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The politics of survival and the structure of control in the unified Yemen 1990-97

   

By Ahmed Abdel-Karim Saif

MA dissertation, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, September, 1997.


CONTENTS

  1. Introduction

  2. Problematic Issues

  3. The Yemeni Experience 

  4. Institutional changes and controlling framework

  5. Conclusion

    Footnotes (plus acknowledgements, abbreviations,  appendices and bibliography.


1. Introduction

WITH THE ADVENT of the 1990s the Yemen entered a new era, which represented a watershed in the political history of the Yemen. The unification had been achieved, Yemeni workers had lost their preferential status in the GCC, new institutions had been created and others had disappeared, while two mass elections had taken place. Some of the prosperous developments were tarnished by a ruthless civil war, which lasted for about two months and which resulted in the diminishing of one of the two main creators of the unification, the YSP. This took place at the expense of the expansion of democracy.

Two main features characterised Yemeni politics during the period 1990-1997. The first was the struggle for power among the political elite, where conflict rather than co-operation predominated. A wide range of manoeuvring policies were applied, ranging from coalitions to large scale war. For this reason, the politics of survival were given a priority, while the building of a nation sate lagged behind. The second was that from the very outset of unification the country suffered a sever economic recession, which started with the expulsion of the expatriates from the GCC shortly after the declaration of unification. This was a reflex action indicating the Yemeni point of view in the Gulf crisis. The results of this were exacerbated by the termination of most external aid as a direct result. This, added to the poor performance of the government, the modest revenues derived from the hydrocarbon sector with the uncertainty of its future, has had considerable repercussions on the economy and consequently on the people.

The above mentioned issues have been pursued analytically in this research, which is divided into five sections. The first of which is an introduction, which acts as prologue to the research.

The second section covers problematical issues, where the conceptual problem has been identified. The distribution of power in the new Yemeni state and the attempts to overcome state weakness in the face of the fragmentation of social control is the main problem that has been addressed. With regards to this, different institutions were created or dissolved, the rivalry of elites and the politics of survival were considered collectively as part of the theoretical framework. Migdal's theory about the relationships between state and society in the third world has been used as a tool to explore the problem, for, although Migdal does not mention the Yemen in the case studies that he used, the theory has here been applied to the Yemeni case as it seems an appropriate tool for approaching the subject.

The third section has been subdivided into four categories. The first covers the Yemeni experience in the pre-unification period up to 1990, when the unified Yemen emerged. The distribution of power and the capacities of the state in the two former partitioned states have been examined. This required an analysis of the ways in which both states controlled social order and dealt with the power centres of society. The institutional changes that took place over time are revealed to facilitate the understanding of the socio-economic and political evolution that propelled Yemens into the unification process.

The second category refers to the interim period between unification in May 22, 1990 and April 27, 1993, when the first representative elections took place. This section aims to demonstrate the changes in the structure of control, either formal or informal, at both centre and peripheries. The interim period witnessed, on the one hand, a coalition between the two erstwhile regimes in order that the unity might be preserved, while the institutions necessary for the creation of a new state were set up. On the other hand, a parallel development which influenced the process of unification, avoided the merging of certain institutions such as the armies. This meant that no strong administrative foundations were established and that there was a concentration on policies of manoeuvre and a struggle for the consolidation of power. In addition, this all took place in an uncertain socio-economic context.

The third category reveals the changes that occurred after the first representative elections on April 27th, 1993. The structure of control changed and was accompanied by changes to both the formal and informal structures. This resulted in a new politics of balance.

The final category deals with the pre-conditions that led to the civil war in 1994 and with its aftermath. In this section, the reasons for the deterioration that led to the war have been traced. In addition, analysis has been made of the impact of the war on the power centres at both national and local levels.

The fourth section discusses the establishment of a new structure of control, which brought with it an institutional changes and where the power was redistributed. The post war period witnessed anew tacit struggle, which became much clearer after the second representative elections that took place on April 27th, 1997. In this section, analysis is concentrated on government strategy to re-arrange and consolidate the structure of control and also to mobilise resources and people, as well as, whether such strategy works or not. The defeat of the YSP created and/or revived a triangle of accommodation, which might be described as a consociational/corporatist experience, which can be examined in order to discover the government's formula for control. In addition, the characteristics of the Yemeni political parties that have impeded their political development have been sketched. There is, also, discussion of the economic situation taking into consideration the structural adjustment that has been implemented in co-operation jointly with the IMF and the World Bank. In the last, Migdal's conditions, which are prerequisites for the creation of a strong state have been applied to the Yemen and an assessment has been mooted for the creation of a potentially strong Yemeni state.

Finally, a conclusion was drawn, ending with an evaluation of the usefulness of Migdal's theory as a tool in studying the Yemeni case. Inevitably, critical assessment was made to ascertain to what degree this approach was useful and what were its limitations, if any, and to consider what alternative analytic tools might be used to fill the gaps. The conclusion, also, highlights the problems, which face the Yemeni state and limit its capacities, and which can break down the triangle of accommodation. So, it is worthwhile focusing on the future of the structure of control and its impact on democratisation in the Yemen.


2. Problematic issues

THE MAIN problem of the Yemen can be summarised as underdevelopment, which covers most aspects of both personal and public life. One aspect of this problem has been determined precisely and elaborated on exclusively in this research; this is the elites rivalry to assume power in a weakened state and a fragmented society, that has affected development processes and depleted the state resources. With regards to this, this research concentrates on the distribution of power in the new Yemeni state after the unification in 1990 and the attempts to overcome the weakness of the state in association with the fragmentation of the social order.

Although Yemeni unity was a predominant and popular goal, it was only achieved after many abortive attempts and materialised on 22 May 1990. Despite the formal appearance of unity, the two Yemens were amalgamated rather than integrated. In other words, there was a merger of previously independent units, but the institutions and practices have not developed to the point that "the peaceful exchange of interdependent expectations" could be assumed for a long time [Deutsch: 5-9].

The actual day of unification marked the beginning of a process of political integration. The fact that the Southern and Northern Yemenis felt a sense of common identity on cultural, historical and social levels was no guarantee in itself that political integration could be taken for granted. In reality, beneath the surface, the two political establishments, which had been joined but not merged, were both manoeuvring to maintain and/or expand their own autonomy and power [Hudson, 1995: 10].

On a formal level, structures of an integrated polity were established: constitution, parliament, elections and bureaucratic mergers. An arena for freer political expression was opened up; there was proliferation of the press, the establishment of political parties and associations and the convening of public conferences. However, on the level of applied politics, the two former authoritarian regimes approached the merger with a lack of good faith and trust in each other [Ibid.: 10]. At the same time that the General People's Congress (GPC), the ruling party of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), the ruling party of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) had both agreed ostensibly to a power-sharing formula on a roughly 50-50 basis, (although there was an 80-20 ratio in the population)1. These two establishments were also preparing fallback strategies and contingency plans for an expected conflict. Each side sought to develop its own military capabilities, paying only lip service to the principle of unification of the military. Each side cultivated support from outside. Both sides seemed to share an implicit interest in thwarting the development of independent political forces and in corrupting the attempts of the emerging civil society to enter Yemeni politics in an effective way.

Rather than collaborative, there emerged a conflictual context. The Yemeni political rivals have used all capacities they had to gain dominance and survival ranging from coalitions to war on a large scale. This competition for power and control peaked and consequently was reflected in institutional changes and a worsening the socio-economic situation. In the mean time, power centres have been involved representing economic, social and religious interests. Such a context of unrest was exacerbated by antagonistic regional attitudes and actions that resulted from the official Yemeni position towards the Gulf crisis.

In order to address the politics of survival and elite rivalry in gaining the power and controlling the social order in the Yemen, it has been found that Migdal's theory might be a useful tool with which to approach these issues.

Migdal [1988] explained that the prevalent literature on the Third World falls into two categories. The first, approaches societies at the ground level, focusing on peasants, patronage and nepotism. The second, focuses on the influential elements of society; the political elite, merchants, religious groups and so on. Migdal, however, criticised these studies on account of the first remaining enmeshed in the complexities of social life, while the latter assumed facilely that leaders could effectively repress, transform or reform the rest of society [Migdal: xvi].

Migdal offers an alternative model and a theory for understanding the relationship between state and society in third world countries. He emphasises the distribution of social control among the many organisations in society which enables us to understand the capabilities of the state. Migdal starts his argument by defining a "strong state" a strong state is able to penetrate societies, regulate social relationships, and extract resources and determine how they are used [Ibid.: 4-5]. They are able to reshape societies by promoting some groups and classes, at the same time repressing others. It is a fact that most developing countries have very weak political institutions. This duality feature is reflected in the strength of the state penetration coupled with its weakness in achieving social change [Ibid.: 7-9].

This inertia may result from the fact that although the overall power of authority may be high, the exercising of it may be fragmented. In other words, social control in society is distributed among numerous groups rather than being concentrated in the state. This means that the state is one organisation among many, such as sects, tribes, institutions of particular social classes, villages and others, who enforce rules of the game singly or collectively, offering individuals the components of strategies for survival [Ibid.: 28-9]. Thus, state and society are engaged in a struggle to determine who has the right and ability to make the rules that control people's behaviour.

Three problems have resulted in political deficiency. The first, is the fragmentation of social order, which result from the distribution of social control among numerous and fairly autonomous groups. The second, includes disasters such as civil war that decreases the overall level of social control by taking rewards and sanctions out of the hands of leaders. These are accompanied by institutional changes. The third occurs when society is weblike with ties of patronage and clients rather than pyramidal or centrally based as under state control, so, that there are formidable barriers in seeing policies through [Ibid.: passim]. These features have a mutual effect on the centre and the peripheries for society shapes the state as deeply as the state influences society. The units of society at ground level are mobilised by loyalty, rewards and sanctions very different from what the state intended to achieved. The result of this was that the strong men used state resources and institutions to build their own power [Ibid.: 177-198]. This forced the state to become involved in accommodation processes which have been the actual politics of many Third World societies. In such weak states, leaders find themselves with the acute dilemma of being threatened by both state agencies and power centres. Consequently, they inclined to adapt the politics of survival.

THE POLITICS OF SURVIVAL

EFFECTIVE strategies of survival demand a set of institutions in order to administer rewards and sanctions meaningfully. Domestic and external dangers may be countered through political mobilisation, achieved by constructing state agencies and then strengthening those agencies. Paradoxically, this may at the same time hold risks for state leaders: Migdal has explain more this paradox by using three models: a market model, a physical model of centrifugal and centripetal forces, and a model of risk taking [Ibid.: 208]. As in a free market, where there is no single actor, who can affect supply or demand sufficiently. The same, leaders seek sufficient channels of mobilisation, with the result that no single state agency can gain control of the state mobilisation capacity [Ibid.: 208].

The physical model assumes that any state agency creates centrifugal tendencies in itself. State agencies compete for the allocation of resources, status, influence and interaction. This creates internal loyalties among the top officials which threatens the coherence and stability of the state. Therefore, the leaders need to create centripetal forces to counteract the centrifugal tendencies in order that their agencies may be kept acting cohesively. As there are many channels for mobilisation, the leaders ability to create centripetal forces is high. Where social control is highly fragmented, the influence of society on the state becomes obvious. However, in an oligopoly the centripetal forces are much weaker since so much social control remains with the power centres Ibid.: 209-10].

The risk taking model is carried out to overcome the fragmentation, which occurs through attempts at political mobilisation. Leaders need strong state agencies to achieve their own goals, so they are inclined to concentrate coercive capabilities in a handful of security agencies. The irony is that these agencies, such as the military and security apparatus could turn out to be dangerous and a threat to the leaders themselves [Ibid.: 210-11].

