Yemen's issue and Public Diplomacy, what we must do?
Mugahid Sadiq Sarhan

A group of Malaysian civil society organizations organized a seminar held on February 27, 2019, in Malaysia entitled "Stand with Yemen" under the war mill that has been going on for four years. Where the Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed was scheduled to attend and deliver his speech. But he apologized and his message was delivered to the audience by the Foreign Minister Dr. Saif al-Din, who attended on his behalf. This symposium has sparked a wave of anger and discussions at the Yemeni official and popular levels, because of the content of slides' images that presented during the symposium which were contrary to the facts. This misinformation was clarified by most of the audience during the (Q and A) time. As well as the symposium was interested in issues not related to Yemen, which was presented at the second part of the seminar.

In my opinion, the Saudi-Qatari political issues were more prominent than any other issue in the symposium. Hence, I realized that Qatari-based Al-Jazeera has a role in establishing this symposium for using it in their media battle against Saudis.  From my point of view, and as a result of this event, it was necessary to develop the role of the Yemeni Embassy in Malaysia and to transfer the real Yemeni reality as it is, using public diplomacy.

In this line, the symposium highlighted the pivotal role that the Yemeni embassies should play in the various host countries that represent the classic diplomacy to influence the official side of the host countries to serve the Yemeni cause. However, there is an important role to play in the public diplomacy represented by the informal entities Such as student associations and civil society organizations, as well as the role of the press and the media, including the use of social media to influence local public opinion and create a public opinion supportive of the Yemeni people in the recovery of their state and ending the coup. To actively contribute to the humanitarian relief of those affected by the impacts of the war imposed on the Yemeni people.

As it is known, public diplomacy defines as the process of influencing public opinions in host countries in order to achieve the objectives of a country's foreign policy, or, in other words, influencing host governments through influencing the views of their citizens by strengthening cultural and religious relations. According to David Hoffman, this influence, characterization, is carried out by government agencies, groups, and individuals, including intellectual, cultural, and religious symbols, directly or indirectly, on the general tendencies of peoples, affecting the political decisions of their governments towards the hosted state and influential entities.

In this context, the Yemeni communities and student associations in various countries of the world have a national mission to mobilize public opinion, whether through intellectual seminars or awareness meetings on different occasions, to introduce the Yemeni issue and convey the true and realistic picture of the war in Yemen against the coupists and correct the distorted image that  Al-Houthi militias are trying with its affiliated lobbies in different countries to influence the world public opinion. This national task must certainly be a policy of all Yemeni diplomatic missions through the development of well thought out plans for the communities and the organizations of students and all entities that have the ability to influence public opinion in the fair of Yemen issue.

At the level of Malaysia, Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen Dr. Adel Bahamid has spared no effort to introduce the cause of the Yemeni people. He is playing a patriotic role that is a victory for the Yemeni people and their constitutional legitimacy. However, this individual role despite its remarkable successes is in dire need of expansion and distribution so that all the national forces living here in Malaysia, including the community and student union and activate the role of cultural attaché as representative of public diplomacy, so that the efforts that guide Malaysian public opinion and win support for the Yemeni issue and through it influence the legislative and executive powers of their country.

Yemeni-Malaysian relations are distinguished by their deep history. And Yemenis are required to clarify the situation inside Yemen in a comprehensive and clear and refute the allegations of the Houthis who use the blood and tears of the Yemeni people to influence public opinion.

Finally, international policies do not move in a straight line but change according to the direction of public opinion and the interests of countries.  These policies may differ in large proportion according to the facts on the ground and the change in the public and official mood.