic leadership to ensure checks and balances amid mounting political pressures and elitist personal preferences. Third, by exploring how the source of legislation and the shape of state were negotiated at SBWG and how the latter’s case overlapped with the mandate of the Southern Working Group, it is increasingly evident that the rules were more functional with fewer controversial issues and options. In particular, getting a section of conservative parties to agree that Islam is a source of legislation while the NDC document affirmed the importance of a civic Yemeni state illustrates how grassroots actors and civil society, with the support of more progressive parties and their international backers, were able negotiate their proposals and counter traditional centers of power.

However, the overlap over federalism, or more accurately the shape of the state, between SBWG and the Southern Working Group’s mandates reveals a structural flaw in the NDC’s design, which in light of the formation of the 8+8 sub-committee curtailed the role of bottom–up peacebuilding forces in favor of the ruling elite. The peak of technical, structural, and political limitations surfaced when the NDC was concluded without a decision on the shape of federalism after 10 months of intensive dialogue. And the peak of elite dominance surfaced when the Federalism Committee, tasked with exploring the feasibility of a six-region federalism, declared a six-regional federalism model within two weeks of formation.

Moving forward, this study contributes to a nuanced understanding of the challenges and limitations within the NDC, with an array of practical lessons to learn from for national dialogues in fragile and conflict-affected states. However, it is worth noting that an analysis of dynamics within the NDC is inadequate to explain the collapse of the transitional peace process. To acknowledge realpolitik, in SBWG member Badr Baslama’s term in response to why the transitional process collapsed, “It was crystal clear that the NDC was plan B to several actors, not A”.43