The paradox faced by state leaders, that leaders need an effective agencies which may at the same time hold risks for them. This paradox forces leaders to strive to build continual a centripetally in order to minimise the risks to their own survival. One option is to balance two or more strong agencies against each another, such as opposing the military with the security, or to create more than one military force, so that they counteract each other.

Another option is to isolate units from one another, or to make appointments or promotions on the basis of loyalty. These methods plus the creation of overlapping functions have all become essential methods in decreasing the risks of the leadership being overthrown. To effect this, some paramilitary forces come, not under the control of the Ministry of Defence, but are commanded directly by the leaders [Ibid.: 211-13].

Another option for the leaders is to rely on a specific group, such as a certain social class or sect...etc., in order to counterbalance informal power centres and to better control society. Moreover, leaders may make designs to prevent a concentration of power from arising. Migdal calls this the policy of pre-emption, which can take the form of weakening a potentially strong state agency or of even destroying it. To reinforce political survival, the idea of mobilisation capacity is set aside, despite the domestic or international risk in order to mitigate any potential centrifugal force that might threaten the ruler, Migdal calls this "the politics of survival".

Several different kinds of action characterise the politics of survival. There is firstly, the big shuffle, in which the leader has the power of appointment to and dismissal from office, and frequently replaces top officials to prevent loyalty building up within strong agencies that might threaten the leader. This is a set of pre-emptive actions that prevent centres of power from coalescing. It is a process of constant circulation of the elite that looks like a game of political musical chairs [Ibid.: 214-17].

Secondly, there is the technique of nonmerit appointments, where officials are appointed to top positions for their deep personal loyalty to the state leader. Patrimonial characteristics based on kinship ties are used as a standard for promotion to state posts2. Personal ties may also be linked to provincial, ethnic, tribal or sectarian backgrounds [Ibid.: 217-18].

Thirdly, there are the dirty tricks methods, including illegal methods or quick changes of law in order to remove key state figures, or to pre-empt the emergence of threatening power centres by weakening or destroying groups in the state institutions which are already powerful enough to threaten the ruler's prerogatives. Such actions include illegal imprisonment, torture and assassinations. Both state and non-state power centres can be exposed to dirty tricks [Ibid.: 223].

All the types of politics of survival reflect a weakness in the state institutions and limit the prerogatives of state agencies. Although the use of the politics of survival may contribute to the longevity of regimes and leaders, at the same time they cause continuing turmoil in bureaucracy, they are a waste of time and limit the efficiency of state institutions and administrative rationality. They prevent the development of state institutions which, when all is said and done, are needed by rulers as a means of defence against both internal and external violence. This means that rulers have had to make sufficient allowance for such agencies to carry out the necessary tasks.

However, there can arise, power centres outside the state organisations. These are an additional risk to the leadership. These can be run by strong men in both urban neighbourhoods and rural areas. The same occurs in the state agencies, where leaders need the services of such strong men as tribal chieftains, holders of capital, religious rectors, leaders of association and so on. At the same time, the leaders need to confine the powers of these strong men so as not to allow their influence to exceed certain limits that might affect the state's capability for mobilisation. In this case rulers of the state lack the power of appointment and big shuffles, but they have used dirty tricks widely against these power centres [Ibid.: 226-7].

Where the social organisation is large and dirty tricks have only a limited effect, leaders have tried to incorporate these organisations or their functions into the state organisation or into state-allied institutions. Such manoeuvring invariably involves coercion, co-option and accommodation [Ibid.: 228-37].

THE TRIANGLE OF ACCOMMODATION

POLICIES are carried out by the implementors, that is those who are responsible for effecting programmes in specific and constricted areas at the ground level of the state. They are usually far removed from the state leaders, often far removed from the sight of the top personnel in their own agencies. These implementors are strategically placed between the top policy-makers and most of the country's population.

The political game subjects these intermediary roles to pressure and risks from four different groups. The first of these is their supervisors or those immediately above them. The second, is the intended clients of the programme, that is those who benefit from or are regulated by the rules of the programme. The third, is made up of regional actors, bureaucrats and politicians. The last group includes the non-state local strong men.

Migdal argues that the structure of society has an important indirect effect on implementation of policy. The politics of survival evolves from a society with fragmented social control. In its turn, the politics of survival lessens both backing for implementors and the threat of sanctions from supervisors. This make the implementors more attentive to the possible career costs of strong men and peer officials, in other words, implementors are open to a wide range of pressure. This results in a further weakening of the state's ability to make rules that govern the behaviour of the people [Ibid.: 238-41].

The state is witness here to accommodation on two levels. In the first, the top state leadership has accommodated two kinds of social control: the first, where the local strong men have been allowed to develop social control for the purpose of gaining social stability at local level; the second is at national level through power centres where the leaders conduct their dealings through discriminatory and/or preferential policies [Ibid.: 245].

The second level of accommodation takes place at local and regional levels, where the implementors, their peer officials and strong men have accommodated one another in a web of political, economic and social exchange. Their bargaining determines the final allocation of state resources to the region [Ibid.: 245].

These two sets of related bargaining are together called the "Triangle of accommodation". The results are unexpected and usually quite different from those designed by the makers of state policy. The bargaining can lead to a major distortion in the use of state resources, where state policies are deflected and resources are redirected as they filter down into society, reinforcing social fragmentation. Because of the politics of survival in many societies, the distribution of social control has not changed radically from a weblike to a pyramidal configuration [Ibid.: 247-58].

In sum, to overcome state weakness, Migdal points out four conditions that lead to the creation of a strong state. The first, is the occurrence at a historical moment in the world, where external political forces favour concentrated social control3. The second involves a serious military threat either from outside or from communal groups within a country4. The third is where there exists a social grouping with skilful cadres who are sufficiently independent of existing bases of social control, believing that their interests coincide with those of the state, to affect policies. Such interests must necessarily transcend loyalty to religious sects, ethnic groups, regionality and so on. Finally, in order to take advantage of the conditions to build a strong state, there must be a skilful top leadership in existence [Ibid.: 271-77].


3. The Yemeni experience

Structure of control in the pre-unified Yemens

The politics of the Interim Period

Elections and power imbalance

The war road, power redistribution

 

UNDOUBTEDLY, the concept of a unified Yemen was the supreme goal at both official and public levels in both the former Yemens. In addition to the historical and the emotional expectations, the vision of union was also viewed as the proper way towards a better future in the light of socio-economic circumstances. However, before further analysis of post-unification, the strategies and techniques followed by the two states of Yemen in the pre-unification period, which aimed to manage society and control the social order, should be studied. This is an important aspect as it reflects in the politics of the unified Yemen.

Structure of control in the pre-unified Yemens

The PDRY:

With a population estimated at only 1.5 million, the PDRY presented two different pictures. On the one hand, was the cosmopolitan city of Aden with its urban focus. Ship chandlering, bunkering, oil refining and other large-scale economic and commercial operations generated a certain affluence that in its turn produced a better education system by regional standards and developed a skilled labour force, and to a lesser extent the other main seaport al-Mukalla. On the other hand, was the more rural hinterland, where tribal social structure was predominant [McClintock: 199].

The South Yemeni State emerged in 1967 out of the victorious struggle against British colonial rule1. The ruling party had been founded in 1959 in Aden as a branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM). The North Yemen revolution of September 26th 1962 paved the way for the local branch of the ANM to form the National Liberation Front (NLF) in August 1963. Subsequently, in 1978, it transformed itself into the Yemeni Socialist Party YSP [Deeb: 452].

The radical ideology of the YSP was the product of certain historical conditions, that were both local and regional. Although the Marxist-Leninism of the YSP is a borrowed ideology, its adoption was accelerated by political and ideological developments in other parts of the Arab World. It also had a local dimension which was rooted in South Yemen society itself [Ibid.: 452]. The members of the nine organisations that formed the NLF were drawn mainly from the petite bourgeoisie which was influenced by the great ideological ferment of the 1950s and 1960s with the demand for independence and the abolition of the quasi-feudal and tribal systems. This trend, enhanced by a well-organised trade union organisation, the Aden Trade Union Congress ATUC, acted on behalf of workers interests [Kostiner, 1981: 454].

The vast majority of the people backed the NLF and other national independence movements against traditional power centres, as the Sultans (rulers of the Southern Arabian Shaykhdoms), Sada (religious seniors, who were descendants of the Prophet) landowners, tribal leaders. There were, also, elements of the newly formed strata of educated officials, who hoped for modernisation and the alleviation of poverty[Ibid.: 454].

Nevertheless, there were four reasons for the shift to Marxist-Leninism. Firstly, there was the 1967 relapse and the Nasser defeat, which inclined the ANM to a radicalisation away from the Nasser streamline. Secondly, the closure of the Suez Canal during 1967 affected the port of Aden, the main source of revenue at a very critical time for the nascent state. The NLF attempted to strengthen ties with the USSR, Eastern Europe and China, who at the peak of the Cold War, provided various types of developmental and military aid. Thirdly, there was a power struggle within the NLF and the country as a whole, in which the faction supporting President al-Sha'abi relied mainly on tribal elements, that feared other NLF leaders, remembering the experience of North Yemen when conservatives dominated the republican regime. Finally, there was not a significant upper bourgeoisie to resist such a trend and the army and police force, which were products of the colonial era, were neither sufficiently united nor strong enough to challenge the radical trend [Deeb: 454].

Control and transformation of society

There were two turning points in the political structure's consolidation of its control. The first, was in 1969 when power was settled to the advantage of the left wing. The second, also came after an ideological conflict in 1978, which was followed by the establishment of the YSP in which the commitment to Marxism was more explicit2. Both these events were followed by further tendencies towards centralisation [Abu-Amr: 170-75].

The first turning point came after independence in 1967, the rural ruling class was destroyed: the rulers, landowners and tribal leaders were expropriated and the influential urban classes, primarily the commercial bourgeoisie and the upper section of the colonial state apparatus either fled or were stripped of their economic and political power [Halliday, 1979: 4]. These old classes were substituted by alliances of new and heterogeneous social forces: members of the intelligentsia, workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie and also some of the national bourgeoisie [Abu-Amr: 171].

A second tool of control was agrarian reform, which gave the leadership a great power to mobilise the people. The first Agrarian Reform Law (no. 27) of 1970, decreed the immediate confiscation without compensation of the land and properties of the old classes. The law also limited land ownership to 25 acres of arable land and 50 acres of non-arable land. The second agrarian reform bill was more radical, lowering land ownership to 20 acres of irrigated land and 40 acres of land watered by rain. A peasant militia was armed and took on the implementation of the agrarian reform law. Peasants committees were headed by members of the political organisation of the NLF. These peasant committees confiscated land and redistributed it among the new owners who regrouped into co-operative farms [Ibid.: 177].

The third step in this move against the old centres of control was the nationalisation of all means of production, which came into effect with Law 37 of November 27th, 1969. The key to the new economic system was central planning. The state controlled all sectors of the economy, even the retail sector. Considerable efforts were made to mobilised the society and prevent the control of power from leaving the leading party. Therefore, greater equality of income was applied after the reductions in salaries and wages of the 1968-1972 period. Also, the position of women was transformed within the framework of the Orthodox Socialist Programme which was organised by the Family Law of 1974; a women's organisation established and had branches throughout the country. This was totally controlled by the party [Halliday, 1979: 7-9].

The fourth means of control was the establishment of a centralised communist party. The NLF had transformed into the YSP in 1978. The state apparatus was very much under the control of the political leadership. Party functionaries who played an active role were located at every level throughout the country. Unlike in other Arab regimes, the top state officials were not drawn from the army and the party was an independent force that controlled the state apparatus itself [Ibid.: 4-10]. The army played a less prominent role in public life than it did in other Arab countries. A paramilitary force had been established since 1973. This was a people's militia, which was based on the place of residence, involving about 100,000 people; 60 per cent were peasants, 30 per cent were workers and the other 10 per cent were local and regional commanders who had strong loyalty links with the party. The other important apparatus was the state security, which was so strongly linked to the party and had such a great influence on society that it was hard to distinguish between class struggle from sordid vendettas [Abu-Amr: 178].

