Contemplating on a unique political and humanitarian experience [Archives:2008/1180/Opinion]

August 11 2008

Nasr Taha Mustafa
Any observer of the history of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his reign over the past 30 years is bound to discover very important notes in the style and the way the veteran leader administers affairs of governance. The system of governance seems to have clearly and evidently developed despite all the difficulties Saleh faced when he first assumed power.

Saleh managed to overcome the numerous difficulties and complications facing his rule despite weakness of the central state during his early days in power. In addition, his intelligence by instinct and his direct interaction with the political life helped him run the country affairs efficiently.

Since an early time, his intelligence and direct interaction with the political life helped him understand the governance requirements very quickly, however, he is a professional soldier, who came from a military institution and was involved in many battles in defense of the Revolution and the Republic since it was first established and until the national reconciliation in 1970.

Saleh maintained closer relations with political and military leaders, who had been partners in administering the nation until the July 13th Movement in 1974 came for him to be an effective partner in decision making, particularly as he enjoyed good relations with late presidents Ibrahim Al-Hamdi and Ahmad Al-Ghashmi while he was serving as Commander of Taiz Military Division.

These matters help us realize the multiple internal political issues, as well as other issues related with the external relations, but not with all their details as Saleh necessarily realized them when he was elected President of Yemen.

The surprising thing, which aroused curiosity of the veteran leaders who were present when Saleh first assumed power and were casting doubt on his capability to contain more sensitive and complicated issues at the internal and external levels is that he demonstrated great self-confidence since the first moment until the extent that he took partial decisions by measuring thorough conditions during the first months of his reign. Saleh's predecessors could not take such decisions he made over the first four years of his reign.

Undoubtedly, his competence which appeared quickly encouraged all those veteran politicians to review their fears and concerns, as well as back him to remove all the booby-trapped mines, which had been planted in the different spheres of political business.

It was a transformation without any political deduction and then strong development in the various economic and political areas.

In fact, whenever I contemplate on Saleh's historical decision with regard to return of the former presidents Marshal Abdullah Al-Sallal and Judge Abdurrahman Al-Eryani, may Allah have mercy on them, to the homeland from exile, I find myself surprised by his bravery and self-confidence for two simple reasons. First, I personally know the great efforts expended by Al-Sallal during the reigns of presidents Ahmad Al-Ghashmi and Ibrahim Al-Hamdi as he saw no response from either.

Second, President Saleh allowed both leaders to return home in September 1981 while conditions in the northern part of Yemen were inflaming as a result of fierce clashes between the army and Marxist militias in the midlands.

The exaggerative individuals had been continuously suggesting to Al-Ghashmi and Al-Hamdi that return of both exiled leaders will destroy a verdict issued against them since they enjoy notable popularity and nationwide respect. They were of the opinion that their return might constitute a real risk to the system of governance.