The Allies’ Covert Conflict [Archives:2000/32/Law & Diplomacy]

August 7 2000

The question is still aroused about the recent uproar raging between official press and media ,on the one hand and certain parties in the Yemeni Congregation for Reform on the other.
The whole issue is rather still cloaked with ambiguity. In an abnormally harsh language “Al-Thawra” official daily, along with “Al-Jamhouriyah” and “Al-Meethaq” newspapers, have lashed out at Sheikh Abdulmajeed Al-Zindani, Chairman of Islah Shoora Council, the president of Al-Eiman University. He was accused of blaspheming and infidelizing pressmen, including the Ministry of Information. This too was considered as an insult to the Ministry and its officials.
The story began with the re-publication by “Al-Thaqafiyah” weekly of a fiction: “Sana’a – An Open City” written by the late Yemeni laureate, Muhammed Abdul Wali, which made the Secretary General of YRC, Muhammed Al-Yadoumi, adopt a stand against “Al-Thaqafiyah”, published by “Al-Jamhouriyah” press Establishment, Taiz.
Yadoumi saw that “Al-Thaqafiyah” has ‘published’ a fiction which offended God’s identity describing Him as cruel.
Two weeks ago, the “Yemen Times” had published an interview with Mr. Sameer Al-Yousufi, Editor-in-Chief of “Al-Thaqafiyah”, who claimed that Yadoumi had threatened to close down his paper and seek disciplinary action against him.
Although the beginning of the drama seemed to have been a conflict going on between the ruling People’s General Congress (PGC) and the YRC over the fiction ; other dimensions have now come to the surface beside several other reasons which are still pouring in from time to time. All point to immense political objectives with the aim of using these as a kind of political bidding for a coming electoral season.
Some mosques preachers had launched bitter attacks against “Al-Thaqafiyah” and its editor-in-chief. Blasphemy was used during the attacks and civil suits were submitted to courts after monitoring disapproval (in form of signatures collecting etc.) by religious men, supporters of Zindani and his Al-Eiman University students.
The political motives behind the exchange of attacks are quite clear and with proofs indicating that:
Thirty-one Yemeni religious scholars had issued a signed statement. Then a procession took place, headed by Sheikh Omer Ahmed Saif, a GPC figure who is the guide of its “Mithaq”, but the ruling party did not assail him in its papers. On the contrary it attacked Al-Zindani in person away from his party. Surprisingly another social-scientific personality not less important than Zindani also came under official attack without any prelude.
Official media claimed that the dubious Al-Eiman University was not licensed ; but the fact is that it was blessed and officially inaugurated by the President. It was he who laid the foundation stone of this university and urged businessmen to support it financially.
Political observers pointed out that when the State alleged that the university was operating illegally, it had, without being aware, denied its supervision and follow-up of the university as if pronouncing its inability to shoulder its responsibility.
Fears are hovering from these savage attacks mainly if we recall that similar attacks between the GPC and Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) had in the summer of 1994 led to hostilities which claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and military men and left Yemen burdened with debts.
Since last Thursday these fears began to slow down gradually after the holding of a reconciliatory meeting at the residence of Deputy President, attended by both Al-Akwa’, Minister of Information and Al-Zindani. The first measure agreed upon was halting the media campaign between the two parties, thus paving the way for a total reconciliation.
Inquiries arose on the other political dimensions which led to the media attacks mainly because blasphemy did not only involve “Al-Thaqafiyah” but included “Al-Hikma” of the Yemeni Writers’ Union and “Al-Sahwa” weekly, mouthpiece of the YRC which re-produced “Al-Hikma’s” article.
Of these political dimensions is the linkage with the forthcoming parliamentary and local government elections within a period less than a year and other stances linked with normalization of relations with the Zionist entity, economic reform through introduction of fresh economic potions and price hike, shielding the Morgue Case and corruption. Much feared within the exchange of attacks between yesterday’s partners, today’s enemies is the indulgence of the YSP by both sides who claimed that the YSP seduced and moved these crises in an attempt to avenge its sufferings from the 1994 GPC-YRC-led war which threw it out of rule.
Despite all these, the covert dimensions in the dispute between the two allies remain ambiguous. Current events affirm that these are cloaked with politics and religion is used as a mask particularly because threats traded by the two sides confirm the opening of old dossiers which could lead to chaos and confrontation and perhaps war!
Despite all these attacks, observers are still skeptical about what is going on and describe it as a drama being played by both the GPC and the YRC.
An eye-catching factor is the attitude of the opposition parties which until now could not define its stand towards these events. Perhaps they could not reach to the depth; but the forthcoming days may clear the hazy Yemeni political scene.