Beyond the party, were the mass organisations such as the General Union of Yemeni Workers, the Democratic Yemeni Youth, the General Union of Yemeni Women, the Peasant Organisation, Popular Defence Committees and other groups which were all organised, legitimised and influenced by the leading party. Those organisations filtered to even the remotest villages in the country thus ensuring that all aspects of the party's policies were implemented, regulating and redirecting daily behaviour by this means.

Finally, the regime attempted from the outset, to marginalise the role of Islam in order to diminish its capacity to mobilise the people. After independence, the first few years were characterised by violence against the country's religious establishment. The NLF inspired an uprising that resulted in the public humiliation, torture and killing of numerous clerics during these years. In 1970, the regime nationalised all the religious endowments which had contributed to the independence of the clerics and influenced society. Since then, the state had paid the salaries of appointed clerics and had sought to channel all the funds for mosques from foreign sources through official government bodies [Cigar: 185].

However, in the late 1980s, government leaders appeared to temper their aggression against Islam following advice from the Soviet Union3. As a result, leaders appeared at public prayers on Holy Days and the media carried reports of their meetings with Ulama (jurists) all of which was part of restoring support for the regime as it sought for regional aid. As a part of its amended strategy, the regime sought to show that Islam and Socialism were compatible. The co-opted clerics translated all the state's decisions into every day life4.

In sum, the party destroyed all the major power centres and had a massive influence on the society. The party's weakness had emerged from within, where internal rivalry among its leaders marked its history.

Internal rivalry

The YSP had assumed such massive control over society that there were no counter power that could challenge its dominance. Paradoxically, throughout its existence, the NLF and then the YSP, were marked by factionalism. After independence, there was an initial intra party conflict between the quasi-Nasserite faction under President al-Sha'abi and the Marxist-Leninist left. The latter came to power with a bloodless coup on 22nd June 1969 [Halliday, 1986: 37].

In 1978, another major factional conflict broke out. On June 26th, 1978, President Salim Rubaya Ali tried to seize power against the majority of those on the Central Committee, where he was defeated. His successor Abd al-Fattah Ismail, after less than two years in office, was ousted in a bloodless change in April 1980. The factional conflict within the YSP culminated in a ruthless civil war in January 1986, which resulted in the exile President Ali Nasser Mohammad. He was succeeded by Ali Salim al-Baydh who was involved with the process of union with the YAR in 1990.

Such struggles resulting from the rivalry between top leadership is characteristic of the history of the YSP, which contributed to the politics of the unified Yemen as will be seen. Yet, one of the explosive issues that led to the crises of 1969, 1978 and 1986 was that of

the promotion and demotion of officers, indicating that the factional disputes within the civilian political apparatus found a continuing reflection inside the armed forces themselves [Halliday, 1979: 10].

Despite all the ideological propaganda the tribal factor was still important. In a predominantly peasant society, tribal loyalties survived even into urban life. Recruitment for the party, militia, border guards and so on, invariably took on tribal dimensions and such allegiances were clearly visible in all conflicts [Halliday, 1986: 39]. All disputes were seen as a streamlining of the ideological path, and against those who tried to deflect the trend of the Scientific Socialism. The assumption might however be true, that the top leadership prompted by both external and internal economic and political pressures tended to adopt a real politic or pragmatic strategy, which always were exploited from rivals and viewed as individualism and opportunism by rivals anxious to bring about an abdication.

The YAR:

The leadership which created the revolution of 26th September 1962 in the North Yemen, was preoccupied from the outset by the necessity to create a state that could maintain public security and provide a minimal level of services. The previous theocratic state had insulated Yemeni society from the modern world before the coup. Government as a set of offices was almost non-existent; so bureaucracy had little power to regulate the behaviour of citizens or to extract resources and use them in productive ways. For example, the Imam (the ruler) relied on levy from the tribes in times of need, for there was no real standing army. As a result, the tribal leaders were more the allies than the subjects of the Imams, and traded arms and allegiance for a virtual autonomy in their lands [Dresch, 1989: 227-8]. The new leaders then had to create a bureaucracy that could meet minimum needs of the people.

After the revolution, the country was wracked by a civil war between the royalists, who were backed by the Saudis, and the Republicans, who were supported by the Egyptians under Nasser. The balance of power between the tribes at the periphery and the state at the centre tipped towards the tribes in the civil war. The Yemen was quickly divided between the republicans and the royalists, with the tribes securing subsidies and autonomy by playing the two competitors for the state off against each other [Burrowes, 1992: 43].

The new leaders then were always concerned about public security and of balance political power of the tribes in order to keep order. The YAR which was created in 1962, lacked an articulated political mechanism and an organised support base, so that tasks of state-building lagged behind the maintenance of order and security, resulted in the failure to create an effective capacity to monitor, influence and control the rate and direction of socio-economic changes. Since then, the tribes have been extensively involved in politics, and this has made politics of control difficult.

The Iryani/Hamdi period

The Egyptian withdrawal from the Yemen in 1967, quickly led to the overthrow of President al-Sallal, and these events opened the way to a reconciliation between republicans and royalists that finally marked the end of the civil war in 1970. The price paid was the rejection of the left modernist trend of the revolution.

In 1970 a modern Constitution was adopted. Some of the ministries and other agencies established after revolution were strengthened in order to improve the power of the central authority. Among them the Yemeni Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Ministry of Finance. The Central Bank was set up and the Central Planning Organisation was founded. Economic needs caused President al-Iryani to focus on financial and economic institutions rather than on the military, but this regime was eventually ousted by a military coup under accusation of corruption and ignorance of the country's security [Ibid.: 45].

President al-Hamdi, who forced President al-Iryani into exile in 1974, believed in the concept of a modern state and worked to realise it. He promoted the creation or reform of state institutions at the centre, initiated the major reequipment and reorganisation of the armed forces and fostered at a popular level an ideology of development and the idea of exchanging the benefits of state-sponsored modernisation for allegiance to the state. He sought, in other words, to create and strength the power of a new centre.

One aspect of the reconciliation between republicans and royalists the granting of high office and positions of influence to leading tribal Shaykhs, both had been in the central government, and over the fragmented tribally based army. This enabled them to block attempts to strengthen the state in relation to the tribes, resulting in the weakened position of all advocates of a strong state [Ibid., 1988: 224-36].

As a result, Al-Hamdi was unable to strength his position while the Shaykhs a key power centres protected the tribal system. So he moved swiftly to drive them from the Consultative Council (CC) and from other institutions of the state. He dissolved the Constitutional Council and suspended the 1970 Constitution. The tribes responded with a virtual rebellion. The President attempted to compensate for this loss of support by the creation of a centripetal force through reincorporating the modernist left. This attempt to create a more broadly based centre-left coalition involved three initiatives: the Local Development Association (LDA); the correction movement; and a general people's congress. The LDA, launched formally in 1974, held out the promise of a nation wide grass-roots organisation . The correction movement which was revived in 1975, offered a means to train and to place political cadres at all levels of the state. The general people's congress was hit by the assassination of the President in 1977, reverse dirty tricks, according to Migdal's definition [Ibid., 1992: 46].

The Salih era

Salih followed the 8-month tenure of Ahmed al-Ghashmi, who like al-Hamdi before him, was assassinated. In the late 1970s, the fortunes of the Salih regime reached their lowest point and many observers were confidently predicting its imminent demise. Indeed, the CIA station chief in Sana'a was taking bets and giving good odds that President Salih would not survive the spring [Ibid., 1987: 94].

Yet he did survive, and began to expand his control. Salih's regime gradually increased the capacities of the state both in the provinces and in the cities, improving civil services and state agencies. At the same time, the armed forces were reformed, enlarged and reequipped in 1979, 1986 and 1988. The successful introduction of conscription, coupled with professional training for the officer corps, strengthened the military in both the ranks and at the top. These gains were only partly compromised by the new privileges and presumptions of the military in general and by the officers appointed from President Salih's own tribe in particular, nonmerit appointment used as tools of survival [Ibid., 1992: 47].

The regime used rewards and sanctions to increase its presence and authority. After rebuilding the army, he created the Republican Guards, which was a new military agency, completely separate from the army and commanded by the President's brother. These troops were recruited mainly from the President's own tribe. It was given sophisticated weapons and wide privileges to counterbalance any threats that might come from the army. The security apparatus was also expanded and modernised. In addition, the President established a force known as The Central Security Troops, which were commanded by another of his brothers. All these agencies were commanded by brothers or other relatives of the President in a non-merit appointment as described by Migdal, in which enabled the President to monopolised the capacity for mobilisation. After consolidation of his power, Salih controlled the country by rewards and sanctions, giving privileges to the key power centres (the Shaykhs). He also punishing those who did not obey and took armed actions such as that against the tribes in the eastern areas in the late 1980s.

The regime conceived and carried out an impressive programme of political construction during the first half of the 1980s. This programme began with drafting of the National Pact, which then became the subject of a long national dialogue. Elections for the 1000 commissioned members of General People's Congress (GPC) were held in the summer of 1982 for the purpose of adopting the National Pact. The GPC declared itself a permanent political organisation, which would be selected every four years and be led by the 75 members of the Standing Committee which was headed by President Salih [Ibid., :50].

This political structure did much to strengthen the regime. It provided a political process, which was largely defined and managed by a regime into which elements of the Yemeni left could be safely incorporated. In 1985, through the quite open and honest elections of 17,500 members of Local Councils for Co-operative Development (LCCDs), which were a new institutions created out of a merger of the old LDAs, and worked at ground levels throughout the country and assumed responsibility for the implementation of state policies [Ibid.: 50].

Another step taken by the President Salih to generate support and legitimacy, beginning in 1979, was the ingathering of leading political exiles, internal as well as overseas. Salih invited them all back. Ex-presidents al-Sallal and al-Iryani accepted the invitation to come home from exile in 1982. Political returnees included many leading modernists and technocrats. Most of them became members of the three governments formed between 1980 and 1988.

Finally, the expansion of the Presidential Council in 1988 gave additional posts to a broad array of groups and tendencies. Most leaders were co-opted into the regime in one way or another by the late 1980s in a successful series of accommodation processes [Ibid.,: 51].

The politics of the Interim Period

The Yemeni unification was proclaimed in May 22nd 1990, after a series of meetings between the President Salih and the Secretary General al-Baydh. Despite talks about different types of federation or even a confederation, it was decided to merge the two Yemens into a unitary system. The reasons for the rush to unity, that the two ruling parties were worried that opponents of the merger would grow in strength as time passed. Opponents in the North included many of the conservative tribal leaders and Islamists in the urban areas. Opponents in the South included some who feared that the more conservative North would roll back the southern progressive approach. The most influential was the spectre of Saudi Arabia, backing the conservative tribes and far from enthusiastic about creating on its border a potential strong unified state. Also, Iraqi pressure, before the invasion of Kuwait, was involved in the precipitated union of the Yemens.

The Yemeni leadership, therefore, hoped to address these opponents of unity by simply pre-empting them, delivering Yemeni unification as an accomplished fact. The date on which the new Republic of Yemen was to be proclaimed and its constitution put into force was advanced six month from November to May 1990, and a 30-month transition period was added in order to allow time for the complete merger of state institutions as well as the reorganisation of political life [Burrows, 1992: 56].

The unified Republic was governed by a five-member Presidential Council (Article 79) headed by President Salih with al-Baydh as vice President. A 39-member Cabinet consisted of most of the current ministers of the two Yemens, and a 301-member Council of Representatives was made up of the 159 members of the YAR's (Presidentially -appointed- Advisory Council), the 111 members of the PDRY's Supreme People's Council (The Presidium) and 31 new appointees. For the duration of the interim period, the positions in government were to be allocated equally between the two parts of the ruling bodies.

