By: Hassan Al-Haifi
October 25, 2011
(Pictures of Millions of Yemenis Protesting in Aden, Ta’ez and Sana’a)
Part II (JMP and the Yemeni Revolution for Change),which followed: Part I (https://yemenonthethreshold.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/the-gulf-cooperation-council-initiative-part-i/ where GCC Initiative Part I is
Section i: Background of the Political Environment in Yemen
The Arab Spring spectacularly brought on a dynamic, highly sophisticated and
almost subsequent flare up of healthy political awakenings throughout significant
parts of the Arab World. The observer cannot help but wonder at the rapid
succession of popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and
Syria. Most of these uprisings commenced on the first two months of 2011
and some saw their finales within a month (Tunisia 23 days and Egypt 18 days.)
The rest dragged on for much longer periods, with Libya just declared over on the 24th of this month, while the Yemeni, Bahraini and Syrian uprisings dragging for the good part of eight months (nine months, if one assumes that the Yemeni Arab Spring Revolution with the march to the Tunisian Embassy in Sana’a by a few marchers led by Tawakkul Karman – Yemen’s first Nobel Prize laureate and the Arab World’s first women to earn the internationally celebrated award – to congratulate the Tunisians on the victory of their Revolution. That was on January 15, 2011, just one day after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunis, and stated his famous declaration: “I get the point!” or literally translated, I understand. In any case, the Yemeni
Revolution is still in progress, and more importantly, is still proceeding
peacefully; i.e. with the protesting youth still clinging to a non-violent and
peaceful modus operandi.
Even after having been driven out of commission for the good part of three months in a hospital bed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, following a mysterious bomb/rocket attack on the Nahdein Twin Mountains Complex that encloses the Presidential Residence and other associated facilities, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s master of wily mostly mischievous political maneuvers – and nothing else – for 33 years, has returned to Yemen. He seems now even more determined not to “get the point” of Zine Al Abidine and fly away or quit his office like Mohammed Husni Mubarak, the ousted former President of Egypt. For eight/nine months, the Yemeni youth and the millions of Yemenis that back their peaceful revolution stubbornly hold on to their unwavering objective of removing Ali Abdullah Saleh from the Presidency and all his offspring and kin, who are holding the top military and civilian posts in government, out of
office. More than that, the youth and the vast majority of grass roots Yemenis
supporting the peaceful revolution for change insist that that the President
and all the elements of the Saleh Regime, of family, kin and consorts should be
arrested, investigated and held accountable for all the misery that the regime
has brought upon Yemen (wars, killings, random apprehensions, arrests,
violations of human rights, etc) since the regime came to power in 1978). In
addition, they must all be held liable for all the waste and plunder of public
resources and private and public assets and the gross corruption that
characterized the Saleh regime throughout the period. A famous late blind
Yemeni literary personality (Abdullah Al-Baraddooni) once called the Saleh regime (this was in the mid Nineties of the last Century), “the most corrupt regime in history, and he did not just mean Yemeni history. With the Yemeni Revolution’s generally noble quests, the uprising should have been a quick success like its predecessors in Tunisia and Egypt. Indeed that would have been the case if all the political factions in
the country, from leading patriotic prominent senior officials, opposition
political parties and social and religious dignitaries, played the game like their counterparts in Tunis and Egypt. In the latter two cases these very important political factions wisely took the back seat and let the young people (uncommitted to any political or social factions) lead the revolt smoothly to a successful finale.
In Tunis and Egypt, there was a more mature political, social cultural environment with at least 30 to 40% of the populations having access to internet, among other significant helpful factors. In addition, family and tribal influences of the rulers were not as entrenched in government, as the case was in Yemen, especially in the military (which is somewhat similar to the Libyan case, although to a far lesser extent than the Saleh regime in Yemen).
In Yemen, Saleh, his sons, nephews, fellow tribesmen and allied tribal leaders
and corrupt loyal cronies were implanted everywhere in Government. Saleh also
had a complex security and propaganda integrated machine that for the most part
always kept the regime ahead of its adversaries. There were “mosquitoes” (informers) and propaganda agents everywhere in the social fabric of the society and thus Saleh felt confident, as he always was on the several occasions he was confronted with a major challenge that threatened his tight hold on government, the military and even the economy, that he can prevail in this challenge. Many observers however contend that this time he may have for once missed the mark.
Brief Political History of Yemen in the Saleh Era:
With the unification of Yemen, came the introduction of lip service to some
marginal democratic processes and practices (elections, which were never free and
honest; free press, which was never spared the repressive arms of the securit
and public information organs of the regime and took a number of martyrs for
press freedom, whose mysterious deaths have yet to be fully investigated; and
political pluralism, that was actually used by the regime to set up its own
cloned versions of “opposition parties” and which eventually became the alliance of pro regime parties). Moreover the regime dominated all the media channels that had significant readerships or audiences – a state monopoly almost. Notwithstanding the obvious ridicule to genuine democratic practice and conduct this may have produced as an inescapable trait of the Saleh regime, there were some political parties and
organizations that managed to eke out a meek presence in the political field.
This field was heretofore completely dominated by the People’s General Congress
(PGC), or General People’s Congress, a composite political organization that used to
encompass all the political parties and prominent social and political figures
in the former Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) prior to Yemeni unification (1990), when political pluralism was simply out of the question. The Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) was pretty much in the same political windmill in the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen or PDRY), although it had a more leftist and radical orientation. With unification, the YSP insisted on a democratic and more liberalized political and social framework for the new unified Republic of Yemen, and with great reluctance Saleh and his more subservient and absolutely obedient PGC accepted this precondition to unification.
To be followed soon with:
Section ii: Opposition Parties and the Current Yemeni Revolution for Change