Yemen Socialist Party [Archives:1999/07/Law & Diplomacy]

February 15 1999
Political Parties Series: #4
Starting with issue number 4 of January 25th, 1999, Yemen Times is running profiles of the political parties of Yemen.
We print the information as received from the parties.
The aim is to inform the public – local and international.
The Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) has passed through four main stages since its establishment on March 9, 1979. This came in the unification conference which stated that the YSP is the legitimate inheritor of all of the Yemeni nationalist movements which worked for the nation’s liberation and revolution.
The First Stage
The YSP’s formation was the result of a union of two groups, one that worked in all of Yemen, and the second that limited its activity to the southern part of the country. The first group included a number of parties:
(a) Al Ba’ath was established in Aden in 1958 and it was split in 1972 into two main groups. The first was either loyal to the Ba’ath party in Iraq or to its rival in Syria. The second called itself the popular pioneering party and followed the Marxist Leninist policies. That party also later was divided into two sections, one in the south and the other in the north which became part of the YSP.
(b) The Pan-Arab Nationalist group which was created in 1959 and indulged in armed struggle for the liberation of the southern area of the country.
(c) The Marxist trend which was weakened due to the Arab Nationalists’ hostility. It formed the People’s Democratic Union in the north which later merged in the Socialist Party.
The second group included six parties that limited their activities to the southern part of the country, some of which shared in the ruling authority.
The Second Stage
The YSP’s second stage covered the sixties and mid seventies during which the world witnessed a period of socialist expansion, especially in Third World countries.
In Yemen, only the People’s Democratic Union was formed as a Marxist party and later other groupings such as the nationalist front, which ruled southern Yemen, the Yemeni Revolutionary Democratic Party, the Popular Pioneering Party and the Labor Party gradually declared their commitment to Marxist ideology. The leftist parties in Yemen then competed to prove that they were more Marxist than one another.
The Third Stage
The third stage was the unification one, when the National Front, the Unionist People’s Democratic Party and the Popular Pioneering Party signed a unification agreement on February 5, 1975 to establish the national front which was the one and only ruling party in what was then South Yemen. Other leftist parties signed a similar agreement one year later but which later witnessed the withdrawal of the Ba’ath party.
At the same time, leftist parties in Yemen, north and south, opened a dialogue on political activities leading to the revolutionary change and unification of Yemen. They resolved to establish a pioneering party in the south that would struggle for the downfall of the regime in the north and declare the establishment of the unified Yemeni state and signed an agreement to that effect on September 12, 1978.
The leftist parties in the north each held their own conference then held their first unification conference on March 8, 1979 which agreed to establish the Yemeni Socialist party in the south and the People’s Unity Party in the north that would merge following unification of Yemen.
On March 9, 1979, the unification conference was held in Aden, without official announcement, in which two political programs were passed for the south and the north with one party leadership.
The party’s main goals in the south was establishing socialism without passing through the capitalist stage as a transitory period. The party’s main target in the north, however, was to pave the way for revolutionary changes in the north and establishment of the unified Yemen.
The Fourth Stage
The fourth and final stage started in 1987 when theoretical changes in the party began including the talks on nationalist merger to overcome backwardness. The Party also spoke of democratic instead of revolutionary change in the north. The Party called for drafting a new concept for unity of Yemen that benefits from experiments of both regimes in north and south via peaceful means and on a democratic basis. The YSP relinquished the old economic concepts and endorsed the market economy, and democracy and liberal policies became the party’s new political path.
The YSP’s fourth general conference last November endorsed those basic new doctrines.