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Yemen Advocacy: Mr. Abraham Aiyash on the Power of Storytelling

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States — 

Organizer- Washington Center for Yemeni Studies

Abraham Aiyash- Speaker of the Michigan State House

 

In his keynote remarks, Michigan State Representative Mr. Abraham Aiyash expressed his enthusiasm to shed light on the consensus that a just and sustainable peace in Yemen should be a priority for the international community and U.S. policymakers. 

 

Aiyash began by praising the strong bonds that tie the Yemeni American community together across the U.S. He praised their consensus and advocacy for a safe and democratic Yemen. Aiyash emphasized that the Yemeni conflict is “a purely man-made crisis.” Furthermore, while that is a tragic reality, he views it as a point of hope, stating that “this is something done by man. It can be undone.”

 

He then dove into the role of Yemeni Americans in undoing the Yemeni Crisis and summarized it in the following steps: 

  • Providing folks in political power with data-based recommendations– those in power have to deal with various issues and cannot be subject-matter experts on everything.
  • Aiyash also emphasized the power of story, marrying science and facts with personal anecdotes, which allows for breaking the impact of the war in Yemen from confinements of mere statistics.

He praised the community and said, “we, as Yemeni Americans, know the value of Democracy.” Moreover, he advised the audience that Yemenis and Yemeni Americans must refrain from otherizing people with different perspectives on the war. He also encouraged them to engage in healthy and necessary dialogue instead. “We have a responsibility to know the value of dialogue, and disagreement is healthy and necessary to achieve Solutions here in the United States for us to advocate for those back in Yemen.”

 

He recounted that less than 10% of the votes he received in his bid for a seat in the Michigan State House came from Yemeni Americans, who make up 45% of his constituents. He stressed Dr. Debbier Almonstaser’s encouragement to Yemeni- Americans to engage the mechanisms necessary for advocacy to move through the system and accomplish its intended objectives.

 

Aiyash concluded his remarks: “No one is going to fight for Yemen the way a Yemeni American will.” We should not expect immediate results. We must accept the past and be pragmatic with the present while building for the future, long-term work. We must channel the energy to empower and support individuals and institutions working to engage with local, federal, and state officials to know their stories. 

 

The Washington Center for Yemeni Studies launched the WCYS 1st Annual Conference 2022 – Yemen Under the Scope in Washington, D.C., on September 29th. Since then, Yemeni-led in-depth conversations have brought together various political, economic, and civil society actors by offering an inclusive platform for diverse voices in Yemeni affairs to share insights and advance solutions for overarching issues and struggles in ending the crisis.

 

– Michigan State Representative, Mr. Abraham Aiyash, Keynote Address at the 1st WCYS Annual Conference 2022 – Yemen Under the Scope.

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