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The international community should recognize the Shia Houthis government in Northern Yemen

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3 points
nzlockienzlockie (PRO)
Welcome to the final of this New Year's Debate Tournament! 
Today's resolution is a topical one, that the International Community should recognise the Shiite Houthis government in Yemen. It's pretty self-explanitory, but let's begin this round with some quick definitions.
The International Community - generally, the community of independent Nations. For practical purposes, this could mean the United Nations. 
should recognise - the recognition of a new government is a funny thing. Basically, when you take over a country, you don't exist until the rest of the world says you do. There's a process detailed here, but basically this term is defined as being, "should acknowledge and accept as rightful".
the Shiite Houthis government - a new government, set up in Northern Yemen by a religious/political group of Shiite Muslims who have followed their founder,Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. You can read an account of their fascinating history and rise to power here.  
in Yemen. - A delightful little Arabic country with a long and fractured past. Specifically this resolution centres not on Yemen entirely , but on the Northern part which the Houthi government claim to hold. This Saada  province was ceded to them during the confusing nationwide uprising in 2011. 

The 411 on this whole Northern Yemen thing:
OK, this is a very brief, very generalised overview of the situation in Northern Yemen. I invite my opponent to correct any areas where he thinks I might be being unfair. My intention is not to persuade validity in this instance, merely to inform the judges as to the events pertinent to the Houthi claim of self-governance for the Saada province.
Yemen as a country can be broadly split into two sections. The Northern part is high and mountainous, while the Southern part is lowlands.  The country is traditionally tribal, with family tribes tracing their lineage back thousands of years. As is the case in mountainous countries like this, thanks to the terrain making access hard, tribal roots remain very strong, especially in the north. 

Side by side, it is evident that the division is largely topographical. 

There are several things that broker peace between tribes in Yemen, and one of these is Religion. Again generalising, the north is largely Shiite Muslim while the south is predominantly Sunni Muslim. It should be pointed out the differences between these two divisions are not as extreme as in other parts of the world. Especially between the Houthi and the Sunni, which are actually pretty similar. For the most part, the two branches of Islam have been able to peacefully coexist for ages. It should also be pointed out, in case it comes up later, that Saudi Arabia to the north is heavily Sunni. (in both senses of the word - haha, see what I did there?) 
In fact the Saudis were actively involved during the uprisings of 2004-2010. You can see why the Shiite North might start feeling a little picked on.

In 2004, a group of rebels, called the Houthi after their leader, violently protested against the reining government, who they said were oppressing their freedom of religion. A series of minor conflicts ensued between the Houthi and the Government in the Northern province of Saada over the next 6 years or so, until peace was declared, (without any clear victor) by the government in 2010. In 2011, the Houthi "rebels" joined with thousands of other Yemeni, Shiite and Sunni, to protest the presidency of  President Ali Abdullah Saleh. They were even joined by the most powerful man in the Yemeni Armed Forces, the President's own cousin, MajGen Ali Mohsen - the very man who they had been fighting for the last 6 years! 
With the eventual eviction of the president, some of the new, all-inclusive Yemeni government, which included representatives from the Houthi, wanted to create a six state federation of Yemen. The Houthi disagreed. They'd had enough of being ruled by the lowlands and elected to form their own government of the Northern Province of Saada and declare independence.
After all, they've done it before; the Houthi are members of the Zaidi doctrine, a branch which successfully ruled Yemen for 1000 years, only recently ending their rule in 1962. 

Phew - there's a lot of detail I've skipped there which, if my opponent would like to, we can discuss during later rounds. But I think this paints a good general picture to start us off. 

The vibe I'm looking for you to take from this is that the Houthi have not claimed this government from greed, but rather from a desire to live their lives with religious freedom. They have more cultural ties internally with the tribes in Northern Yemen than they do with the lower section of South Yemen. Culturally and geographically, it is easy to separate Northern and Southern Yemen. Although they fought against the previous government of Yemen during the period of 2004-2010, the fact that they were united with their chief opponent, as well as many senior officials, in ousting the former president proves that their "beef" was not with the current government, but with the outgoing one. All they're saying is, "no. enough. let us rule ourselves."

In terms of International Recognition on its own merits - this one is a slam dunk. The UN has recognised far worst governments than this, which I'm happy to bring up in later rounds. 
Precedent has been set, and there's really no valid reason why this new government should not be recognised.

Why should they be recognised?
There are no strict criteria when it comes to why a new government should be recognised. It usually comes down to, "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" - and our side of the house thinks that sucks
In the case of North Yemen, the outgoing government left a severely broken country behind. The new government was formed and tasked with the job of repairing this. It is no exaggeration to say that they are drafting up an entirely new country. A new constitution is being ratified and there has even been talk of forming a federation of independent states. 
The Houthi, who have committed more than perhaps anyone in the struggle to rid Yemen of the previous ineffective government, have submitted a vote of no confidence in the new government. They have the model for a successful government in the old system of Imam rule, which guided Yemen through 1000 years. They are culturally and geographically distinct.
The UN supports self-rule as a principle and the International Community should support the Houthi by recognising their government. 

Vote PRO - we support freedom from oppression.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-12 20:51:31
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I thank my opponent for opening this debate.

Pro spent almost all of their case describing the situation in Yemen, and maybe about three or four sentences actually arguing the resolution. This gives me surprisingly little to rebut. It comes down to two points: first, that precedent exists, and second, that self-rule is great. Despite not really analyzing either of those ideas in depth, I intend to use this round thoroughly rebutting each of these claims.

