2003 elections may be tight in two heated districts Mareb and Jawf: Fertile political ground [Archives:2002/44/Focus]

October 28 2002

Observers view some Islamic groups who started their activities in parts of Yemen in the early 1980s as dangerous, particularly in light of political changes Yemen has witnessed after unification, and the conflict between national and socialist trends.
Mareb governorate and Jawf are two territories where these groups are active, at a time when the world witnesses border demarcation with Saudi Arabia, which is the origin of these Islamic groups.
The Islamic groups in Jawf expanded their existence in the region due to the conditions of the remote tribal community, and its capacity to take in religious sermons. Further, some of these Islamic leaders started to integrate their political arrangement with Islah ” the brothers trend” considering it as the political group closest to their thinking.
Thus, they started to address communities under the name of missionary and religious work and they benefited most from the political conditions supporting Islah candidates to win the elections in 1997.
In Mareb, Islah got a little support when electoral constituencies were divided equally between it and GPC and Socialist party. However, in the 1997 elections, the competition between the main two parties Islah and GPC resulted in the win of Islah in the two constituencies (300-301).
It is evident that the Islamic groups in which Mareb and Jawf are its center, are witnessing serious challenges in the upcoming elections of 2003. The GPC has strong candidates and the support of the armed forces.
But through our observations of their political activities and religious work, it is expected that they will exert efforts to confront this political trend. There is pressure on these groups to employee all the tactics from social leaders who receive their support from Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the GPC is insisting to win back these two governorates. The GPC is fully recognizing the seriousness of the Islamic trend in these two governorates, which has a wide base of tribal support. It also recognizes the potential that creates for violence.