The draft Constitution, was adopted by the legislatures of the two parts of Yemen on 21st May 1990, and on the following day President Salih proclaimed the birth of The Republic of Yemen from Aden. The military had been withdrawn from the old common borders, and units from one part of Yemen had taken up new positions in the other part.

Ministries and the high command of the armed forces were officially merged, and foreign missions were unified. The Central Banks gradually merged their functions during the course of 1990-1. The joint committee for a unified political organisation recommended a multiparty system [Nonneman: 70]. The acceptance of a multiparty system was not merely a matter of democratic values, but was rather a means to avoid imposing a uniform ideology and organisation on diverse political groups, which could only have alienated them. This multiparty activity was a strategy to integrate the many groups into the new state, without committing them to a single ideology or leading party [Kostiner, 1990: 711].

With the beginning of the unification, nearly forty political parties were identified, but the most important ones, in addition to the two governing ones, were the Yemeni Reform Rally (YRR, al-Islah) which represented a tribal-commercial-Islamic mix under the leadership of Shaykh Abdallah al-Ahmar, a chieftain of the Hashid tribal confederation; the Ba'ath party (Iraq line); the Nasserites; and al-Haq party (Zaydi Islamic school) [Ayubi: 430].

From the outset of the debate over unification, President Salih and his entourage seemed confident of having the dominant voice in the unified state, not only because of the Northern predominance in terms of population, but also because it was recognised that the position of the YSP in the South was not very strong. The newly liberated media attacked the regime in the South reflecting its failing popularity. At the same time, the collapse of the communist world increased the regime's sense of vulnerability. These events combined with a fear of potential challenges in the YSP itself, coupled with the undoubted enthusiasm of the population for unity, all helped drive al-Baydh and his colleagues towards an accelerated time frame and the unity formula [Nonneman: 70].

Two trends or approaches toward unification emerged, one view advocated more gradual unification, permitting both sides to become acquainted before the final steps of unification. This view proposed a federal regime which would leave considerable power with the existing state authorities. All this was disregarded in favour of a swift union. Thus, when unification was actually declared, only a small number of government bodies had merged or were at least functioning in any kind of co-operative fashion [Kostiner, 1996: 17].

Forty six laws were approved regarding unified procedures for customs, taxation, the issue of passports, banking and diplomatic representation, but in practice, banking, currency and other key functions remained separate. The army commands of the two states were amalgamated, but the units remained separate In similar fashion, such major national bodies as trade unions and the militias were only united at the top, while retaining their previous composition in the middle and lower levels of ranking [loc. cit.].

Rivalry of elites

The multi-party system became a framework for intense political struggle between the various elites; such as the leaders of the major political parties and the leaders of other major tribal, religious and social groups. According to Kostiner, two issues characterised the politics of the united Yemen Republic. The one involved the inter relationship between the elite groups, where the backbone of the unification was formed by the two leading parties the GCP and the YSP, with their inter relationship determining the effectiveness and stability of the new government of Yemen. The second was the substance of the discourse between the elites [Kostiner, 1996: 22].

From the beginning of union the GPC hoped to utilise the new RY system to eliminate the South as a political entity quickly5. In contrast, the YSP hoped to penetrate and mobilise the Northern society. A formula to merge the two parties was suggested. From the point of view of President Salih, the GPC is the largest political organisation, but in fact, it is not a political party in its structure and functions, it is rather an umbrella organisation encompassing a wide range of political tendencies. This political organisation was intended to serve President Salih as a mechanism for rubber stamping executive decisions. The GPC possesses neither coherent philosophy nor political programme, but is run through a vast network of patronage and the distribution of resources [Latta: 59-60]. For this reason, the YSP will be dissolved and absorbed by the GPC.

By contrast, there were two opposing factions in the YSP. One, the pragmatist wing, headed by Salim Salih Mohammed a member of the Presidential Council and Yasin Said Numan the Speaker of Parliament, urged closer co-operation with the GPC. They increasingly conformed to President Salih's view that only a unified GPC/YSP would create the political conditions needed for economic prosperity and the comprehensive unification of the political and administrative structure of the YAR and the PDRY. The second group, the hard-line wing, led by Jar Allah Omar and the Minister of Local Administration Mohammad Said Abdallah (known as Mohsen), argued for the party to distance itself from the GPC and align with the opposition. Al-Baydh, the Secretary General, tended towards the latter group until the elections of 1993 saw him switch to the pragmatists [Ibid. : 61-2].

In the context of such rivalry, each side started to cultivate its power in the area dominated by the other side. For this reason, the YSP continued to control affairs in the South and preserved the old PDRY military units, which had not been amalgamated with the northern army. The YSP with its relatively good qualities of administration, started an active programme designed to penetrate and cultivate centripetal forces allied to it among the deprived social strata of the North. The Bakil tribal confederation, which is the main tribal aggregation, but with fragmented leadership and which has been excluded from the ruling privileges in the North, was attracted to become involved in extensive negotiations with the YSP6. The lower Northern Yemen areas (Hujaryya) which represented the urbanised and intellectual strata in the YAR and which were historically deprived and sympathetic to the South, were widely penetrated by the YSP. A third stratum constituted women, who in the PDRY had enjoyed extensive legal rights based on a progressive family code, and good access to work and education7. The YSP gradually was able to mobilise most of the gender organisations in the YR.

Finally, the Gulf crisis led to the expulsion of nearly one million Yemeni workers from the Gulf, most of whom were in Saudi Arabia. The loss of workers remittances which resulted caused an estimated loss of $3 billion to the Yemeni economy without taking into consideration the private losses. Construction projects and tourism came to a virtual standstill in Yemen, as did Yemeni trade relations, leading to economic collapse and the rapid growth of inflation8. It was a serious problem for the poorer elements of the population. The YSP exploited the situation by standing against the pro-Iraqi position. It portrayed itself as the representative vanguard of the workers and the poorer classes.

However, despite all these active steps, the YSP remained fragmented and vulnerable. The party was overshadowed by the legacy of three decades of Stalinist rule. The disputes of 1967, 1970, 1978 and 1986 created a segmented organisation, each of whom were seeking revenge. This stripped a great deal of support from the YSP. This division was exploited by the GPC. This weakness in the position of the YSP was also exacerbated by its mistreatment of the ex-Southerners after unification, when the YSP failed to return lands and properties sequestrated in the years after independence. In addition, YSP officials in the countryside in the South continued an antagonistic attitude to the ex-Southerners mostly for traditional and historical reasons. This gave the GPC an advantage in attracting and maintaining their loyalty.

Unlike the elite of the South, the Northern elite was both better organised and enjoyed wide support. Despite the multi-party activity, the power structure of the Northern elite reflected the attempt of President Salih to continue ruling the RY in the same way he had ruled the YAR. He cultivated a network of officials from his extended family and close associates, who emanated from Sanhan and Hamdan tribal groups of the Hashid confederacy. Control by the ruling family was sustained by retaining the leadership and control over military and administrative institutions, and by allocating jobs within those institutions to activists of other, notably Hashid tribal groups. this turned them into clients and won their support. A broad network of Salih's clients based on patronage thus ran the Northern security forces, public administration, and dominated the main commercial sectors and key tribal groups. In this respect, Shaykh Abdallah al-Ahmar, the paramount Shaykh of the Hashid confederation, joined Zindani, an Islamic activist, in forming the Yemeni Reform Rally (YRR), which was also part of the Northern patronage network which extended into urban centres and associated with the GPC, from which it stemmed [Kostiner, 1996: 22-28]. In sum, the power base had three legs: military, tribal and commercial.

However, the seeming solidarity of the regime in the North concealed a deep fragmentation. The ruling structure which was based on a tribal-military-commercial complex to use the term coined by Paul Dresch, distanced the ruling elite from their constituencies. The power and wealth were concentrated in a few hands, some tribal, some not, and make up a coalition within the North between top ranking officers, mainly relatives of the President, powerful merchants and some tribal Shaykhs. This formula persisted after unity including some Southern figures [Dresch, 1995: 33-55].

Politics of survival

Salih treated the South according to the principles of northern politics, making inroads into southern groups through personal contacts, appointments and subventions [Ayubi: 434-7]. Soon it became evident that the larger northern population was unreceptive to overtures from the YSP for cultural and ethical reasons and that it tended to favour the GPC and the YRR.

Tension developed between the GPC and the YSP over government public works, which were run on a formula of 50-50 sharing. Every YSP minister was besieged by GPC officials in an attempt to deter him in his work and obstacles that could be publicly blamed were placed in his way. The Minister of Defence, a member of the YSP leadership, was subjected to an intense struggle over the control of the armed forces9. The GPC was able to halt the immediate unification of the armies, and the YSP was also excluded from the internal security network, which was controlled by the GPC officials. Furthermore, in the first few years of unification many YSP activists had been assassinated or had had attempts made on their lives. Most of these attacks were blamed on the Islamists of the YRR, which had become a junior ally of the GPC and which was politically and ideologically unhappy about the new partnership with the Socialists. The GPC was also able to build up clandestine groups inside the YSP among the upper middle ranking cadres.

The building of the state was a rather conflictual matter, with the YSP calling on the government to implement a national programme for reform, which it adopted in principle and to take responsibility for mistakes and negligence. These reforms would lead to comprehensive administrative and institutional changes, to reform security measures, education, the health system and price control. These improvements must of necessity be accompanied by strict moral behaviour at the top, and include a readiness on the part of officials to resign over past mistakes10. This programme was absolutely refused by the GPC and the YRR. In response, al-Baydh withdrew to Aden in September 1992 in order to express his disagreement. Later these demands became the basis of the YSP platform, the only way that the YSP had to drag the GPC down to its own level of weakness.

By comparing the two camps, it can be seen that an alliance had been formed among the GPC, the YRR and Hashid tribal confederation. The GPC functioned as the leader of this diverse camp, which embraced and shared economic and political interests, a common heritage, family and tribal loyalties and an involvement with the institutions [Ibid. :44]. This coalition was cemented and exploited by connections with the pre-unification administration, military and social bodies and by facing a common threat from the YSP. These ties were manipulated through the control that the GPC had over the unified state resources.

By contrast, the YSP emerged as a body that shared common values and concerns with the modernists of the left in the RY. The elite of the YSP, as viewed by Michael Hudson, tended towards a bureaucratic, institutionalised and formal, legal state order. Despite a certain degree of disagreement among its leaders.

Before the first representative elections, the public opinion, ironically, expressed in protest and demonstrations in both urban and tribal sectors, but reveals the inability of Yemeni society to establish a socio-political alternative to the governing elites. The protests were intrinsically non-institutionalised and failed to form broad and lasting inter tribal or urban-tribal coalitions [Ibid.: 43]. Therefore, the actual political scene was confined to the two leading parties and their allies and this was later identified as rivalry between the South and the North, despite the fact that neither was represented fully or legitimately by any single party.

In sum, the politics of survival predominated the Yemeni politics from the outset of unification, which marginalised policies of development. This created a frustration among people, who were hoping to improve their live standards with unity.

Elections and power imbalance

The elections of 1993 was the first major step towards implementing the new pluralist constitutionalist order. Ironically, it ended up by exacerbating the latent tension between the two former ruling parties. Despite the accumulation of disputed issues since the union in 1990, grievances were mitigated in the hopes of securing a triumphant victory through the ballot box. At the time each side had prepared contingency plans for an expected dispute, each was working to weaken the other.