Precedent Exists
This is hardly grounds for recognizing the existence of a country. Precedent also exists for the Mongol Empire to rule most of Asia, but any random Mongolian who makes such a proposal to the United Nations would likely be laughed out of the building. Similarly the Papal States once controlled much of Italy. Should we bring back the Incan and Aztec Empires too in the name of precedent? Reform the Roman Empire perhaps?

This is the inherent problem with precedent: times change, precedent doesn't.

In 1994, some folks established the Democratic Republic of Yemen and seceded, not wanting the unification to happen. They would be willing to forgo the massive economic advantages of unification (which essentially amounted to allowing oil exploration along the border, enriching both the north and the south - although some in the South believe too much wealth is shared with the North) in the name of not tolerating foreign cultures as part of their culture. The international community was not impressed and didn't recognize their government (especially since this same international community had been overwhelmingly in favor of unifying both Yemens). Precedent exists for a movement just like this one being not recognized. No precedent exists for the recognition of any movement like this. The original two Yemens were not created through any such system, but merely because they split off from different empires - relations between the two Yemens were, for the most part, amiable. The movement to re-establish the two Yemens was quickly defeated.

We have more recent precedent of such secessionist movements being recognized, but this recognition turning out poorly, in the case of Sudan. The resulting fight over money, oil and weapons has only seen conflict there escalate, not diminish. On side negative, we believe similar consequences happen in most such movements to establish independent states and just demand international recognition out of "precedent". Recent experience also shows that even very successful attempts at establishing independent states out of a once much larger one, such as the Ukraine, often results in an escalation of tensions in the long term. Despite being extremely friendly neighbours and not formed out of any secessionist movement, even the two Yemens were not immune to this effect, briefly coming to a war between the north and south in the 1970s.

Overall, this is a silly reason to recognize a government anyway, and even if it wasn't, there is much stronger precedent for not allowing it to happen than for allowing it to happen.

Self-Rule Is Great
My opponent has no justification for why self-rule is this fantastic thing. He has simply asserted that this is what the UN wants.

This is far from the case. Abkhazia, Transnistria and numerous other countries would very much like independance but the UN says nah. In the case of Transnistria, not a single UN member state - even Russia, who usually recognize any breakaway state in their former territories - will recognize them. So it's clear that the nations of the world recognize that self-rule has its limits. The question is whether these limits also apply in the case of a breakaway group in part of Yemen. We know they do because this has been decided by the UN before, but suppose we didn't. In that case, this issue requires an examination of what roles a state should fulfil.

The most apparent form of self-rule is anarchy - the idea that we all rule ourselves and have nobody else tell us what to do. The reason people band together in tribes and nations is for their own protection and economic advantage. In this case it is clear cut. Yemen is wealthier united than independant - indeed, this was the reason they banded together in the first place. And protection is hardly to be gained from erecting additional borders between peoples who are, for the most part, happily co-existing. Sudan is a lesson the international community has learnt from, and there the reason they did it was in hopes of settling their civil war. Ensuring security is likewise the reason al-Qaeda in Yemen will never be recognized by the international community as an independent state despite the fact that they control plenty of territory.

Lets look at what the Houthi insurgents have done. In the name of "ending discrimination" against their part of Yemen (this is actually their justification for why they should impose Shia law on everybody), the Houthi have launched attacks against most of the country. Funded by Iran and opposed by Saudi Arabia (and the US by extension), the Houthi government would be quite different from the North Yemen of old - a violent state with clear aggression towards the south and an incentive to continue fighting against what they perceive as injustice. It is not my position in this debate to judge whether this is a valid objection or not, but fighting injustice with more injustice does not create justice. The civilians caught in the crossfire of this war have wronged nobody. The 400 or so children whom the Houthis forced to fight (and who staged the protest in Sana'a) wronged nobody. With the new dissolution of parliament, it appears quite clear that the Houthis, for their part, desire to take control of the entire country, as opposed to only the northern part of it, so recognizing the border would be arbitrary now anyway. Likewise the Sunnis in the south have reason now to not like the Houthis very much. It's much the same social climate as created the Rwandan genocide.

We recognize self-rule, much like international governments, only when that is in the best interests of the peoples involved. There was no problem with the old yemen, and even if there was, this is not a good solution to the problem.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-15 03:15:32
| Speak Round
admin: In what circumstances do you believe the UN does not support self rule, and why?
nzlockie: While self rule seems to still be the "preferred" option of the UN, the spirit of the UN would not support an IMPOSITION of self rule on a region that didn't want it. For example, the Falklands.
nzlockie: As for why that is, I believe that comes down to the UN's charter of human rights. Most of their decision making is weighed against this.
nzlockie: There are other instances where I think the UN would not support self rule, but these are political in nature, and have little to do with the idealistic spirit of the organisation. Corruption and self interest exists everywhere.
nzlockie: Do you agree that the Houthi are justified in a vote of no confidence in the current Yemeni regime?
nzlockie: And if so, is declaring independence a valid alternative to working WITH the existing government?
admin: No. They are not justified.
nzlockie: Thanks. assuming I could present convincing evidence that they ARE justified, would you then concede that their independence is something that should be recognised?
admin: It depends on the justification, specifically on whether that justification also warrants a claim on independence. For example, precedent can be loosely called a "justification", but it's a very poor one for claims of independence.
nzlockie: fair enough, I'll have to make it convincing then. Maybe one more question for this CX then, what is the primary role of government?
admin: To protect its citizens from harm.
nzlockie: Thanks! No further questions!

