Following a request from Yemen’s President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is hosting a three-day Yemeni dialogue conference in Riyadh which began on Sunday.
All Yemeni political parties and groups, with the exception of the Houthi militias and deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are participating in the conference.
Talks are aimed at supporting the legitimacy of state institutions using the Gulf initiative and the decisions of the U.N. Security Council as the basis for the talks to result in effective decisions that would be obligatory for all parties to implement.
President Hadi, Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and around 400 delegates are in Riyadh today with leading factions including the Sunni Islah party, Socialists and members of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s political party, the General People’s Congress, are in attendance.
After the coup attempt on the legitimate government back in September 2014 which led to the crisis and Saudi-led strikes on Houthi targets, political factions in the country have been at a standstill.
The conference will allow for factions to participate in the dialogue, in hopes of a solution to end the Yemen crisis. Here is your guide to the main five factions taking part.
1. General People’s Congress
The General People’s Congress (GPC) is Yemen’s ruling and most prominent political party. It was founded in 1982 under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh based on the ideology of Arab nationalism and unity. It had been a powerful force in Yemeni politics since the country’s unification in 1990.
The party’s founder, Saleh, served as president of Yemen from 1990 until early 2012. Although Saleh resigned from office under the pressure of the Arab Spring-inspired revolution of 2011, the GPC continued to hold both majority in the Assembly as well as the presidency under Saleh’s successor, Hadi. However in September 2014, Houthi militants forcibly dissolved parliament, which lead to the current Yemen crisis.
2. Al-Islah Party
The al-Islah party, also known as the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, is an Islamist party founded in 1990. It is politically identified as an organization that seeks reform in all aspects of life on the basis of Islamic principles and teachings.
Predominantly Sunni, it is the main opposition party in Yemen. It draws both Islamist and tribal elements together. Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood is part of it, as well as Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a Salafist preacher.
3. Yemeni Socialist Party
The Yemeni Socialist party was based on Marxist-Leninist theory and was the ruling party in South Yemen before unification in 1990, however it is now a democratic socialist opposition party in unified Yemen.
Abdul Fattah Ismail was its first leader when it was inaugurated in 1978, but was later replaced as president by Ali Nasser Muhammad in 1980.
The party survived much turmoil in Yemen, including the collapse of the Soviet Union, as South Yemen was a communist state that had close political relations with the USSR.
4. Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization
The Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization is a political party that was founded in Taez in 1965 and legalized in 1989.
The core principles of the party is based on the socialist Arab nationalist political ideology and thinking of Gamal Abdel Nasser, one of the two principal leaders of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and Egypt’s second president.
In 2011, the party participated in the Yemeni uprising against Saleh.
5. Al-Ahmar family
Sheikh Abdullah bin Husayn bin Nasser al-Ahmar was a politician and tribal leader in Yemen. He was speaker of the Assembly of Representatives of Yemen from 1993 to 2007 and was the Sheikh of the Hashid tribal federation and the Al-Islah party.
After his death in 2007, his son Sadeq bin Abdullah bin Hussein bin Nasser al-Ahmar succeeded him in the positions of the Sheikh of the Hashid tribal federation and the al-Islah tribal confederacy.
Regarded as one of Yemen’s most prominent, influential and powerful tribal family, they were considered to be one of Saleh’s main political challenges. In recent months, violent clashes have been reported between the Houthis and al-Ahmar members.