UI – Part 135 – Yemen


UI – Part 135 –Yemen

The trend continues.  The Arab Spring that arose in Tunisia and flowed across parts of the Middle-East, with revolutions in Egypt and Libya changing the government, can now include Yemen.  President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule ended after more than 10 months of turmoil.  From Al Arabaya News dated December 13, 2011, the headline read: Islamists poised to run Yemen after emerging as biggest winners in anti-Saleh struggle.

The concern is that a more fundamentalist group has emerged that will impose strict Sharia Law practices in this Country.  The Islah (reform) Party is a combination of extreme organizations to include the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi’s.  In a posting on Salafi’s[1] (UI – Part 129 – Salafi) I noted this group makes the Muslim Brotherhood look like boy scouts when it comes to the rigid practices of Islam they prefer, being more akin to Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia.  There is a mix of rebels from a Nobel Peace Prize winner (2011)(so much for Norwegian choices of supporters of Peace)(activist Tawakkol Karman) and a financier of terrorism (according to Washington DC officials)(cleric Abdul Majid Zendani).  Islah is a representative group of the Muslim Brotherhood from years past when students studying in Egypt returned influenced by the persecuted Brotherhood members there (1968 or so).

Saleh will leave office in February as negotiations continue for the change of watch.  The president’s party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), “will lose influence in favor of Islah….” One local analyst noted.

As for the presence of Salafists in his movement, Qahtan stressed Islah was an “open party” and that the “diversity of opinions is a healthy phenomenon.” Mohammed Qahtan is the Islah party’s political department head.  From a Yemeni local with whom I correspond I received the following note: “Hope so (as to the ‘open party’ comment) because I worked once for an Islahi school and there was no diversity of opinions, and moreover, individuals who used to belong to the Islah party and disagreed with its policy were always cast out!”

The Islah indicated they would cooperate with other political factions. The Common Forum groups Islah with the Yemeni Socialist Party, which ruled the former South Yemen, as well as the Nasserist party and al-Haq party which represents the impoverished state’s minority Zaidi Shiites.   The alliance forecast is to be in place for two years –after that, who knows.  Elections, dictatorial control, an overthrow by the Islah to govern alone – who knows.

My local contact informed me that Yemen currently functions much as does Saudi Arabia, except for the wealth, “I believe Saudi Arabia does support Islah party against Houthis that represent the Zaydi sect.”  Saleh was good friends with the Saudi Royal Family.  This contact person is educated and young, an indirect participant, but supporter of the outrage for change, whose views are worthy, “Personally, I think common people are fed up and I don’t think they are into following Islah especially after they (turned their) back to youth and signed the deal with president Saleh. Maybe the revolution hasn’t fulfilled its goals but at least people have dismissed fear out of their hearts and corrupted people in positions of power would think twice before practicing corruption.”

Here again the youth movement of Arab Spring is being hijacked by the more extreme entrenched and organized parties.

I was reminded however, that Yemen is a tribal nation.  We in the West may never understand how the tribal culture works or cooperates with each other.  It seems to be a form of State’s rights with boundaries defined by history.  The leadership is strong within the culture. Family values, memories of prior conflicts and attitudes towards one another dominate decisions.  Entitlements for support of governing factions is called for when a vote is desired – to include positions in government, ownership of enterprises, welfare, and money (cash).  My correspondent refers to dealings tribe to tribe as ‘gamesmanship.’

The prayer always remains that free elections will continue.  It may be the only element of freedom in the Muslim world, but it would be a great beginning which would allow the young, the moderates, the more independent Muslims to have a voice, be given the opportunity to organize and in time have a more civil legal structure that expands human rights for the populace.  When you see a shut down of the election booth then know the authorities have discovered their personal motivation and greed has become a driving force.  Dissent for their treatment of the public will be handled as we are now observing in Egypt and Syria.  The question will be which force emerges the stronger, the one with the gun and military, or the one with the heart and will for a  free society.

Let those in Muslim countries, Arab or otherwise, look to Iran and see the dissidents losing to the authoritarians.  It is always in the name of Allah, but seldom in favor of the populace as a whole.  The people under the thumb of the Khomeini, the scholarly dictator, the voice for Muhammad and Allah, do not wish to become a pagan culture.  They will honor the glory of God, but wish to be free to do so and to do so as they choose.  They want to pick the leader of their preference, not the Khomeini’s.

Governments love to dictate.  We see it in America.  Obama wants so much to tell the American people what is good for them.  The people know what they want.  Let them decide.

Grace and Peace

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