Return To Top | Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (PRO)
I'd like to thank my opponent for his round, and the Judges for their continued interest in this debate. 

The motion before us today argues that the current state of Yemen should split back to its original borders. Two separate sovereign states, North Yemen to be governed by the Houthi government. It argues that the International Community should endorse this division by officially recognising the new state of North Yemen and its Houthi government.
(Stag would no doubt appreciate my mentioning that this was not the original intent of his resolution, unfortunately that's the way it was taken. Both sides of the house have agreed that this is what we're arguing now. Sorry Stag.)

My opponent has correctly pointed out that our first round argument was high on intent and low on motivation. This was by design; recognising a new country is not something to be done lightly, and it's important to understand the background of the situation before the motivations can be fully appreciated. 
Before we discuss these motivations in more depth, I'd like to quickly address a couple of points my opponent brought up.

How relevant is Precedent? My opponent was not impressed that precedent exists for the International Community recognising a government that has come to power through force rather than democracy. He questions the relevance of precedent at all... before bringing his own example of precedent to the table. 
I think he understands the relevance just fine. Precedent is not usually a formula. Like my opponent says, just because something happened at one time, doesn't mean it should be allowed today. None the less - a case IS stronger if one can show that it has happened in the past. And in THIS case, we don't need to go back as far as the Mongols to find an example of a forced Coup that was ratified by the International Community. In the last 50 years, they have recognised the governments of each of the following countries, (not an exhaustive list) despite the fact that they initially took power through force rather than the usual channels:
Oman - 1970; Equatorial Guinea - 1979; Uganda - 1986; Sudan - 1989; Chad - 1990; Eritrea - 1991; The Gambia - 1994; Cambodia - 1997; Rep of Congo - 1997; Fiji - 2006; Mauritania - 2008; Libya - 2011; Thailand - 2014.  

My opponent also claims that there is no precedent for country which has been unified from two separate nations, then being split again which the resulting nations being independently recognised. This is clearly wrong, there are many such examples. Much of Eastern Europe could be used, but we could just pick on Yugoslavia. Formed in 1918 from several separate states - (Serbia, Montenegro and the Provisional State of Solvenes, Croats and Serbs) it was internationally recognised by the international community as the shiny new country of Yugoslavia until the 1980's, where it eventually split again into the smaller countries recognised today. 

As my opponent says, precedent is not needed for this resolution to be affirmed, but it does exist anyway. 

Self rule IS great. My opponent berates me for bringing this up but not explaining WHY it's great. I'll be getting to that this round, so I'll leave the motivation for North Yemen Independence for now. I'll also remind my opponent, and the judges of his comments regarding precedent. The precedents he claims as far as the UN nations recognising smaller states can go both ways. To use the two specifics he's mentioned, Russia has already recognised Abkhazia, (which in turn recognises Transnistria) and the only reason that Putin has held off official recognition of Transnistria is because he was asked to very politely by the US President. Russia has long had an international consulate there. 

WHY do the Houthi want self rule for North Yemen?
I'd like to draw the judges attention to the first round CX. In that round I asked if the Houthi were justified in a vote of no confidence in the current Yemeni government. If they WERE justified, even my opponent agrees that they may have a case for independence. 
So are they justified in a vote of no confidence with the government of Yemen? Our argument is YES.

Kleptocracy - def: Rule by Thieves, a government where those in power exploit and steal national resources. 
By general consensus, the previous government of Yemen under President Ali Abdullah Saleh was a Kleptocracy. I don't expect my opponent to contest this as it's a widely accepted fact, but just in case, you can read about this here, here and here
For 33 years, the people of North Yemen saw their already small resources diminish steadily with little to no return. Their only recourse was violent action and protest. Eventually, and with the help of people both outside of the country and from within the ranks of the government itself, they were successful in overthrowing Saleh. 

But then they are now faced with only a minor change. The free elections held in 2012 saw only a single candidate - former Vice-President of the outgoing government, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. As the BBC reported at the time, there were strong suspicions cast around the amount of influence countries from the West, especially the US, had had in setting up a single candidate election. These suspicions are largely centred around the (unproven and irrelevant) contention that the Houthi government would be friendly towards Al Qaeda. There is also the matter of America's on-again-off-again friend in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. Heavily Sunni, the Saudis have a perceived vested interest in maintaining a Sunni leadership in Yemen, especially North Yemen, which shares the border with Saudi Arabia.  

The primary role of government: At this point, I'll also draw your attention to my final question during our first round CX. In answer, my opponent stated that the primary role of government is to... "protect its people from harm". (CON, First round CX) 
I agree with this point. I'll also submit that the Houthi and the people of North Yemen have endured now several decades of a government that has failed its primary role.
There is nothing to indicate that this new fractured government is any better - indeed, if it were, we could quite reasonably assume that we wouldn't even be having this debate!
The people and land of North Yemen are distinct; the government that will best serve FOR the people, will be made up BY the people and OF the people. 

