Issue No. 3
May 19, 2011
By Hassan Al-Haifi
For all practical purposes, it is safe to announce the failure of the latest attempt by the Gulf Cooperation Council to broker Initiative IV to end the stalemate between President Saleh and the revolting people of Yemen against his rule. Sometimes, the initiatives were viewed as being merely efforts to continue to give the rapidly collapsing regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh time to suppress the revolt once and for all. These are perception depend on how the observer views the intentions of the Saudi Arabians and to a lesser extent the other member states of the GCC.
The failure was clearly evident almost from the start of the GCC initiatives some two months back and even predictable then. For one thing, the GCC has yet to be able to manage its own internal civil uprisings as in the case of Bahrain. On the other hand, there was obvious disagreement among the members as evidenced by Qatar’s announcement that it is withdrawing from the initiative for undisclosed reasons over a week ago. Moreover, Saudi Arabia continued to be the major supporter of Saleh to continue the suppression of the regime, with arms and money, which lost any real credibility in the initiative. As the first initiative became doomed, rather than improving on the failure, the GCC continued to come out with additional initiatives that were more distant to meeting the desires of the protesting youth and the popular support that they enjoyed throughout the country. The inititatives became seen as an obvious stalling tactic to allow Saleh to gather the strength to quell the revolt. The Joint Meeting Parties of the Opposition also lost its credibility among the protesters, as the protesters were cautioning that the JMP better not try to consider themselves as the newly favored regime to replace the Saleh Regime, with strong Saudi patronage. We have seen this happen before in the history of Saudi political relations with its unfairly treated neighbor to the South. The Saudis, at the end of the Civil War that followed the Revolution of September 26, 1962 abandoned the Royalists and took them in as exiles and decided that ties with a weak Republican regime then would allow them to extend their strings of influence throughout the fabric of Yemeni society. In fact, the Saudis began to have adverse effects on all facets of Yemeni society, including the chance to spread their Wahhabi version of Islam to a sizable portion of the Yemeni population, especially in the remote rural areas of the country. This is where the recruits for the Jihadi culture that materialized in Yemen originally came from. Politically, and to the knowledge or of very few chroniclers, the Saudis started their direct meddling in Yemeni politics with the coup d’état of Col. Ibrahim Al-Hamdi (June 13, 1973), whose reinstatement of the military at the helms of authority, have dissolved a once democratic civilian government (under the sagacious and scholarly Qadhi Abdul-Rahman Al-Iriani as Chairman of the Presidential Council), which was the Government that signed the Jeddah Agreement of 1970 with Saudi Arabia! The intrigue did not end there. As far as the Saudis were concerned, Al-Hamdi veered off the course that the Saudis hoped he would follow, and even took on radical directions (such as attempting the unity of North Yemen with their radical leftist counterpart in the South, which was then aligned with Moscow). The latter msut have given the Saudis nightmares. Those nightmares led the Saudis to see the overthrow of the Hamdi regime, and with the help of some of the tribal sheikhs, who have been sent out of Sana’a to their tribal strongholds a few months earlier by Al-Hamdi, a bloody coup was arranged led by the Military Chief of Staff then Colonel Ahmed Al-Ghashmy. Among the leading instigators of the coup was Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was then Military Commander of Ta’ez Governorate. Within Six Months, Al-Ghashmy was blown to pieces by an obscure bomb delivered reportedly by a messenger of then President Salim Rubayia Ali of South Yemen. The latter was mysteriously overthrown on the same day by another bloody coup that turned Aden ablaze. The Speaker of the Constituent Assembly in Sana’a, then, Al-Qadhi Abdul-Karim Al-Arashi took over as provisional President pending the selection (or what was hoped would be the election) of a new CIVILIAN President. Ali Abdulla Saleh then maneuvered to replace Al-Ghashmi by some form of constitutional mandate and had the premises of the Constituent Assembly surrounded by tanks and manned by thugs armed to the teeth throughout the premises grounds in the Middle of Sana’a near Liberation Square. Al-Arashy sadly had to surrender the last hope of returning to civilian rule again, with a threat on his life, if he tried to upset the planned takeover by Ali Abdullah Saleh. That was in July 17, 1979 and Yemen never saw the light of day since.
On that fateful day, it is worth noting that the only one in the Constituent Assembly who voted no to the Presidency of Saleh, by a smart excuse stating this was for the sake of “confirming democracy in the proceedings of the Assembly”. Mr. Mohammed Al-Rubbia is still alive and is the Secretary General of the Popular Forces Party, one of the parties of the Joint Meeting Parties.
Part II tomorrow will show how the Saleh regime is about to crumble the latest developments in the current popular uprising against the Saleh regime before the eyes of the world, and indicate the signs that are clear indications of the eventual loss of control by the Saleh regime of the elements that have kept him in command of the destiny of Yemen for the last thirty three years.