Yemen, Mansour al-Nogaidan and Al-Islah
The Brotherhood’s Al-Islah party will come back stronger in Yemen after the fall of its Houthi rivals
In an interesting article entitled “Yemen post-liberation: The dangers of division and the return of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Mansour al-Nogaidan drew attention to the future of Yemen from a Saudi-Emirati point of view very close to his own.
Whether there are one or two Yemens, the important thing is that they do not go to war with each other or become hostile to the Gulf states. It would be better not to deal with the issue of southern independence until the full liberation of Yemen. Then Yemenis can decide for themselves between unity, separation or federalism. They should do that without armed conflict as there has been enough war, hunger and misery.
Whether there are one or two Yemens, the important thing is that they do not go to war with each other or become hostile to the Gulf statesJamal Khashoggi
Nogaidan’s article highlights above all the danger of the Brotherhood’s return. According to him, it has returned to play a bigger and more dangerous political role than expected. The Brotherhood is taking part in Yemen’s governance. According to Nogaidan, who is a meticulous researcher, since the end of the civil war in 1970 and the 41 years of the Yemeni republic, the Brotherhood has sided with revolution, including the one in 2011.
Yemen’s Brotherhood was involved in the “third alternative” project in the civil war that was backed by the late Saudi King Faisal at the start of his struggle with then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The project put forward the idea of an Islamic state instead of royal and republican systems. This movement was formed and led by the late Ibrahim al-Wazir, who was highly educated and part of a prominent Hashemite family.
The Brotherhood participated directly in the 1948 reformist revolution from its headquarters in Cairo. This cross-border participation created the first rift between the Brotherhood and the Saudi kingdom, which started to grow suspicious of the movement and its aspirations.
An insightful politician takes historical junctures into account and uses them for the benefit of his cause, as did King Faisal. The “third alternative” attracted a number of republican tribal elders to the kingdom’s ranks, even if it happened at the expense of its allies, the royal house and the Hamidaddin clan.
Moreover, one of the most prominent intellectuals Mohammed al-Zubairi was assassinated in northern Yemen while on his way to meet King Faisal in Saudi Arabia, after he broke away from the republicans and formed Hezbollah, which called for an Islamic government rather than a monarchy or republic.
As such, the idea of a “third alternative” seeking wise governance in Yemen is old, was multi-faceted, and does not concern the Brotherhood alone. What happened in Yemen after the military took charge and almost forced out King Faisal’s favorite to rule Yemen, Judge Abdul Rahman al-Iryani, was illusion.
The current multilateral struggle between the Houthis, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), intellectuals, the southern Herak movement and the Brotherhood serves the mother cause: searching for an appropriate formula of wise governance in an unhappy Yemen.
Is the Brotherhood’s “return” a source of danger in Yemen? Of course not. The danger resides in the return of tyranny and the authority of a singular force over a country with different sects, orientations and tribes. Brotherhood monopolization of power in Yemen is as dangerous as the single-handed authority of the Houthis allied to Iran, which sparked the current war. The list goes on with Saleh, who wrongly monopolized power.
The Brotherhood’s Al-Islah party will come back stronger in Yemen after the fall of its Houthi rivals and its former ally Saleh. It is the third force left in the north after the fall of the two other forces thanks to the Saudi-led coalition. It would be unwise to repress Al-Islah and consider it a terrorist group. This would make it turn to Al-Qaeda, though the differences between them are huge.
Nogaidan proposes stopping “the support of Al-Islah and the strengthening of its influence,” and allowing it “to be weighted normally according to the rules of the new civil life, which prohibits the exploitation of religion and sectarianism, and embraces everyone.” This is the wisest thing to do.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on August 25, 2015.
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi
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