It was better before. Ah yes, the age old, "in my day..." chestnut. Except in the case of the Zaidi Houthi - it's actually backed up by evidence. A thousand years of evidence. 
The Imam style of rule which was begun in Yemen WAAAAAAAY back in 897 lasted largely uncontested until in 1930's. It was around that time that cracks started showing, mostly due to outside pressures. Eventually the system broke down in the 50's and it was the slow boat to the current situation we have today. You can read a VERY good article by an expert in the subject here
Imam rule is still fresh in the minds of many Northern Yemeni. They know that that style of rule worked before and they have a good idea of how to fix it so it can work again. 
And we can hardly blame them for doubting their short stint with western style politics, after it brought them Saleh for 33 years. A vote of no-confidence is entirely justified.

Religious tolerance brings peace. Islam sure does get a bad rap these days. Everyone knows that the Sunni Muslims can't live with the Shiite Muslims without one side wanting to cut the heads off the other. Except that, again, that's not the case here. The Shiite Houthi are staunch Zaidists. This particular branch of the Shiites believes that the Imam is NOT infallible. As a result, the Zaidi are FAR more tolerant of Sunni Muslims than your bog-standard Shiite.
That being said, the Shiite in Yemen are a minority, and this is compounded by the fact that they are surrounded on all sides by Sunni Muslim. Recognising North Yemen as an independent country again would bring a sense of harmony and the assurance that their right to practice their branch of Islam will be protected, as the resulting country would be close to 100% Shiite. 

Why is Self Rule the best option for North Yemen?
Quite simply, it gives the people of North Yemen the most confidence that THEY determine their destiny, not someone else. This is because the leadership is representative of the people.

This Res is Affirmed y'all. Stop reading now and vote PRO.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-18 00:24:47
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I thank my opponent for continuing his case.

I won't labor the point, since both sides of the house agree that this is a poor standard for recognising a country. Merely because a coup ratified in Congo or Thailand some time does not logically mean this one should be. I don't recall making the second point my opponent rebuts. Instead I talked about how such nations end up poorly, and I believe this applies to the former Yugoslav states too. They're not really shining bastions of prosperity, right?

Self Rule
Again I won't trumpet this too much since my opponent is not making this a major point, but it's true Russia (and I think maybe 2 other nations) recognize Abkhazia. In this resolution too, there can be no question that Iran will support the Houthi government's legitimacy (for example - same religion). But this is far from the international community as a whole. Same applies to Transnistria (and by the way, the Russian president probably also gets asked to not recognize the independence of Abkhazia quite a lot, but even they pick their fights).

Many people live under oppressive governments. Tibet is a great example of a land that's being exploited by another government (China) for its natural resources. That does not mean, however, that the international community is going to proclaim the independence of Tibet anytime soon. The previous independence movement in Yemen happened for this exact same reason, and that wasn't recognised either.

Pro's argument isn't that the president favored either the north or south. In fact, since unification the wealth of Yemen has steadily increased, while inequality is lower than that of the United States. This is hardly a set of circumstances worth complaining about. It isn't to say that the regime has been blameless but that the unification hasn't been harmful. This being said, even IF the north was providing more wealth to the south than the south to the north (an idea contradicted by my R1 assertion that main source of the marginal wealth has been oil fields along the border) then self-rule would hurt the people of the south, causing all the problem with inequality between nations that split off that I identified in round one.

Role of the State
I submit that the rebellion of the Houthi has caused more deaths and economic damage than any other man-made action undertaken in Yemen's history. The Houthi and occasionally the forces they have been fighting have been pursuing a policy of ruthless aggression towards one another. It is the Houthi who have caused this failure, so for them to claim legitimate rule on the grounds that they themselves have been able to overthrow the old government is a joke. We submit that just because a slightly different kind of Islam is followed in some parts of Yemen does not mean the government cannot act responsibly, and indeed we see no evidence of this.

Further, this is true of many governments. Somalia too has had a government failing to protect their people, and "distinct" regions, but independence movements there have little international traction, and it's for much the same reason. Undermining another king does not make you a good king.

Imam Rule
This is only better if nzlockie now thinks that Imams are somehow better at doing the job of governing. Otherwise the people of the north are in for a grave disappointment. Likewise nostalgia, precedent, difference of religion with the sovereign, farcical aquatic ceremonies etc are also not reasons for secession that are going to be recognized internationally, as they never have. This is good because it ensures governments are formed based on merit and best interests for all parties concerned.

Tolerance brings peace
The whole reason this is even an issue is because the supposedly more tolerant north could not tolerate the supposedly less tolerant south. Meanwhile the Dalai Lama, probably one of the more tolerant people in the world, isn't likely to see the effect of that tolerance applied to getting his statehood for Tibet anytime soon. The international community should instead look to the intentions of other actors. If I were a foreign minister, I'd be most afraid of a Sudan-style conflict for control over the oil fields. And frankly I believe this is something the international community would be entirely justified in doing.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-20 23:18:54
| Speak Round
admin: Do you stand by your claim that the Houthis intention in establishing a separate state is the maximization of tolerance and peace?

Return To Top | Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (PRO)
Thanks to my opponent for his latest round, and apologies for missing the CX round. I'll pick up that question next CX. 

Before I commence this round, I'd like to quickly, and hopefully for the final time, address my opponent's comments regarding Precedent. My concern is that the Judges think I'm saying that simply because we've ratified a coup government before, we should ratify this one. This has never been my point. Showing that precedent exists is merely an important defensive point in my favour, which is why I brought it up. 
It's important that the Judges be shown that the unconventional manner in which the Houthi government has come to power is not, in and of itself, a reason for the world to not recognise them. We've done it before, and with far worse governments than this. So why should we do it again with THIS government?