The stability and continuity of the union experiment depended to a large extent on co-operation between the GPC and YSP. Therefore, President Salih raised the divisive issues indirectly through his ally the YRR. Since there was no clear distinction between the GPC and the YRR in either ideology or organisation11, this was possible . For example, with reference to the referendum of May 1991 on the Constitution, which was approved by the majority12, the YRR led an unsuccessful boycott purely because the Sharia (religious law) was described as "the main" instead of "the only" source of legislation13. This action was directed mainly against the YSP which was presented as atheistic. Another example lay in the conflict raised against The Institutes of Learning (religious schools belonging to the YRR) which were outside the state system of schooling14. These institutes threatened the YSP, since they were devoted to training fundamentalists.

In this context, the different parties turned to the society in pre-election preparation. Among the formal civic institutions were at least forty political parties, unions, syndicates, human rights groups and political action committees. Some of these parties and organisations were survivors from the YAR or the PDRY, while others were post-unification. Some civic initiatives were encouraged by the GPC and some by the YSP in order to counterbalance or abort organisations manipulated by the other [Carapico, 1996: 307].

A democratic atmosphere permeated the civil society15, prior to the elections and away of the government influence, with a series of mass conferences providing the means of expression and mobilisation for the articulated elements of the opposition. These conferences, held throughout the country, gathered thousands of diverse people: tribesmen, urban intellectuals, Journalists and professionals. They all issued demands for: civil and human rights; local elections; depoliticisation of and the merge of the armies; judicial independence; fiscal restraint and management; peaceful resolution of tribal disputes; and many other reforms16. These events were reported by over one hundred newspapers, both partisan and independent, which provided critical commentary and unbiased information about the opposition and the conferences of the non governmental organisations (NGOs).

The unexpected critical response from units of society and the NGOs forced both the GPC and the YSP to amend their strategies in order to decrease dependence on popular support to defeat the rival party. While the YSP sought support from external powers, the GPC adopted the Migdal's "physical model" in the struggle for survival. In fact, the GPC had adopted this model from the outset of union, but it culminated at this period. President Salih succeeded, through promises and rewards, to imposed fragmentation in the YSP. Also, actually within the YSP an allied forces for him, he focused on the military and security institutions of the YSP and penetrated them extensively, which was particularly damaging to the YSP during the civil war as will be seen later. The pragmatic wing of the YSP politburo was encouraged and eulogised by the President17.

The President's monopoly of state resources, even of the revenues from the southern oilfields, gave him a great capacity of manoeuvre and influence. He did this by bribing some of the political figures who were in parties sympathetic to him or some who were allied to the YSP for the purpose of dissent. The phenomena of fragmentation in some parties was apparent in the period that preceded the elections. For example, the Ba'ath (Iraq line) was divided into two streams, and the Nasserite party was divided into three factions18. It has been observed that this fragmentation occurred only in the leftist parties which were in agreement with the YSP in many aspects of the issue of state-building.

In addition, to working to fragment the left opposition, the huge advantages that the President had enabled him to create new power centres in the South. Active steps were taken, mainly with previous tribal and society personalities, to repatriate them and to restore their old social influence, which had been eradicated by the socialisation policies of the YSP after independence. The response these measures was largely positive. The economic deterioration of the post Gulf war added to the vulnerability of the YSP. These restored power centres were able to influence rural society in the South in favour of the GPC or the YRR under the slogans of traditional or Islamic values.

Any hindrance to the development of state policies or to the alleviation of poverty was blamed on the YSP. During the PDRY people were used to depending on the state to provide them with health care, education, security, amenities, pricing and so on. By contrast, people in the YAR, where the tribal structure was strong and the state was weak, did not expect nor demand that the state should provide such functions19. Therefore, economic recession had greater repercussions in the South.

The YRR took the initiative to help people in the South. It filled gaps in the social services: health care, emergency relief, post-secondary vocational training, religious education, needle work classes, summer camps and group marriage ceremonies for those who could not afford a traditional wedding were all provided20. These projects of the YRR Social Welfare reached many thousands of lower income families, mainly those in the South. This convinced people that they should give their allegiances to the YRR in particular and the GPC in general, which served to worsen the position of the YSP in the South and increased its vulnerability. The resources available for use were viewed as a pure YRR initiative funded by its own budget in order to marginalise the role of the YSP, although in reality they were partially funded by the state

By comparison, the North can not be portrayed as a single solid unit. It also was fragmented, indeed even more than the South, but there were limits for fragmentation and disagreements were dominated by rooted and prevalent social ethics. The vast majority of the Yemenis were organised tribally, so on the one hand they were sympathetic to the YSP's programme for development, and its aim to lessen the dominance of the GPC. On the other hand, they wanted restraints so that the YSP would be confined within certain limits, because they were fearful of its history and its known antipathy towards the tribal system. These fears were played upon by the GPC in the pre-election period.

Election results

Despite the institutional character of the parties, the majority of candidates presented themselves as independents. Out of 3,181 candidates who presented themselves on election day (including 24 women), 1,968 were independents 62% while 1,213 (including 17 women) 38% were party candidates. This may be explained in two ways. Firstly, the multi-party system was a new departure and to some extent party activity was ignored in the countryside, where the rate of illiterate voters was (70-80%)21. Many candidates, therefore, preferred to present themselves as independents. Secondly, there was a hidden game played by the leading parties against each other to turn around the agreement between them, where they had agreed on gerrymandering.

Out of 301 seats, only two were won by women: one for the YSP and the other an independent. Both were from the South22. The independents won 48 seats, and the rest were won by 8 different parties, distributed as follows: GPC-123, YRR-62, YSP-56, Ba'ath (Iraq line)-2, al-Haqq-2, and there were 3 won by three different Nasserite factions23.

Despite some instances of disorder and violence, and scores of complaints24, the outcome indicated a genuine contest [Carapico, 1993: 3]. The results of the elections on April 1993, however, did not replicate the power-sharing formula. The GPC took the lion's share of the votes, while the YSP not only found itself a very junior partner, but also discovered a new rival, the YRR.

Despite their rivalry, the leading parties were acutely aware of the necessity of implementing pre-existing governmental arrangements post election in order to avoid a political vacuum. Abdallah al-Ahmar, leader of the YRR was elected the chairmanship of the Council Of Representatives (COR). One of the YSP leaders, Attas as Prime Minister, appointed a new government consisting of 15 ministers from the GPC, 8 from the YSP, 6 from the YRR and 1 from the Ba'ath.

The countdown for containing and stripping the YSP of its power had begun. After the elections were over, the political struggle centred on two main issues; Constitutional reform and power sharing.

The war road, power redistribution

The leaders of the YSP entered unity in the belief that they would remain at least an equal partner with the GPC regime in Sana'a. They had an agenda for development that they hoped would overcome the traditional structure of tribalism, corruption and backwardness that had characterised northern politics. Yet, they feared falling under the domination of a northern political way of life for which they had no respect. Therefore, when they lost the elections, the YSP leaders had to rethink their attitude towards the key issues of unity.

During the summer of 1993 after the elections, demonstrations and strikes by workers and students in Aden and al-Mukalla escalated, following price rises and food shortages in the South. The YSP sought to preserve its influence, so it opposed any expansion of President Salih's personal power. The YSP, therefore, advocated a new presidential format, in which the entire electorate participated in direct elections, on a single ticket for the offices of President and Vice-president, thereby providing a chance for YSP candidates to fill the posts. The GPC, however, objected to this constitutional amendment25.

In October, al-Baydh took another tactical step to maintain a power base by presenting the government with an aggressive eighteen-point letter of demands. Al-Baydh's letter was comprehensive and pointed, explicitly outlining the differences between the perceptions of state-building as seen by the YSP and that followed by the northern parties. The letter stated that it wanted the following: a Consultative Council with equal representation for the RY's eighteen governates; a new presidential format; the reorganisation of the police and armed forces on a national basis; recognition for personal qualifications and merits; the reorganisation of the provincial governates to eliminate their pre-unification divisions and prepare for local elections; limits to the government's interference in implementing laws and ordinance pertaining to society; and to develop plans for the economy that would pay more attention to the free trade area of Aden [Kostiner, 1996 : 62]. In brief, the YSP wanted a state that would eliminate the power structure of the GPC and the YRR. Such claims might have seemed reasonable had they featured within the negotiations for unity prior to 1990, but now with the poor electoral showing of the YSP in 1993, they seemed rather a policy of ultimatum than an inspired doctrine.

Another aspect of the power struggle that worried the YSP was the inclusion of the YRR in the government, for power now had to be shared among three rather than two. Since the GPC and the YRR had common interests, this was seen by the YSP as diminishing their own power. It was thus vital to strengthen the YSP, and to this end its leaders concentrated their struggle on the military and the security forces. The YSP tried spread its authority over the entire Yemeni armed forces, which were under the jurisdiction of a YSP Minister of Defence. Through its government officials, the Minister of the Interior and the Chief of Command of the security forces, the GPC reacted and tried to abort the efforts of the YSP by creating bureaucratic and technical obstacles. The YSP then turned to cultivating underground YSP militias in the South where GPC authority was limited26.

Another aspect of the struggle centred around uncontrolled terrorism. According to al-Baydh, over one hundred and fifty members of the YSP had been assassinated by late 1993 [Nonneman: 79].The YSP accused the YRR of supporting these fundamentalists.

The issue of constitutional changes itself, represented another aspect of the power struggle between the YSP on the one hand and the GPC and the YRR on the other. The YSP, for example, sought to expand its power base by proposing elections in the provincial governates. The YRR sought to build its power through arguing for the Shari'a as the sole source of legislation. The GPC aspired to the same goal by suggesting of the power of the President through the abolition of the Presidential Council [Kostiner, 1996: 64].

A deep conflict emerged which reflected the failure to create a joint platform for co-operation due to the gap between their differing perceptions of the course of future development for Yemen and the declining balance of power between them. The only solid ground that the YSP had to support its position against its rivals was its control over the army in the South. As time went by, a naked struggle erupted for governmental, economic and military power.

As the crisis deepened, in January 1994, concerned Yemenis from across the political spectrum met together in a National Dialogue Committee to try to work out a formula agreeable to the power centres in both Sana'a and Aden. The membership of the Dialogue Committee included', in addition to key officials from the GPC, YSP and YRR, many figures from smaller parties which grouped together in the Union of National Forces and the National Opposition Bloc. In addition, there were representatives of civil societies, including the Organisation for the Defence of Rights and Freedoms, the Federation of Women, the Federation of Doctors, Journalists, Writers, as well as professors from Sana'a and Aden Universities27.

After months of deliberations, the committee drew up the Document of Pledge and Accord, which spelt out comprehensive reforms. The document had a positive reception from the majority of the public and intellectuals, and it was even accepted and signed by the two leaders of the GPC and the YSP in Jordan in February 1994. Yet, the lack of trust and antagonism between the President and the Vice-president was not diminished. Al-Baydh returned to Aden from the signing instead of Sana'a, insisting that he wanted to see action on the agreed points.

In fact, the Document of Pledge and Accord was contradictory. The YSP aims (and many of the main concerns of the YSP were reflected in the Document) for putting the GPC in critical position in order to prepare for and justify the secession. Although, the GPC had agreed with the document at the time, it was unwilling and unable to implement its points, having agreed to withdraw from the play the card that the YSP had so long played, and to gain enough time to prepare for the battle. The Document of Pledge and Accord, in fact, was too idealistic in relation to the conditions of Yemen, and as a political scientist at Sana'a University noted such an ambitious plan would have been very difficult to implement even if there had been perfect harmony between the main leaders28. The logic of the situation, from the perspectives of either the GPC or the YSP led to a "zero-sum", for any gain for the YSP was a loss for the GPC and vice versa [Hudson, 1995: 16].