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  1. UN, “Secretary-General, Welcoming Launch of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, Pledges Continuing United Nations Engagement with All Sides,” 18 March 2013. https://bit.ly/3Dqyq6a.[]
  2. UN, “Senior UN official congratulates Yemen on concluding National Dialogue,” 21 January 2014. https://bit.ly/3hz2Biz.[]
  3. Gaston, E., “Process Lessons Learned in Yemen’s National Dialogue,” 2014. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace; Elayah, M., et al., “National dialogues as an interruption of civil war – the case of Yemen.” 2020. Peacebuilding, pp. 98-117.[]
  4. Day, W. Stephen, “The ‘Non-Conclusion’ of Yemen’s National Dialogue,” Foreign Policy, 26 January 2014. https://bit.ly/3v0SGsg.[]
  5. Helen Lackner, “Yemen’s ‘Peaceful’ Transition from Autocracy: Could it have succeeded?,” 2016. Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.[]
  6. National Center for Information, “Text of Presidential Decree No. 30 of 2012 establishing the Technical Committee for the Preparation and Preparation of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference – July 14, 2012,” https://yemen-nic.info/sectors/politics/trans/law9.php.; The GCC Initiative was signed between the General People’s Congress (GPC) and its partners, together known as the National Coalition, and the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and its partners, also known as the National Council in November 2011.[]
  7. Author interview with al-Dawsari in August 2021, Interview ID: 1.[]
  8. Al-Masdar Online, “Thousands of Tihamis carry out a vigil warning the government and land-looting gangs in ‘Bab el-Naqa’,” March 2012. https://bit.ly/3rHokez.[]
  9. Author interview with Professor of Political Science Dr Galal Fakirah on 26 September 2021, interview ID: 2.[]
  10. Ibid; author interview with a SBWG delegate on 2 August 2021, interview ID: 3.[]
  11. Yemen Press, “The text of the final report of the Preparatory Committee for the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference,” December 2012. https://yemen-press.net/news16306.html; to see the 20 points, read the full report.[]
  12. Ibid.[]
  13. Author interview with the NDC’s Deputy Secretary-General Dr Afrah al-Zouba on 23 September 2021, Interview ID: 4. The contact committee conducted discussions with many political factions to persuade them join the NDC and identified “not politically formed and politically identifiable” individuals to be in the picture. Check also ‘Interview with Abdul Karim al-Eryani’ at https://bit.ly/3BwNrCL.[]
  14. Fraihat, I., “Unfinished Revolutions: Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia after the Arab Spring,” Yale: Yale University Press. 2016. See p. 43.[]
  15. Author interviews with the Former Minister of Transport and Member of SBWG and the 8-8 Southern question sub-committee, Badr Baslamah, on 26 September 2021, interview ID: 5; and former US Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Firestein on 3 October 2021, interview ID: 6; Kuna.net, “British official concludes short visit to Yemen,” 5 March 2012. https://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2225313&Language=en.[]
  16. Author interviews with Yemeni researcher Nadwa al-Dawsari on 24 September 2021, interview ID: 7; and Yemeni researcher Yazeed al-Jeddawy on 25 August 2021, interview ID: 8; al-Wazeer, A., “Yemen’s Independent Youth and Their Role in the National Dialogue Conference,” 2013. Berlin: German Institute for International and Security Affairs, https://bit.ly/3oQu3gv. See p.4.[]
  17. Author interview with the NDC’s Deputy Secretary-General.[]
  18. Author interview with Yemeni researcher and former diplomat Mustafa al-Jebzi on 12 August 2021, interview ID: 9.[]
  19. Barring a 10% or more opposition to a proposed idea, it would be passed, but if 10% or more opposition was recorded, the proposal would have to secure 75% votes in a second voting round. In the event of persisting disagreements and/or tensions, issues can be referred to the Consensus Committee. Formed on 2 June 2013 as per Presidential Decree No. 41, the Consensus Committee encompassed NDC Presidency and the Chairs of each committee with the aims of resolving controversial issues at each committee in instances of failing to reach an agreement, consulting members of the committee to bridge gaps, and follow the implementation of NDC outcomes. For more information, check NDC Consensus Committee at; see also Thania Paffenholz and Nick Ross, “Inclusive Political Settlements: New Insights from Yemen’s National Dialogue,” March 2016. https://bit.ly/3oJszVw.[]
  20. The National Center for Information, “Presidential Decree No. (41) of 2013 to form the Conciliation Committee for the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference,” 2 June 2013. https://yemen-nic.info/db/laws_ye/detail.php?ID=69167;[]
  21. Author interviews with SBWG delegate Sahar Ghanem in October 2021, interview ID: 10; and NDC delegate Hamza al Kamaly in July 2021, interview IDs: 11; author interview with the Secretary-General of Nasserite Party and Deputy Chair of SBWG Rana Ghanem in September 2021, interview ID: 12.[]
  22. Author interview with a SBWG delegate on 14 September 2021, interview ID: 13; information corroborated by two other delegates.[]
  23. Nashwan News, “Member of the Dialogue Conference Sheikh Kamal Bamakhrama makes an urgent appeal to Yemenis to save the identity of the Islamic State (text),” 17 July 2013. https://bit.ly/3Dr5fQr.[]
  24. Author interview with Rana Ghanem.[]
  25. Author interview with Baslamah.[]
  26. Author interview with Rana Ghanem.[]
  27. Author interview with a senior GPC figure in SBWG on 23 December 2015, interview ID: 14.[]
  28. Al Masdar Online, ““Al-Masdar Online” publishes the text of the Jamal Benomar mechanism for addressing the regions and their borders,” 21 December 2013. https://almasdaronline.com/article/52975.[]
  29. NDC Secretariat-General, “Outcome of The Subcommittee of The Southern Working Group: Agreement on a Just Solution to The Southern Question,” 23 December 2013. https://bit.ly/3vcG8y5.[]
  30. See pp. 44-75, “National Dialogue Conference Outcomes Document,” The Republic of Yemen. https://www.peaceagreements.org/masterdocument/1400.[]
  31. Day, W. Stephen, “The ‘Non-Conclusion’ of Yemen’s National Dialogue.”[]
  32. BBC, “Yemen’s national dialogue conference concludes with agreement,” 21 January 2014. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25835721.[]
  33. Ibid. See p. 43.[]
  34. Author interview with Mustafa.[]
  35. Ibid.[]
  36. Al-Bayan, “Hadi Forms a Committee to Specify Federal Regions,” 28 January 2021. https://www.albayan.ae/one-world/arabs/2014-01-28-1.2050265.[]
  37. France 24, “Yemen: Adopting a six-region federalism structure for the Yemeni federal state,” 10 February 2014. https://bit.ly/3B7l8Lh.[]
  38. Author interview with Amb. Gerald.[]
  39. Author interview with a high-level western diplomat on 2 August 2021, interview ID: 15; interview with Amb. Gerald.[]
  40. Author interviews with Mustafa, Nadwa and Firestein; author interview with a Yemen observer on 4 August 2021, interview ID: 16.[]
  41. Ibid; author interview with a professor of political science on 29 July 2021, interview ID: 17.[]
  42. Author interviews with multiple respondents and an NDC delegate in October, interview ID: 18.[]
  43. Author interview with Baslamah.[]
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Yemen Policy Newsletter