The role of Government:
The primary role of Government is to care for its people. This fact has been firmly established by CON, and thoroughly endorsed by my side. As an International community we should consider the facts: Is there any truth in the Houthi claim that they, and the people of Yemen, have not been cared for by their government?
Overwhelmingly, and from every angle, (except my opponent's apparently!) the answer is YES!

Re: Increasing wealth - In his last round, my opponent used a couple of graphs to try to convince us that the situation in Yemen is not as bad as we were making out. He's totally ignored the fact that, as we proved with sources, the vast majority of those in the know consider the previous Yemeni government to have been a Kleptocracy. 
His graph on Yemen's GDP stopped at 2012. This is likely because he realised that Yemen's GDP took a massive hit in 2012. Don't just take my word for it though, check out the numbers from tradingeconomics, (numbers incidentily taken from the World Bank, CON's own source!) expressed here in this graph: 

Kind of tells a different story right? 
Even if you did buy his story about the Yemeni people getting wealthier under that government, maybe we could ask CON why all this extra wealth hasn't actually made it to the hands of the people? Exactly how much is the government caring for its people if it's making all this extra money yet the Yemeni people are still consistently hungry?
.This graph shows that over the most recent period of growth as my opponent's graph covers, the Yemeni people have had very little fluctuation in their access to food. 

That's them with the dashed Blue line floating at the top. If you can't make out the numbers, it's a little over 45% of the country who say they have not enough money to buy food. 

And take a look at THIS graph. This shows exactly which sections of the Yemeni community are being so let down by their Government in this most basic of Human needs. *Spoiler Alert* It's not the South. 

Judges, it is crystal clear, not just from these sources, but from a myriad of others, including the ones posted last round. The experts agree, the united Yemen experiment has not worked for the people of North Yemen. We should allow the Houthi the freedom to determine their own fate.

I hope everyone will forgive the short round, I'll be addressing some of the other points he's raised in the next round. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-24 20:06:34
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I thank my opponent too for his penultimate round.

Why Yemen's Wealth Declined in 2012
Yemen's huge 2012 hit in real wealth coincides exactly with the major Houthi offensive in that year. Waging war generally makes most people in most nations poorer. World war one, for instance, sent the world into an era known as the great depression. Yemen's civil war, too, has caused hardships for the people - hardships that the Houthi through their violent uprising are directly responsible for:
  • Businesses have been targeted and unemployment has risen
  • People have died or gone to war shrinking the skilled labor pool
  • People are afraid to conduct business when people with guns are everywhere
  • Exports and imports become relatively difficult as foreign nations pick sides in the conflict
  • Money is used to fund war campaigns rather than helping the people
  • That money usually goes to offshore arms dealers rather than being reinvested in the economy
  • Indirectly, reduced farm production => malnutrition => death

Why has the real wealth not gone to the "people"?
I'll deal with con's second graph first. It's misleading. If you superimpose that on the original map of the north and south, you'll see many of the south's major population centers are also in the red for population displacement, and if you superimpose that on my map, you'll see the majority of the "green" part is desert largely administered by Al Qaeda, not the Yemeni government (who presumably don't let people move so much). The same is true for malnutrition, with severe malnutrition affecting 3 northern and 2 southern provinces - roughly even. 

If you read the bulletin attached to that UN report, it highlights the reasons for these adverse circumstances:
  • Rising global food prices as Yemen imports most of its food - outside of the government's control
  • Massive numbers of migrants moving into the country, as shown on the first graph - outside of the governments control (bearing in mind many are forced to live there, like for example when Saudi Arabia expelled everybody from Yemen in the 90s, and also how hard it is to maintain border security)
  • Fragile security hampering humanitarian efforts

All of which are far from the "kleptocracy" that pro wished to convey. The report, unlike many others published by the UN, is not critical of the Yemeni government, and indeed praises it for holding free and fair elections in 2012 (seen as a positive development in the wake of the Arab Spring) which led to positive change. It should also be noted that the Houthi had been free to participate there, but didn't feel like getting any sort of mandate then, probably because they knew they didn't have one. The real problem is that Yemen is too wealthy relative to their neighbors, but especially Somalia, due to the oil and gas reserves you can see marked below between the north and south of Somalia. The map also demonstrates that the GNI per capita in Somalia (the average wealth) is actually comparable to Egypt or Morocco.

In addition to Somalia, many come from Ethiopia to escape the (more deadly) civil war that's currently going on there.

You might reasonably ask how much of this is the government's doing, and how much is the gas companies. That depends on what government income is spent on. In fact Somalia has as many social safety net programs as Israel and spends as much on health as Tunisia despite a vastly lower income.

You can't fault the government for trying to make a difference. If pro wanted to win this point, he needed to tell you what exactly the government has done that was so atrocious. What policy was so unfair to the north. Did they refuse to invest in northern infrastructure? Not hire public servants from the north? Pro has provided no analysis of the sort, merely some claims about northern poverty with no causal link to the government, and his claims aren't even true.

The other graph in this section my opponent cites is again misleading, but for a different reason. If you look at the full-size version rather than the itty bitty thumbnail pro provided, you might be able to read that the y-axis is in fact the perception of food insecurity, as opposed to the real food insecurity (undernourishment being less than half the level reported on the graph, and the actual results for several other countries being quite different also).

