Abdulhamid Tarbush to Yemen Times: “The Forum Includes all Arab Political Forces” [Archives:2001/34/Interview]

August 20 2001

The establishment of the Arab Revolutionary and Democratic Forum, formed in the eighties, raised controversy not only in Yemen but also in the other Arab states.
Many Arab countries, including Yemen, had reservations on the formation of this forum which used to include the different political trends present in the Arab world.
The forum’s aim was to formulate an independent Arab project encompassing dimensions such as emancipation, democracy and humanity. The main facet behind the the forum creation was pan-Arabism, but most of the Arab regimes were suspicious about its formation.
Regarding the agreements, disagreements, and the pan-Arab emancipatory terms, Mohammed bin Sallam of Yemen Times conducted the following interview with Abdulhamid Tarbush, a member of the General Secretariat of the Arab Democratic & Revolutionary Dialogue Forum:
Q: What is the Arab Democratic & Revolutionary Forum?
A: Many ideologies emerged during the eighties and were accompanied by many international events. These events, particularly the collapse of the Socialist block and Soviet Union, had a huge effect on the Arab world. Since then, the emergence of the notorious notion of globalization, which is aimed at dominating the poor and the undeveloped nations all over the world, also has had an impact on the region. Moreover, the new world order led by the US has just been another form of hegemony against the third world countries. Consequently, many Arab intellectuals raised their concern the position of the Arab world among these massive international forces. As a response, a historical initiative was made by the Libyan Leader Moa’mar Qathafi who called all the political, intellectual and popular movements in the Arab world for dialogue as a first step to find address these concerns.
The revolutionary committees, set up by the Libyan leader, assumed the responsibility of supervising the dialogues which resulted in a common agreement engulfing all Arab political trends. This decision led to the actual start of the forum in March 1990 and the organization of conference with attendants from all the Arab political and intellectual forces, organizations and parties representing Islamic, national and Marxist trends. The conference resulted in the approval of the literature and the forum’s program. A coordination and a follow-up committee was also created and given the responsibility of organizing and coordinating the dialogue.
Q: What are the achievements of the forum in previous years?
A: The forum’s achievements are numerous and can be outlined as follows:
The forum has succeeded to establish friendly and working relations between the various trends in the Arab world despite their ideological differences. Moreover, the forum has been successful in creating a common view that represents all the political and intellectual forces involved. The issues of pan-Arab unity and social and economic justice for all Arabs have also been highlighted brought up by the forum. Yet, the forum’s most precious achievement has been the successful adoption of a common agenda shared by all Arab popular forces.
However, the forum had been subjected to different obstacles and hassles set by the oppressive Arab regimes. However, with more persistence and resolution, we will be able to overcome these difficulties and move on.
Q: How do you evaluate Yemeni role in the forum?
A: His role was very important, specially at the first and the second stages of the establishment of the forum, but, frankly speaking, his role has been less active since then. One of the reasons is the weakness of internal coordination among that different forces and parties. A local conference is nevertheless to be held soon during which a national coordination and follow-up committee will be elected.
Q: What about coordination with official bodies?
A: There is no coordination with official bodies as all the forum’s activities do not involve any official entity. However, some of the ruling parties can have access to the forum, particularly if they have approved the program of the forum. The People’s General Congress in Yemen, as one of the founding members of the forum, can access the forum.
Q: What about the future vision of the forum?
A: The future vision of the forum and its activities will be shaped by the challenges of the upcoming period.
Q: How do you evaluate cooperation among the Arab states?
A: The size of cooperation among the Arab states has been so far so limited and sometimes inexistent. I call all the Arab states through the Yemen Times to act promptly in order to achieve deeper cooperation, particularly regarding the Arab common market.
Q: Do you think that terms like Pan-Arab nationality and unity are still alive?
A: Actually, the on-going events in the international arena dictate any nation to protect its identity and specificities against the so-called globalization which aims at assimilating the different nationalities in a single globalized identity. We, the Arabs, have our own distinctive religious and cultural identity which cannot be sacrificed for the sake of globalization. Moreover, the rejection of the notion of globalization by so many countries is a proof that they are unwilling to relinquish their identities. Some people termed the pan-Arab nationality as an old-fashion concept. This shows their defeatism and how they are easily misled by the Western imperialist philosophy. The pan-Arab nationality will survive with its human content in an effort to carry out its liberal role besides the other world nations.
Q: Since your forum is not only revolutionary but also democratic…. How can you reconcile these two opposite concepts?
A: The political revolutionary concept has taken a different dimension since it no longer depends on upheavals. Moreover, revolutions have to come from the entire population and not from a specific group. The late Arab leader Jamal Abdulnassir was correct when he defined revolution as the historic revolutionary movement to change the situation from status quo to the aspired one. Furthermore, revolutions are not adventures but an approach to improve the society’s condition. As for democracy, it is a political system adopted by the regime.
Q: How do you evaluate the democratic situation in Yemen?
A: Going through the different stages of human history, I do not think that a real and ideal democracy has been yet found If we look closer to the democratic situation in Yemen, democracy is not more than a publicized notion even though it is not more than publicizing for one has to admit the prevalence of a relative democratic atmosphere in Yemen. The existence of different political parties in the Yemeni arena is also another proof of that.