The disputed issues between rivals were like two parallel lines which can never meet, which in fact, centred around those who assumed power, for the power-sharing formula did not work. This was exacerbated by the fact that, from the beginning, the different factions did not trust each other. Both sides sought to achieve their aims by encapsulating them in justifiable and legitimate demands. The YSP wanted a decentralised state, which would grant considerable powers to its regional components, and give the vice-president greater autonomy and wider executive duties. They also wanted to disband the elite Republican Guards of the North and to merge of the two armies under the Minister of Defence, a YSP member. Also, the YSP demanded was the reorganisation of the security forces, the constrain and control of the state budget and resources, and the implementation of detribalisation policies. It is logical that the GPC should object to all these demands. Its superiority, in alliance with the YRR, was based on a majority in the legitimately elected parliament. It was clear that the demands of the YSP would strip the GPC of the vital pillars that had enabled President Salih to survive since 1978.

War seemed inevitable, and the signing of the Document of Pledge and Accord was recognised by both sides as only a temporary truce. The YSP believed that if war broke out, it would be restricted to skirmishes on the former international borders and a ceasefire would soon be brokered by both regional and international mediators. This would be to their advantage, and recreate the South as a separate entity. The YSP seemed confident that the GPC would be crippled by internal unrest, mainly from the Bakil tribal confederation. Meanwhile, the GPC and the YRR were strengthening their military positions and, surprisingly, they had been able to mobilised society successfully. The expected large-scale fighting broke out in early May 1994, and after two month the GPC and its allies had swept through the South and destroyed the military and security capabilities of the YSP.

Factors that Led to the Dominance of the GPC

Miscalculations characterised the domestic and foreign policies of the YSP. After the YSP lost the election, they put all their cards in the hands of the Saudis, hoping for their support against Salih's regime, which was at the time in a relationships of turmoil with Saudi Arabia. YSP quite forgot that Salih and Shaykh al-Ahmar are the actual, old Saudi allies. The time-honoured Saudi policy towards Yemen is to keep it under control by any means, so Saudis were quite willing to back any side willing to ignite the war. Many Saudis hoped this would re-divide Yemen not only just to pre- unification status, but even further into a number of mini-states. Saudi Arabia backed the formation of the YRR, which was the party most antagonistic to the YSP, with the aim of exhausting both Islamists and Socialists, which disfavour them for strategic security reasons. The Saudis since abdication of Yemeni monarchy, have financed the strengthening of the tribal structure at the expense of the central and modernised state that the YSP decreed. Also, the YSP was still thinking according to the Cold War principle, divide and rule: they envisioned that the secession. would have the blessing of the USA. Again they miscalculated, for the USA preferred a stable Yemen as part of the re-arrangement of the Middle East post Cold War. The USA played a crucial role in the termination of the attempt by the GCC led by Saudi Arabia to recognise the new secessionist state the Democratic Republic of Yemen, which was declared on 20th May 1994.

At the domestic level, the YSP made vital mistakes. The first, was at the beginning of the union project, under pressure of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, intra-party disputes and fears of a military coup, the YSP leadership rushed into unity that under-estimated the power of the North. No sufficient arrangements for sustained unity and integration of the institutions were made which deteriorated rapidly.

The second, was that the YSP stuck to its radical ideology and refused to change either its radical policies or its name. They ignored the fact that of the fourteen million added to the population after unification, most were illiterate, conservative and of tribal origin. The YSP's anti-Islamic political platform and its announced de-triblisation policy deprived it of the support of the majority, where, with a slight modification of its ideology it could have increased its appeal.

The third mistake was, that the YSP ignored, for ideological and personal reasons, the ex-southerners. These exiles had among them military units, administrative cadres, merchants, religious leaders and influential key figures. These people may have been willing to negotiate new relationships with the YSP and to have "come home" politically to the YSP as a "southern" party. The chauvinistic point of view of the YSP however drove them towards the GPC and YRR. These ex-Southerners played a crucial role in the defeat of the YSP in the war of 1994.

The fourth mistake was the concentration of the YSP on urban areas in a country which was dominated by an illiterate countryside. Tribal structure represented about 90% of the population. The YSP ignored the fact that the forces of violence and wealth were dominated by people of rural extraction. To a large extent, the countryside, was mobilised by the rivals of the YSP, who shared values and life style with the rural people.

The fifth mistake, was that the YSP put their faith in an uprising by the Bakil tribal confederation, as a competitor to the Hashid tribal confederation which belonged the political elite of the North. At the start of unification, each state deployed military units inside the other state. All the YSP military units were deployed in areas dominated by Bakil tribes. The YSP expected to be supported by them should conflict with Salih arise. However, for ethical reasons, and to maintain the balance (see above), the Bakil leadership refrained from political activities and from taking sides, remaining neutral during the fighting [Kostiner, 1996: 87]. This enabled the President's troops to surround or destroy these Socialist military units easily.

The sixth mistake was allowing intra-party fragmentation to arise at the critical time of the onset of the war. With the declaration of an independent Southern state, the unionist wing of the YSP distanced itself from the al-Baydh leadership and denied his decision. This encouraged many non-members and political parties, sympathetic to the YSP to back President Salih. A schism within the YSP occurred, when the new separate government allied itself with conservative and tribal Saudi-based southern elements. This act weakened the YSP by deepening the fragmentation and disagreement inside the party. As well as, damaging the party's credibility. Finally, the endless internal debate of the YSP constrained decision-making, making the leadership appears weak and hesitant, which gave President Salih a strategic advantage. Salih was able to impose intermittent truces, which he exploited to refuel his troops and to mobilised forces against the secessionists.

By comparison, the GPC led by President Salih and his allies implemented a fruitful plan, which started at the outset of unification, to eliminate the YSP. At the same time they also sought to strengthen the coalition of military, tribal and commercial complex. This patient, step by step plan, was based on destroying the YSP from within, strengthening the coalition and mobilising resources and people. The President played the politics of survival skilfully. Firstly, he kept his military and security organisations out of the control of YSP, and penetrated the political, military and security institutions of the YSP. Through Presidential monopoly of state revenues and distribution function, and through the appointment and rewards of some of the senior figures of the YSP, he was able to gain their flexibility on many issues opposite to the point of view of their leadership. This helped to create fragmentation within the YSP as each faction or wing became suspicious that the other might be allies of the President. Also the YSP's strategic plans were clandestinely revealed to its rivals.

Secondly, many YSP senior officials and activists were assassinated in dirty tricks by the President's security apparatus or his allies. Thirdly, the YSP ministers and officials in the government shared with the GPC and headed by a prime minister from the YSP, were overwhelmed by the GPC members in the same organisation, for they aborted their policies, and consequently, the YSP was blamed for the failure by the public. Fourthly, the GPC had a great capacity for the mobilisation of people by rewards and sanctions, through its access to the state revenues. This was cemented by its alliance with the YRR with its Islamic cliché and tribal connections that left the YSP lagging behind. Fifthly, through non-merit appointments and rewards, the President succeeded in fragmenting and weakening the political parties which were sympathetic to the YSP. Several dissents took place in the left-orientated parties, which affected their constituents and deflected attention to internal problems, thus weakening their support for the YSP.

Sixthly, the GPC took advantage of the mistakes of the YSP, and with a wide co-optation process they included most of the ex-Southern elements, in their ranks including 10 thousands soldiers who formed the military vanguard which conquered the South during the 1994 war. Seventhly, great attention was paid to the power centres of the South, which were supported by the GPC and incorporated into its organisation. These power centres played an important role in the disintegration of the southern front, both politically and militarily, for the YSP was assuming this front as its real backbone. From the very beginning of unification, political mobilisation had taken place against the YSP in the South, led by the Southern power centres which were allied to the GPC. At the same time, the YRR with its Islamic platform had mobilised the ancient religious centres in the South, which were revive after unification at the expense of the YSP. During the war of 1994, many southern areas announced their allegiance to the GPC and were ceded peacefully.

Eighthly, in extensive an extensive programme of propaganda put out by the GPC and YRR, the YSP was accused of being anti-Islam and they called on all Yemenis to be loyal to the mother country against a party that had begun to mortgage its policies to foreign interest29. The declaration of the new Southern state gave the President the motivation, justification and encouragement to renew the war campaign and also gave him a real legitimacy as the genuine defender of the union30.

Ninthly, various military advantages were achieved by the President forces. They neutralised the Southern units deployed in the North, while retaining their forces already deployed near the southern cities. In addition, the high command planned, supervised the long logistic lines and the intelligence of the President's troops were much better than that of the YSP ones31.

Finally, the cohesion and organisation of the President campaign was far superior at all levels to that of the YSP.

The new Democratic Republic of Yemen was officially recognised by no country other than Somalia, which soon collapsed after sweeping victories by the Unionist forces. Yemen was reunified under the coalition of military-tribal-commercial complex. This coalition itself contained contradictions, which required later remodelling and a triangle of accommodation to make it work.

4. Institutional changes and controlling framework

AFTER THE WAR, President Salih moved quickly to relieve frustration in the South. He was aware that with the integration of the country, when all Yemenis needed commendation, the faithful from the South needed particular attention. He promised reconstruction and reconciliation to follow his pledge of an amnesty for all the participants in the war, with the exception of the sixteen DRY leaders, who were put on trial. The President kept channels open for dialogue with the leaders of the YSP, who were included in the amnesty decree. He also promised to compensate the Southern population and normalise public life in the South, while continuing the process of democratisation and activating the development process [Kostiner, 1996: 102]. The President also, gave urgent orders to remove any impact of the war from Aden by rebuilding, reconstituting the social services and ordering the withdrawal of all military units from Aden, leaving only the Central Security Forces and the police force to regulate daily life.

The institutional changes

By defeating the YSP in the war and destroying its institutions all obstacles to re-modelling the state according to the interests of the winners, had been removed. The power-sharing formula was still in existence, but now the agreement was between the GPC as senior partner and its wartime ally, the YRR, as a junior partner. Although, they had much in common and there was relative harmony between the two partners, nevertheless, the President was worried about the increasing power of the Islamic wing of the YRR. However, they co-operated during this period to re-organise the political scene and to implement constitutional and institutional changes, thus consolidating.

There were attempts to destroy the YSP. Soon after, however, a decree issued by the Constitutional Supreme Court called for the confiscation of all property, equipment and liquid assets that belonged to the YSP. The YRR called for the dissolution and disbandement of the YSP under accusation of high treason for igniting the war and for threatening the unity. The President vetoed this demand and instead called on the YSP to elect a new leadership and open a dialogue to prepare for rehabilitation. The President's fear of the Islamists led him to retain the YSP as a counterbalance1. Having lost its two wings, the military and security capacities, there would be no more threats arising from the YSP, which was now under control. The YSP elected a new leadership, which condemned the war and the secession, and entered in a long hard dialogue with the GPC.

At the same time, merging processes were stepped up in order to incorporate southern institutions. The most important of these was the merging of the armies2, with the Southern army being distributed into different branches of the state's army, so that there should not be any aggregation of officers or soldiers belonging to the same tribe or province. Those holding high ranks in the southern army were retired or dismissed. Also, the security apparatus of the YSP was dissolved and was not incorporated into state security system.

A special government meeting held in Aden on July 12th 1994 was devoted to the reorganisation of the army. It decided that in future the army should be free from any political influence. It also agreed on the absolute illegality of private armies and unofficial militia3. Though appearing to be aimed at the YSP role in the uprising, in reality it reflected Salih's preparations for future problems. This decision aimed to put Islamic paramilitary activities, which were run by the fundamentalist wing of the YRR under the law of violence. An announced first step was to close their training camps. Meanwhile, the army remained influenced by the GPC through the Political and Moral Direction Department, which had branches in all army divisions headed by intelligence agents affiliated to the GPC. In addition, the high ranking officers and the Minister of Defence were members in the GPC.

Integration of the key sectors and power centres continued. The Central Bank in Aden was closed and its functions were transferred to the Central Bank in Sana'a. Moreover, it was announced that the Yemeni Dinar (PDRY currency) had been cancelled, and a limited period of time was allowed for holders of this currency to replace it with the unified Yemeni currency, the Riyal, at the banks. In addition, the PDRY airlines (al-Yamda) was merged with the Yemeni airlines (al-Yemenia). Many employees lost their posts, either through retirement or dismissal4.