You know what the World Food Programme explicitly states is the #1 reason for real food insecurity in Yemen? Political instability (aka code for, the civil war). Indeed this report from the same organization, who are actually on the ground fighting hunger, attributes almost all of the present food insecurity to the political turmoil caused by the civil war. The fact is that, much of the trouble in Yemen today is more the fault of the Houthi attack than the old government's policy. At best, it isn't clear cut the government's fault.

This was a primarily religious war
The Houthi allege all sorts of things but ultimately two things are clear:
  • By waging this war they have made the situation undeniably worse for both the north and the south.
  • The north was almost wholly funded by Iran, and the south by Saudi Arabia, for no reasons other than religious affiliation.
It's like when Sunni rebels attack Hezbollah or something. They can claim all they want that their religion has nothing to do with it but... yeah, it's pretty clear that it does. The war has very little to do with the government policy and it's just absurd at this point to defend that position. If the Houthi (who are, by the way, a religious sect as opposed to a political movement) want self determination it's because they hate Sunni Islam.

Dropped points
Pro agrees (by failure to argue against me) that:
  • Imams are not necessarily better at governing than politicians
  • Tolerance as practiced by the Yemeni government, not Houthi intolerance, is what brings peace
  • Even if the Houthi had legitimate grievances, that doesn't mean the Houthi (of all possible sects etc) should be accepted as the new leaders of Yemen
  • That the exploitation of one government doesn't justify the international community sanctioning another one
  • Oh yeah, and precedent still exists for a movement just like this one not being recognized ;)

The vast majority of my case has been dropped and conceded. This has left me with little substantive material to argue, and as such, I will hope my opponent finally engages with me in the CX.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-26 07:58:02
| Speak Round
admin: Could you please now answer my question from the previous CX?
nzlockie: Sure. Before I do, would you be able to quote the statement I made which led you to the conclusion that that was my stance?
admin: Yes. It's the entire section you labelled "Religious tolerance brings peace." in the previous round as an argument for your position.
nzlockie: Yes I thought that was the section you might be referring to. Firstly my statement is directed as to why the international community should recognise the new government, rather than the Houthi motivation. Allowing the states to divide along natural religious borders would have a better chance of peace in this region than appearing to favour one side over the other.
nzlockie: So, no, in as much as I never made it, I don't stand by that statement.
admin: So you believe that by erecting divisions between peoples, cultures and religions, they co-exist more peacefully?
nzlockie: well, I wouldn't necessarily put it like that, but in short, yes. Its a well documented psychological phenomenon called, "Defensible Spaces".
nzlockie: and it's particularly applicable here, as this minority is literally surrounded on all sides.
admin: Why would somebody from the north support imam based rule if the imams do a worse job of governing than the combined governments of the north and south?
nzlockie: in your last round, you've claimed that the Houthi were responsible for the wealth collapse in 2012, yet we already established that that war was finished in 2010. By 2012, the Houthi were only one small part of the majority of Yemeni who were all united in trying to overthrow Badi. Are you prepared to attribute blame for the collapse elsewhere?
admin: No, I don't believe we established that.
nzlockie: First round. I asked for any corrections to my summary of the situation to be voiced then. You didn't raise any objections...
admin: How is that last post an answer to my question as opposed to an answer to my answer?
nzlockie: Yeah we're crossing questions. My point of order is that the timeline for events was set in the first round, from cited sources. i don't think you can contest that now in our final CX. My question to you stands, but let's finish your line first.
admin: I believe I answered it and stand by my answer. No, we didn't establish it the way you put it in that post there, specifically: a) that the Houthi were not the majority of the coalition that attempted to topple the government, and b) that the war was finished in 2010, as opposed to going to a truce.
nzlockie: I can think of a number of reasons someone from the North would support Imam rule, I've Ofsted a bunch of them here already. I also dispute the inference that someone from the north would rate the combined government as a better option...
admin: Would you be inclined to share why those reasons would hold if imam governance was worse?
nzlockie: ... (still typing) however if I had to chose one, it be because the Houthi are Zaidists and therefore believe that Imam rule is mandated.
nzlockie: I repeat my objection to the question though, since I don't believe the North to rate the combined govt over Imam rule.
admin: Do you agree then that this is a religious war?
nzlockie: not at all. I don't agree that it's a war. I agree that religion plays a small part, but there are other significant factor as well. Mostly I see this as a classic struggle against oppression.
nzlockie: Do you think that the international community recognising North Yemen as a separate country would defuse the situation more than if they were to favour the previous govt?
admin: No. The lack of recognition of a Houthi government would delegitimize the Houthi with their unjust attacks, rather like the uprising in the 90s was quashed and delegitimized.
nzlockie: How does delegitimising them establish peace? If it didn't work in the 90's, (because there's been more uprisings) why should we think it will work now?

Return To Top | Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
Judges, at the end of this debate you need to ask yourself 3 key questions. There were claims of precedent, but ultimately my opponent cast them by the wayside by claiming precedent is only a guideline at best, and hey, both of us have made at least equal claims to precedent. Therefore it's a moot, non-issue to this debate.

Is Self-Rule Always Great?
Pro has asserted this throughout his case but has been proven wrong time and time again by example. He has not even met his own standard for this, by not proving (in spite of my evidence to the contrary) that the Houthi had a popular mandate. I've also provided numerous examples of countries with a popular mandate where the international community at large does not recognize them. Prefer my standard of it actually having to be in the best interests of the country and the international community to do so. Pro eventually basically concedes this view by failing to argue it further anyway.

