The leader whom we tyrannized [Archives:2005/901/Opinion]

December 8 2005

By Abdulbari Tahir

Late liberal politician Mohamed Noman was a pioneer enlightenment leader. He was one of the first founders of the liberty movement. He used to have deep experience, vision and the most important of all is that he was a civil peaceful democrat. His deep insight provoked against him, even his close colleagues, and many other political parties. He was one of the most nonviolent Arab politicians. He used to believe in peaceful democratic development. In the early talks of the Liberal Party in Aden, he objected to violence and to the assassination of the Imam Yahia. He also refused the hurried changes in power. The dialogues between Al-zubiry, Al-noman, Al-shami and Al-fodiel reveal the deep insight of Al-noman.

When Imam Yahia was killed, Noman suggested that his colleagues should not go to Sana'a. His opinion was that their presence in Taiz will be a consolidation to the revolution and will minimize the casualties among the rebels. He proved to be right. His suggestions were wrongly interpreted and he was compelled to go to Sana'a with his colleagues, to face arrests and executions.

Noman's responsibility for the Liberals financial affairs saved them from many threats. The experience of Al-zubiry in Cairo proved the correctness of Noman's point of view. Noman refused the Kholan revolution in the early sixties and suggested the establishment of Bilqis college instead. Kholan revolution was led by Al-Ghadir and Al-zaidi and backed by Sheikh Sinan Abu Lohoom, Al-zubiry, Muhsin Al-aini, Mohamed Ahmed Sha'lan and the head of the Yemeni Union Mohamed Ali Al-aswadi. Their differences were not of a sectarian nature, they were merely different point of views. Noman's insight made him oppose the futile exchange of the Imam with a tribal chief or a military leader. He thought that a Sheikh is a legacy of the past with its illiteracy and armed backwardness. In his view, the rebellion tribe would quickly go back to the authority of the leader when they receive crumples of payments and Alms. He believed that the right endeavor was in spreading education. Events proved that he was right.

It is a pity that his suggestions aroused splits among his party's colleagues and some elements in the Yemeni association. This difference persisted until the post revolution era. The liberals did not evaluate their experience and modern political parties did not do it either. While the Yemeni liberals were wronged by the Marxists and the new national forces, Noman was wronged by all. He was often accused of sectarianism and regionalism by modern Marxists and reactionary forces. This reached a climax by sending him into exile.

Noman was not always right or certain, but he was brave in confronting every one. He stood in the face of Imam as well as in the face of Jamal Abdul Nasir to tell him that his leaders in Yemen were corrupted. He even criticized his major supporters like Abulhakim Amer and Sadat. This instigated all against him.

It is a pity that Noman was not judged correctly despite the fact that the military rule had resulted in catastrophes, and that the absence of liberty led the Arab revolutions to tyranny corruption and defeats that Arab nations still suffer.

Noman's letters and his documents are very important and still have the momentum that the Arab world lacks. I met Noman in 1964 when he was the head of the Shora council. I was elected as representative of our village Al-marawa'ah. The election used to be a collection of signatures of the chiefs. I met him with Noman Qaid Bin Rajeh. Mr. Qaid introduced me to him saying that the people of Zabid are Angles. Noman said that we want them devils and not Angles.

The revolutionaries and nationalists looked upon the liberals' movement as a traditional movement whose time is over. Leftist accused Noman of being a representative of feudalism.

Noman was sarcastic towards our inexperienced judgment. His call for dialogue with the royalists was one of the causes of our dispute with him. He was one of the main organizers of Khamir conference. He was one of the distinct callers for reconciliation. He paid for his brave call, because he was the one who made the contacts and prepared the way for the conference. His colleagues and students acquired the gains of the reconciliation. He only received the curses.

The legacy of reactionary, which is our ailment, led us to exile Noman while we used to carry out his suggestions anyway. This happened following his return to Yemen after the revolution.

It is a must that we should honor and publish the autobiography of great men such as Abdulrhman Alirian, Abdullah Al-Salal and the Abdulsalam Sabra. The important effort that Dr Ali Mohamed Zaid did by publishing Noman's autobiography is not enough. The ambassador Adullah and Mustafa, sons of Noman know this fact. The autobiography of these leaders should not be concealed for unforeseen reasons.

Establishment of the rights of these patriotic leaders and to Noman in particular, in addition the reassessment of the past experiences, should not be understood as an admiration or acceptance of the dominance of traditional right wing forces. It is also not a disheartening because of what is going on in Iraq and Palestine. Acknowledging the right of our leaders and criticizing our experiences is a step in the right direction for the modernization forces to make distinct self-confrontation. Freedom and democracy battles are not fought without deep exploration of patriotic history of national struggle.