YSP cadres who occupied positions in the state organisations were replaced by members of the GPC. Many of these new appointees were followers of the former southern President Ali Nasser Mohammad, who had been ousted in 1986. They had been incorporated into the GPC since they were defeated in 1986 and they played an important role in the fragmentation of the YSP during the interim period. Again this control tactic had both an inclusive and a defensive role. These ex-Southerners received Salih's gratitude and came to own him their positions. In addition, President Salih was unwilling to establish an Islamic republic based on Sharia'a and was therefore interested in involving these southern in government to counterbalance the YRR5.

After the war, in a pre-emptive action, to control a burgeoning new power centre, President Salih abolished the Presidential Council, which was running the country as the ultimate executive authority, according to the unity agreement6. There were two reasons behind this decision: one was to allow the President more political independence and thus to concentrate control into his hands. Secondly, it was to remove al-Zindani, the general guide of the YRR and the actual leader of the Islamists, from the position of influence that he enjoyed as a member of the council. The COR ratified the abolition of the council on 22 September 19947.

To mitigate the loss of Zindani, as a trade off. The GPC did not obstruct a new parliamentary ratification of the Constitution, which declared that the Sharia'a (Islamic law) should be the sole source of legislation in Yemen8. The President thus avoided a direct confrontation with the Islamists. He also has tried other forms of political accommodation. A key safety valve of the accommodation process is Shaykh al-Ahmar, the speaker of the COR and the leader of the YRR. Although, he is not an Islamist, he founded the YRR out of a coalition of tribes and Islamic currents. Al-Ahmar plays a key broker role between Salih and the Islamists. The Islamists needed al-Ahmar as protection and in order to get access to power through him. Obversely, al-Ahmar could keep them under control to prevent them from threatening his mutual interests with the President and to use them, when necessary, for either domestic or foreign policy pressure on Salih. However, given the majority the GPC and the YRR command in the COR, they impose many institutional changes, although, they did not always agree on all issues.

The President passed a project for a new administrative re-division of the eighteen governates of the RY to the COR. The government justified this change as eliminating the old border lines between the two Yemens by merging parts of the governates on the border, to form new ones. The aim also was to divide the larger governates such as Hadhramowt (in the south) into two or more smaller ones to facilitate the implementation of development plans and to ease and accelerate the people's dealings with the government.

This project has caused controversy, for the opposition suggested that it must be linked with the decentralisation of local authority, in which the people elect their own governor, governate council and chief of local police. The opposition based their argument on the Document of the Pledge and Accord (DPA), which called for combined legal and administrative reforms. The GPC objected and the President declared that the DPA was cancelled. Strikes and demonstrations ensued, mainly in Aden and al-Mukalla calling for local authority, but the President then brought his influence to bear on the YRR to bloc the push for local authority in the COR. Subsequently, the government withdrew its demands for administrative division9. Notwithstanding this defeat, the GPC has paid great attention to administrative division, which would improve their control over the country. The Minister of Legal Affairs (GPC) has indicated, that this decision will be among the foremost tasks of the new government after the elections of 199710.

The President also worked to the contain key social figures through the establishment of the Consultative Council (CC). The appointees included; merchants, tribal leaders, politicians, intellectuals and religious leaders11. The CC offered a prestigious alternative as compensation to these power brokers, who may have suffered loss in the elections of 1997. It also established new links to those, who were free of any linkage of interest with the regime. In addition, the CC appeared as a vehicle for the expansion for political participation. The CC's role however, was restricted to consulting with the head of state, which is quite different from the situation envisaged in the DPA, where it was asserted that binding decisions could be made by the elected CC, whose functions were complementary to those of the COR.

Another key institutional change, was in the Military Economic Establishment (MEE). This organisation was founded by former President al-Hamdi in mid-1970s. Its main goal was to involve the military forces in development processes through construction and joint production. During the rule of President Salih, its functions had been shifted. The MEE dominated state export-import activities, with exemption from taxes and had its own undeclared budget. The MEE became one of the main sources of revenue for the President, which in turn gave him greater influence. After unification it was renamed the Yemeni Economic Establishment and its activities decreased under pressure from the YSP. However, after the defeat of the YSP in 1994, its previous status was restored and it expanded its activities to include the South. The way it linked the military and economic elites deepened.

Finally, the regime encouraged and supported dissension among the opposition. A compliant National Council for Opposition has been created, consisting of seven political parties which had dissented from their mother parties. These were given a legal license, declaring them as new and independent parties12. The regime's goal was to substitute and topple the genuine Supreme Co-ordinating Council for Opposition. An organisation set up, this tame opposition called for making concessions to the government, taking into consideration the critical circumstances of the Yemen. The regime also used it to improve its democratic image abroad thus helping Yemen acquire grants and loans.

The new control framework

While still beset with a vast array of domestic and foreign problems, President Salih announced a reduction of some 50,000 men in the country's armed forces13. There were a number of announced reasons for this supposed decrease in power. In particular, Salih argued that these cuts were made in line with austerity measures recommended by the international lending institutions. Such claims are hard to credit as the cuts were far from comprehensive; they were in fact restricted to recruits of the YSP, those who had not shown themselves strongly loyal to the GPC and those who deserved to retire on a pension. It has been observed, that dismissal was confined mainly to the southerners14 in a comprehensive process of purging. In fact, these changes strengthened Salih's control and tightened Yemen's defensive position. Great attention was paid to the purchase of increasingly sophisticated military hardware and to the modernising of the military forces15, particularly the elite Republican Guards. Clearly, the President was not reducing his military might, he was rather streamlining it.

Similarly, the Political Security Office (PSO) has played a very important role in strengthening the position of the President. The PSO is heading by a key figure in the GPC, who is a very close to the President. The PSO expanded its activities all over the country, penetrating different political organisations, military units, government bodies and even the NGOs. The PSO working to achieve two goals. The first, was to detect and remove any centrifugal forces that might threaten the regime. The PSO employed a number of tactics to undermine other power centres. In particular, they created dissension in rival political parties16, and perpetrating dirty tricks such as assassinations, kidnapping, torture or espionage. Active NGOs were particular targets, where they had penetrated and established allied civil bodies17. A second goal of the PSO was to consolidate all centripetal forces, that supported the regime vis-à-vis its rivals, for example, they formed the National Council for Opposition (see above), supported the new southern power centres (see above) and co-opted some sympathetic Islamists in the GPC.

The GPC has a well established frame of control which they inherited from the pre-unification era. This is based on tribal- military-commercial complex18. Therefore, post-war attention was paid to the expansion of the structure of control in the South and to the merging of it with that in the North into a single network. It is widely believed, that the regime has instigated tribal conflicts and encouraged arbitration under tribal law, rather than civil or Islamic law, where the punishments under the tribal law depleted a tribe's resources19. This gave the regime a double advantage. First, it deflected tribal's power away from the opposition to the regime. In addition, the tribes weakened each other rendering their leaders dependent on the state for either support or mediation. Secondly, it gave the regime leverage over the tribes for the creation of a new tribal leadership. These new leaders were intermediaries, who controlled society on behalf of the regime, and were incorporated into the state controlled interest-complex. In addition, all the governors of the southern governates were nominated from among GPC members in order to consolidate the control and to eradicate any residue of the influence of the YSP.

The President showed concern for growing power of the fundamentalist wing of the YRR. He used them to balance off the YSP during the interim period and mobilised their forces against the YSP during the war. But, since 1994 they have became dangerous and the President has dealt with them in a number of ways. Firstly, some of their moderate leaders have been co-opted to the GPC and given nonmerit appointments in the government. Secondly, a law was issued that prohibited the formation of any militia, in order to dissolve the Islamic militias (see above). Thirdly, the Learning Institutions, those institutions belonged to the YRR, which used for teaching political Islamic ideology and for military training, have been targeted for merger into the educational system (an old YSP demand). The Learning Institutions are a major power base for YRR consisting of 300,000 students, they have an independent budget of 5 billion Yemeni Riyal20. Meantime, the YSP were permitted to retain confiscated properties and frozen credits21, in order that a controlled YSP should counterbalance and so diminish the Islamic activities.

Finally, efforts were made to reconcile and normalise relationships with Saudi Arabia. This could increase the President's power, for Saudi Arabia would give up supporting his rivals and would relieve economic sanctions by rehabilitating Yemeni workers and giving financial aid. Towards this end, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Yemen and Saudi Arabia in 1995, which resulted in the formation of different mutual committees to solve disputed issues. Positive signals were released that they are almost ready to announce an agreement that would cover the demarcated borders, workers, trade, security and so forth22.

The elections of 1997

The Yemeni electorate was called upon to elect the new COR on April 27th, 1997. About 4.6 millions voters, a turnout of about 80 percent of eligible voters, went to 2070 polling stations23. Of the candidates 754 were partisan and 1557 were independents with 20 women among them24. Yemenis turned out in huge numbers to choose the new 301 seat parliament in what has been described as a largely fair elections25. The main opposition (the YSP, the Yemeni Unionist Aggregation, the Union of Popular Forces and the Sons of Yemen League) boycotted the polls, citing alleged irregularities.

Among 15 eligible parties competed for the COR, the Supreme Elections Committee announced that the GPC won 189 seats, the YRR 53 seats, the Nasserite Unionist 3, the Ba'ath 2 and the independents 54 seats. The GPC parliamentary bloc should include another 39 legislator who ran as independents. The YRR bloc was also reportedly joined by 10 independents26.

The YRR had grievances about the conduct of the vote, but nevertheless refrained from challenging the whole electoral exercise, preferring to remain engaged in the political game. The election was marred by the deaths of 11 people, but this was considered a reasonable toll in a country that was so largely tribal and where there are three times as many guns as people.

The comfortable majority won by the GPC, along with the defeat of most of the prominent figures affiliated to the YRR hard-line, enabled the President to end the coalition with the YRR. The Saudis appeared relieved that fundamentalists received a drubbing at the polls, and were likewise delighted that the tribal element in the YRR, headed by Shaykh al-Ahmar who has close ties with the Saudis27, did so well. President Salih said that achieving a parliamentary majority would make it easier to approve a border deal with Saudi Arabia28. Rapprochement with Saudi Arabia is at the top of the President's list of priorities, because of its security and economic repercussions.

So, despite the GPC majority in the COR, the GPCs MPs elected Shaykh al-Ahmar to the chairmanship of the COR. This shows that there was no intention in Yemen to eliminate Saudi influence, and that there was the intention to preserve the old-new coalition of the tribal-military-commercial complex, for which al-Ahmar was one of the pillars.

An independent southern personality Faraj Ben-Ghanim, an economist and professional technocrat, was commissioned to form the new government. This revealed that there was no discrimination towards southerners and sent a clear signal to the Yemeni street, the Saudis and international lenders that Yemen focusing seriously on the economy29.

In addition, the President said that they would only accept a new formula whereby there would be participant rather than partners in the government, meaning that he wants to shoulder the responsibility, with participants in government doing so on a personal basis and with the intention of implementing the GPC's policies30.

The government headed by Ben-Ghanim as a prime minister contained 28 portfolios. Apart from four, the rest were affiliated to the GPC. The major portfolios which remained in the same hands were Interior, Planning, Development, Information and Industry. Defence went to a new minister. The appointment of the Secretary General of al-Haq, another Islamic party, as Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) did not bode well for the YRR, which had held this portfolio in the previous cabinet. This indicates that the government intend to strike at the fundamentalists and take control of the mosques, most of whose preachers are considered supporters of YRR. The al-Haq party is a supporter of the Zaidi tendency [an offshoot of the Shiite Muslim sect] while YRR fundamentalists are Sunnite Muslim31.