Did the previous government fail Yemen?
I've proven that Yemen is a place with low inequality and not an absurdly low level of wealth. I then investigated the causes of poverty and food dependence in Yemen and found that it was not the government's doing. Pro never rebutted that evidence. Further, even if it was, it was never established that government policy was in any way discriminatory to the south. I provided unrebutted counter-analysis that this is probably mostly all the fault of the Houthi themselves, and also that unification was what allowed GDP growth to occur through oil and gas exploration on the border. Further, pro never showed why living in an oppressive government inherently justifies international recognition, with several examples (notably Tibet).

Even if they did, are the Houthi splitting off northern Yemen the best alternative for Yemen?
This is where I think I've won the debate. I've shown that the Houthi are a violent sect waging a religious war of control, a war that has taken on an international dimension over time. I've shown that rather than tolerance, the Houthi create more violence than they could ever solve for, and that a lack of imam rule isn't as bad a problem as the damage that would be caused by resentment of the breaking apart of Yemen. Not only would wealth decline, but you'd get what I call the Korea effect, whereby both the north and south gradually keep hating each other. 

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-03-02 02:02:30
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (PRO)
So my opponent has gone with the ol' "three questions" bit... classic. Judges, you'll be pleased to know that you don't need to ask yourself three questions. You only need to ask yourself one: "Should the International Community recognise the Shia Houthi Government in North Yemen?"

The fact that precedent exists establishes that recognition of a coup government has happened before. The fact alone that the Houthi have risen to power through a military coup is therefore no reason to reject this government. 

Even though precedent also exists for us recognising some pretty terrible and corrupt governments - not least of which was the previous Yemeni government - that's not even the case here. 
I've pointed out that the Houthi are:
Able to rule - their system of Imam rule guided Yemen for over a thousand years. It's tried, tested and true. It is familiar to the people. 

Religiously Isolated -Being surrounded on all sides by Sunni Muslim, most notably from the north by Saudi Arabia, the Houthi can't be blamed for feeling backed into a corner. Allowing them autonomy brings a religious harmony to the area, as they no longer need to fear having their religious freedoms impugned by a Sunni government.

Entitled - These people have been literally ripped off by the outgoing government. Labelled a Kleptocracy by scholars all over the world, the previous Yemeni government used the country as their own personal bankroll. The Houthi people in North Yemen were disproportionately marginalized by that government and were entirely justified in fighting back against this oppression. After the Civil war had ended, even the government's own troops sided with the Houthi in declaring no confidence in President Ali Abdullah Saleh. 
Now that the dust has settled and Saleh has gone, who among us can blame the Houthi - the people who suffered most under his reign - for declaring independence?

As an International Community, our role here is quite simple. We were fine with recognising a government that stole from its own people and tried to violently put down those who would rise up against it. Both sides of this house have made cases for why Yemen would be better off based on the recognition or non-recognition of this government, but at the end of the day, it's pretty clear that the International Community is not there to annoint the government that demonstrates the best care for its people. It's clear that that is not our role. If it were, we would have supported the Houthi as soon as they started to make noise about Saleh and his band of crooks.

No, the way of the International Community is simply to let the people sort it out themselves. So Judges, there really is only one question you need to ask yourselves...
"Should I recognise the Houthi government in North Yemen?" 
They have already seized power. They've declared their intention to return Yemen to its previous state of two separate countries*, and as luck would have it, they're an underdog - and we all love an underdog!

If a claim of rule has even a hint of legitimacy about it, the International Community ought to recognise it. The Houthi claim has far more than a hint. 

The resolution is affirmed - the International Community SHOULD recognise the Houthi government of North Yemen. 

I thank my opponent for the exciting debate, and the Judges for their consideration. Finally to Stag and Whiteflame for their efforts in putting this competition together. 


* just wanted to remind any judges who may be informed as to the actual real world facts around Yemen politics that due to a misinterpretation of the resolution, both parties in this debate have agreed to argue a theoretical scenario where the Houthi are seeking to establish a separate country in North Yemen. Once again, sorry about that.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-03-04 19:46:20
| Speak Round

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Dassault PapillonDassault Papillon
Posted 2015-03-13 03:45:59
Well to be fair, the rugby debate is a good example of what is going down here.
Posted 2015-02-28 09:15:40
They're more like observations than accusations In any case.
Posted 2015-02-28 01:54:29
Sure I can. I frequently counter with spelling corrections as well.


Posted 2015-02-28 00:55:54
Can you not counter statements with accusations of hypocripsy?
Posted 2015-02-28 00:16:42
I know. False facts like "I looked it up and rugby isn't played in high schools aside from a few in the US."
Posted 2015-02-27 22:32:29
It doesn't matter, false facts help neither side inherently.
Posted 2015-02-27 22:28:46
Misinformation = False Facts
Posted 2015-02-27 21:22:45
Also, "a part" is two words. Funnily enough, if you write it as "apart" it carries almost the exact opposite meaning.
Posted 2015-02-26 20:49:35
Mostly that stemmed from my mis-interpretation of your badly written resolution. As mentioned at the beginning of the second round, the debate has morphed into a theoretical world debate where the Houthi are asking to form North Yemen into an independent country.

