The gesture comes at a time when Yemeni political alliances–and those with the Saudi-led coalition–are in flux
On anniversary of Saleh's death, Islah reaches out to the former president's party
On the anniversary of ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh's death, the spokesman of Yemen’s main opposition Islah party signaled the need for a political rapprochement with Saleh’s dominant General People’s Congress (GPC) in order to defeat the Houthis.
Ali Al-Jaradi, the head of media relations of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform Party (otherwise referred to as “Islah”), said on Twitter Monday that the fray between the republican elites of Yemen is the main cause for the rise of the Houthis.
It marked one of a handful of overtures Islah has made to the GPC since Saleh allied with the Houthis to overthrow Yemen’s internationally recognized government in 2014. The Houthis murdered Saleh on December 2, 2017, but many GPC members have remained part of the ruling Houthi government. Al-Jaradi’s remarks represented Islah’s only statement on the anniversary of Saleh’s assassination, and they come at a time when Saudi Arabia is engaged in peace talks with the Houthis and other political alliances around the country remain in flux.
"We will only be able to restore the republic again with the unity of the republican and national ranks and by overcoming ourselves and all the small benefits that do not live up to the level befitting the Republic of Yemen," Al-Jaradi said in a tweet.
The Houthi rise to power was a “return of the Imamate in its Iranian version,” he said, referring to a dynasty of Zaidi Shia Imams that ruled northern Yemen until republican revolutionaries defeated the royalists and founded the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962. During the imamate, Yemen’s rulers came exclusively from Sayyid families who traced their bloodline to the Prophet Mohammed. Many Yemenis fear that the Houthis, who have Sayyid roots, will revive the class-based system in which non-Sayyids, particularly tribes, were marginalized.
“The Houthis are not a political party and will not be because their ideology is based on the racial superiority of its descendants and the enslavement of the rest of the citizens,” Al-Jaradi said in a tweet.
While primarily aimed at the GPC party, Al-Jaradi’s anti-Houthi message to restore a unified Yemeni republic also signal opposition to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which has sought secession of southern governorates along the lines of the former South Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition, seeking to restore the internationally recognized government (which includes Islah) to power, brokered a power sharing deal between the STC and President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi earlier this month to head off secession for now. The Riyadh Agreement is currently being implemented in the interim capital Aden.