Islah and YSP tensionRekindling old fires [Archives:2003/686/Opinion]

November 17 2003

By Mohammed al-Ghubari
Opposition parties in Yemen are working hard on wrapping up the disputes between the Reform Party (Islah) and the Yemeni Socialists Party (YSP). The disputes resulted from a rumor of a religious advice referred to prominent scholar Abdulmajid al-Zindani in which he termed the former speaker of parliament and the socialist leader Dr. Yassin Saeed Noman as an atheist.
Through calls and meetings leaders in the opposition are trying to bridge the gap between the Islah and the YSP, a gap that brought back memories of the crisis Yemen witnessed in 1993, which lead eventually to a war where more than 10,000 soldiers were killed, and in which the whole military force of the YSP was destroyed.
Islah provoked the public against the YSP and its leadership, considering them as forces working against Islam. If the peace messengers are careful, the “Common Meeting Assembly” alliances between the opposition parties will remain intact, countering the power party’s wishes. Yet it seems reality is against the alliance, and facts are indicating that differences between the two parties are more than could be bridged.
The YSP is more inclined to the modern secular approach where rights and freedoms, law and order come first, whereas the Islam follows a political approach wearing a religious dress, which puts Islamic beliefs and principles and the religious identity above anything else.

State has more power
The International circumstances inherited from what is termed as war against terrorism has strengthened the power of state in Sana’a, which declared its early allegiance to the international alliance against terrorism, and entered a security and military cooperation with the United States of America.
While it seemed that the Islah party has become in-demand internally, considering it’s the strongest opposition, and the one eligible to ruling, externally is seems it’s affiliated to the Islamic groups seen as groups of terrorism.
Also, the declaration of the Islah political office, denouncing the religious statement terming the socialist leader as an atheist, conveys the party’s disagreement with the fanatic approach of some of its own members lead by Abdulmajid al-Zindani.
Yet this declaration seemed to cause more arguments than answers, as it considered what comes from the individuals remotely from their leading positions, a personal opinion to which they would be accounted for according to the executing laws.
It was an issue that was rejected in the opposition, particularly the YSP considering what religious men and scholars declare is sacred and receives acceptance amongst the religious mediums, especially the fanatic ones.
And since this was the feeling, the YSP who had spent two years working with the Islah party, seemed more objecting to the delay of its issues and demands posed since the assassination of Jar Allah Omar during the opening session of the Islah general conference last year.
The YSP openly demanded that the Islah Party declares its stand in the issue of religious condemnation of the Southern and Eastern citizens that took place during the 1994 summer crises, and which was pronounced by Dr. Abdulwahhab al-Dailami, minister of justice, then and the leader in the Islah Party.
The YSP added its demand that the YSP should have a clear stance against the speech which termed the YSP leaders and atheists and traitors demanding that religion nationalism and Arabism are not concepts confided to one political party or group and that the YSP is a civil political party that operates under the laws and constitution just like any other in the country.

Fears are linked to fanatics
The probability is that the YSP fears and those of a wide sector of intellectuals and politicians regarding the religious statements and the relating acts violence, those fears are not linked to the Reform Party – Islah – as an establishment but it is linked to the extremist and fanatic groups who are active within this party and who are related to leading personalities such as al-Zindani who is well respected among all the religious sides legislatively and politically.
The assassination of Jar Allah Omar and before 150 of the socialist’s cadres is an example of what follows after religious declarations where members of the Islah party are not guiltless of provoking and instigating such acts.
The YSP leadership said that in order to sustain the “common meeting assembly’s unity” the Islah party should take a number of procedures, firstly to condemn the atheist-religious declarations, to cancel those stated in the past and to conclude with a clear declaration of the relations between religion and politics, as well as to commit to the constitution and law as the only reference in contradicting to the “Rule is for God” slogan which is been promoted by the Islamic groups.
The ruling party who had been using the incident to increase the opposition’s and intellectuals’ fears regarding the proximity with the Islah Party, has not stopped declaring through its leaders that it is willing to have a political dialogue with the Socialist Party – YSP.
It even stated that the YSP has got its preserved status especially as it was the partner in the creation of the Yemeni Unity in 1990. Moreover, it even went to the extent of using the some of the returned socialists who had left the country post the civil war to promote the idea of getting closer to the ruling party regarding it as the nearest party in programs to the YSP instead of the Islah Party which is considered quite remote in this aspect.
The irony in this battle, which has broken the apathy in the Yemeni political arena, that prominent leaders in the Islah party are pointing accusing fingers to the ruling party criticizing it of working in favor of the dividing between the opposition parties through using fanatic elements to serve the ruling party’s purposes, an event which would weaken the Islah Party and cause divisions in its lines using statements and stances of some of its members.
Those Islah leaders accusing the ruling party of playing this role confirm that it is not serious in fighting extremism and terrorism; otherwise it would have taken penalizing measures against all those who produce stances and statements that create internal disputes, where the authorities had earlier adopted the publishing of a book titles “Naseeha” – Advice, in which the Islah parties are accused in becoming alliances to the seculars and letting go of the Islamic beliefs and oaths, the very books which created disputes within the Islah party before it was discovered that the conservative wing in the party was the one who prepared the book while others were responsible for printing and publishing it.

Court decision, old wounds
Now, in the midst of Ramdan, we await an order for the Court of Appeal to look again into the assassination of Jar Allah Omar, the case in which the verdict in the primary court had given a death sentence to the criminal. This promises to be a furious confrontation between the opposition’s left, the YSP, and its right wing the Reform party.
As the former will demand, the reinvestigation in the assassination involves interviewing three of the most well-known fundamentalists, whose names had been mentioned in the case papers as funding elements of the criminal Ali al-Sawani or as sympathizers with his beliefs.
It will also open old books of when the Islah party accused the YSP of being the oppressing side during the civil war, as it had been stated when Islah took its place on the ruling party’s side.