On review, I think the main reason I went wrong with interpreting your res was because you felt the need to specify that Yemen's government was located in North Yemen. This didn't need to be specified and indeed, it really wouldn't have made a difference where it was located. Since you DID specify it, along with some confusing maps of the former Yemni republics, I naturally assumed your intent was that we argue that the country revert back to two separate states.

Like I said, numerous times, I don't really have time for this debate.
That being said, it still doesn't contain as much misinformation as your case for Football being better than Rugby...
Posted 2015-02-26 20:46:02
From what I've noticed, this debate has the most misinformation by far. I'm not sure if giving false information was apart of a strategy of sorts.
Posted 2015-02-26 19:31:23
I'd love to do a proper team debate. I'll be keen, unless I'm traveling again. It's too hard doing this from the road!
Posted 2015-02-26 11:15:29
No problem, my performance hasn't been my best either.

We should enter as a team into the WODC. Just because I wonder if the DDO mods would allow it lol.
Posted 2015-02-26 11:09:18
Sorry for the terrible performance here admin. I wish we'd been able to stick to the original plan!
Posted 2015-02-26 11:07:09
Sigh. For some reason I thought this debate had five rounds! Oh well, I barely had time to post the little amount I did anyway, I'm just pleased it's finishing.
Posted 2015-02-26 11:03:52
Almost ran out of time again lol...
Posted 2015-02-20 23:19:12
It's fair btw.
Posted 2015-02-16 22:49:20
You are not breaking any rules by making that argument.
There is a thing called researching your topic though.
Posted 2015-02-16 20:15:38
Riiiiight. So you could have probably substituted "in" with "of" or "from" and the res would have made more sense right?
You probably didn't need to specify North Yemen and give us a confusing map showing North and South Yemen separated then. And this also makes the comment about the "Former Yemen Republic" confusing as well. I'm assuming now that by, "former" you meant, "current". Is that right?

Hmmm. Oh well, since I doubt that anyone really follows Yemeni politics that much, and since there'd be a stronger case for the Houthi to be arguing for a return to the split Yemens, and since I'm arguing PRO so that suits me better... I'd prefer to keep arguing the res as we've interpreted it.

That being said, if Admin feels that this is not fair, I don't mind taking a random topic from the Pool instead.
Posted 2015-02-16 01:58:15
Ha, that is because Houthis is only in North Yemen, where the capital is. I tried to change the resolution to Yemen because I feared you guys might mess it up.

Unfortunately this resolution does not make sense. If @nzlockie wants to run an independent Houthis north model, I guess that wouldn't be to much of a problem. It is just confusing since the Houthis are not working towards an independent north.
Posted 2015-02-16 01:48:03
Ha! OK I'm ready. Bring on round two!
Posted 2015-02-16 00:29:02
He's wrong! Because... wait a moment...
Posted 2015-02-16 00:26:59
So maybe I should run with a reverse-psych argument and see if I can sneak it past you!
"There is no good argument for the Houthi claim of control of the Yemeni government!"
Posted 2015-02-16 00:25:44
If it's clear to nzlockie, I might add, then it must also be clear to me. In case it's not apparent I'm just straight negging this and rebutting pro's claims as he makes them. One of the easiest strategies for a good debate if both sides have limited time.
Posted 2015-02-16 00:19:42
Actually your instructions specifically stated that this debate could only cover the borders of the " former Yemeni republic " which I took to mean the Arab Republic of Yemen, now known as " North Yemen ". This was a little confusing as it seemed to me that they were seeking control over the north AND the south... I just figured there must have been some little independence movement I wasn't aware of.
Posted 2015-02-16 00:17:34
Hey guys, I just want to clarify that this debate was intended to be over whether the international community should recognize Houthis control over Yemen. I thought this was clear since Houthis's political goal isn't independence, but a claim on the government.

I wasn't sure if NZLockie understood that or not, but it is evident admin didn't. I do not care too much, but I do not think the resolution makes sense the way you guys are arguing it.
Posted 2015-02-15 23:04:48
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2015-03-13 03:40:46
Dassault PapillonJudge: Dassault Papillon
Win awarded to: admin
Please excuse me if this RFD seems poor; I don't vote often and I'm rather inexperienced. But anyway...

The things debated, that is, the "Theatres" of this "debate war", seemed to be as following:
1. Self-Determination for a group of people who are different from the rest of Yemen.
2. That the Government of Yemen is allegedly "holding the North down"
3. The the Houthis have proposed a seemingly poor choice of Government (Imam)
4. That the very reason for the reason for the recent decline in national wealth is the war instigated by the Houthis
5. That the Houthis have acted in an unconscionable manner, such as the use of child soldiers

Being Shia in a Sunni nation, it probably would help the cause of religious freedom for the two groups to separate into two nations.
Despite an Imam being a "poor choice", if that's what they want, then this is irrelevant, so that point is negated.

A more pressing issue, however, is whether or not the North is being exploited by the South. Unfortunately, NZlockie did (in my opinion) a poor job of illustrating this point. And splitting off does cause economic divisions which usually hurt both sides.

While I plan towards NZlockie's side, I don't feel as though he provided sufficient grounds to warrant secession of the North (I feel stange saying that), or the right of all distinct peoples to have their own distinct nation. Reforms would do just as well, would they not?

Therefore, I cast my vote for "Admin". Good debate.
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1 comment on this judgement
I think this is a really fair judgement. I agree with most of your analysis.
Posted 2015-11-04 03:14:56

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