The Yemeni political parties

One ancient Yemeni poet says: "The unluckiest man in the world is who rides the lion or rules Yemen".

This shows how much Yemeni politics is complex. Many lines become crossed and contradictions coexist, where ideology goes hand in hand with patronage and nepotism with discipline.

The multiparty system in the Yemen was a new experiment implemented with the unity not a choice, but out of a necessity for compromise before unity. In the North, the erstwhile regime was closed to parties, their activities were depicted as treason or allied with foreign interests. The former regime in the South, on the other hand, was adapted to a single-party system. At the outset of unification as the system was opened, political parties proliferated reaching a total of around 46. Some of these had already existed and worked underground, but the majority were new.

By August 1997, however, only 15 parties continue to existence; the rest have disappeared. The most important are: the GPC, YSP, YRR, the Ba'ath (2 lines), the Nasserite factions (7 lines), al-Haqq, the Sons of Yemen League, the Union of Popular Forces and the Yemeni Unionist Aggregation.

There are two aspects of Yemeni political parties that should be highlighted. The first, is internal, consisting of social, economic and political features. Parties resemble their context since Yemeni society is weak and fragmented, with about 70 percent illiteracy. This is reflected on the political consciousness, where personality is more important than the party programme. Also, a weakness of the production base means there is a lack of funds to enable parties to carry out their original functions. Society has definite social strata, which pushes parties toward a populism discourse and ambiguous programmes. Parties look for financing either from the government or from abroad, both of which expand the gap between leadership and constituency. In addition, there is the phenomenon that the popularity of some parties is based on personality, family or tribe. Personal connections and patronage assume greater importance than the programmes and policies. Lacking of intra-party democracy leads to the party being treated as if it is a private asset. The party activities and the political agenda, if at all, are centred around the personality of the leader. This explains one aspect of the frequent cycle of violence in the Yemeni political scene.

The second point is, that all Yemeni political debate is based on imported ideologies. For instance, the Nationalist discourse is borrowed from Nasser or the Ba'ath, the international socialist is borrowed from Marx, Lenin or Mao, and the religious discourse is an extension of Wahhabism, Iran, al-Turabi or the Muslim Brethren. Enrichment of political discourse is desirable, but a discourse that is based on, and reflects the Yemeni peculiarity and dealing with the Yemeni problems in a rational way is still absent, and the solutions that are submitted are irrelevant32. This means it difficult to mobilise the masses.

The economic situation

Four key economic variables impinge on Yemen's future: the development of the hydrocarbons sector and the revenues obtained from it; the fate of the returnees, mainly the former workers in Saudi Arabia; the level of international aid; and the success of the programme to restructure and the subsequent efforts to attract domestic and expatriate investment [Nonneman: 86]. The way these develop depends to differing degrees on the political stability of the government. Given the acute financial difficulties and the high level of unemployment in the Yemen, these are urgent problems.

Yemen's economy is in a state of acute crisis, characterised by a chronic deficit in the balance of payments, a continuing deficit in government spending, and a mounting foreign debt. The projected deficit for the country's current account for 1995 was $1.1 billion, rising to $1.5 billion in 1996. The government's budget deficit has been running consistently at between 20 and 30 per cent of the GDP in recent years. No budgets were issued in 1993 and 1994, but the deficit in these two years has been estimated at some 30 billion YR and 50 billion YR respectively [Ibid. : 87]. When the 1995 budget looked as if it was spiralling still further out of control, the government promised to reduce the deficit from 60 billion to 37 billion YR, a promise that it was unable to keep33. The average exchange rate of the YR against the US dollar was 29 (1992), 54 (1993), 130 (1994), and 125 (1995): this in itself is an indication of the difficulties the economy is suffering.

By the end of 1995 the official foreign debt was estimated at close to $10 billion. This includes a debt of $3-4 billion owed to the former Eastern bloc. At current exchange rates, it will be hard to repay this debt. There is however, no agreement over whether the Eastern bloc debt will be repaid and, if it is, how this will be done [loc. cit.].

The flow of aid depends in large measures on good foreign relations, especially with Saudi Arabia. There has already been some modest success achieved in this respect. Although, Yemen still receives some foreign aid, it is, however, unlikely ever to receive aid at the levels that prevailed in the 1980s.

There is an urgent need to regain a higher level of expatriate employment, both for the relief of the financial deficit and because of the extremely high level of unemployment. In mid-1995, it was estimated that between 40 and 50 per cent of the labour force were either unemployed or underemployed34. As well as being a huge social and economic problem, this may have serious political implications. Again there is a serious need for improved foreign relations with the Gulf states.

Government spending must be kept under tight control. The difficulty here is that reductions in subsidies are likely to be politically unpopular, and that patronage spending is likely to continue. In addition, the situation has been exacerbated by an uncontrolled presidential budget and on going high scaling down of military spending35.

There is a desperate need for aid from the IMF and the World Bank, although this depends on the restructuring and stabilisation of the Yemeni economy. In December 1995 and January 1996 a package of reforms and measures was agreed by the government and the international institutions and by the January 1996, both sides declared themselves moderately confident about the chances of the package proving successful. This agreement holds out significant promise for further liberalisation of the economy and investment conditions. The government promised that some 15 to 20 public enterprises would be privatised with a reduction of some 60,000 public employees, and also subsidies on energy, water, health and education would be reduced36.

Oil production in 1997 might be expanded to 400,000 b/d, with the government receiving 40 per cent of its revenues. However, it seems clear that the government's share of oil revenue would remain at under $1 billion in 199737. Taking into account the modest production, modest proven reserves, generous acquisition of oil by the companies and the uncertainty of the expectations of the liquidation of natural gas project, it is clear that oil on its own cannot be the answer to the Yemen's problems.

Outside the hydrocarbons sector, and apart from the potential of fishing which has remained till now seriously underdeveloped, it is clear that in the longer term what is required is economic diversification and the growth of industry. It is important that the country promotes production for export as well as attracting expatriate and foreign investment.

Potentiality for the creation of a strong state

According to Migdal [271-77] there are four conditions which are prerequisites for the creation of a strong state: world historical timing, military threat, a basis for an independent bureaucracy and a skilful leadership. With regards to the Yemen, the first two conditions have been accomplished, but the latter two do not yet exist.

The historical moment was created by the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the emergence of a single world order; a high level of Arab co-operation and solidarity in the first half of 1990, which allowed Saudi Arabia to see Yemen unification in a more positive light. These contributed crucially to the existence of the unified Yemen as it stands as an historical moment. At this point, the external political forces favoured concentrated and streamlined social control under a unified regime, which would make a good ally.

This was cemented by a vulnerability in both former Yemeni regimes under the pressure of their financial deficiencies. A provisional economic gain from the mutual ownership of oilfields made them more enthusiastic to proceed towards unity.

In addition, to the popularity of the idea of unity among the people. The unification in itself provided the opportunity for an aggregation of power and resources, especially as economic disparities were negligible. Finally, this led to the merger of the two states as the first step towards the creation of a strong state.

The military threat arose from within, rather than from outside, namely, from the power struggle between the GPC and the YSP, through which the leaders were motivated to consolidate their power. The victory of President Salih was a further step towards the creation of a strong state. Although possibly at the expense of democracy, it enabled the regime to assume and concentrate power. It was assumed that had the YSP won the war, the cost would have been much higher, because of the disparity in population, for the resistance would have weakened the state. In contrast, despite grievances and frustration, the majority of the people supported the unification and were incorporated into the new way of life. Therefore, the war of 1994 led to a concentration of control and power instead of dispersal, one of the prerequisites for the creation of a strong state.

Paradoxically, there exists neither skilful top leadership nor any social groupings (such as a cadre with skills) independent of the existing bases of social control. These two strata are not clearly distinguished in Yemen. The structure of control that exists today is largely the same as the one that predominated in the YAR before unification. Inevitably some features have changed. For instance, with unification, the area and the population of the state increased, and there was an increase in the revenues from the acquisition of the resources of the South. Also, a manipulated democracy was adopted. Apart from these adjustments, the structure of control remained much the same as it had been under the old coalition in the YAR.

After the 1962 revolution in the North (YAR), a civil war erupted between the royalists and the republicans. Both sides called on the tribes for support, thus creating a critical moment for the tribes with the potential to restore their power. Since then, the tribes have found themselves in a favourable position to maintain their political and military autonomy vis-à-vis the state [Peterson, 1982: 174]. Long after the war ended, the tribes remained heavily armed, with the respective governments have found themselves managing rather than governing the tribes. The tribal Shaykhs constituted a key political elite, who controlled the linkage between the tribesmen and the state. Therefore, Shaykhs were getting a financial payment from the state in order to maintained social stability, while at the same time they were also receiving another revenues from Saudi Arabia for that country's own political ends [Dresch, 1989: 19]. Furthermore, the regime in the YAR co-opted the Shaykhs, who represented key power centres, into the cabinet, the Advisory Council and the army [Peterson: 183]. Drawing on huge revenues, the Shaykhs participated in business and trade these with other entrepreneurs and merchants, who managed the business, while the Shaykhs retained their status and positions as both tribal leaders and government officials [al-Wazir: 176].

A triangle of accommodation has been created at the centre, consisting of military leaders, the most powerful of the Shaykhs and the influential merchants. Initially, the regime had tried to neutralise the power of the Shaykhs, but later found it expedient to involve them. By this means, the Shaykhs gained massive influence based on power and wealth. The merchants gained through preferential deals with the state and being able to flout the law and regulations. Paul Dresch has called this structure of control the "military-tribal-commercial complex"38.

There are also middle-ranking Shaykhs, connected with the people and extremely honest. The government and the top Shaykhs depend on them for the implementation of their policies39 in co-operation with the middle-level of officials, who are the working intermediaries. This stratum does not form part of the complex, but is rather one of its tools and sometimes its victims. These middle Shaykhs and officials compete for ties with the centre to acquired wealth and power. The ruling complex, however, prevents the accumulation of wealth and power outside its own ranks by instigating tribal disputes40, a move which depletes the wealth of the middle Shaykhs and exhausts their power. This leaves these intermediaries in need of connections with the centre in an endless and vicious circle. The centre also uses its power of appointment and dismissal to prevent the middle-level officials from consolidating their power. However, because of the modest state presence at the local level, this accommodation process have not been very effective.

After the war of 1994, the previous structure of control was expanded to cover the whole of the unified Yemen. The changes that took place included the incorporation of some influential southern figures into the dominated complex. It is worth noting that with the exception of the military ruling group, the dominated complex has not drawn from any particular tribe or province, but tribal parochialism has been replaced by nepotism and corruption41.

With such a context, the state has both strong and weak characteristics existing at the same time. It is strong, mainly in the urban areas, in its penetration of society and in maintaining control, but it is weak in carrying out expected functions, such as providing good health care, reasonable education, social security and so on. The weak production base, exploration of oil and poor development plans mean that the government prefers to continue as a rentier economy. A large share of the state's revenues has gone to fuel the means of violence, such as the army, security forces and the PSO. This is accompanied by the excessive spending of the President, which is vital for the survival of the regime, but means that the government has failed to accomplish its development plan because of the financial shortages. However, the elections of 1997 gave such a majority to the GPC under President Salih, that the blame for failure can no longer be shifted onto other shoulders. Unless the government can be seen to achieve some success in the alleviation of poverty, decreasing of inflation and the rate of unemployment, sustaining the regime's strategy for control will be difficult.


5. Conclusion

AS IT has been observed, Yemeni politics during the period 1990-97 were characterised by discontinuity in terms of their methods and their targets. Whereas, the politics of survival predominated during the first four years of the unification 1990-94, ending with the defeat of the YSP. A consociational/corporatist policies have prevailed from 1994 onwards.

The main point that one should notice is that consociational/corporatism is not a new policy adopted in the Yemen. If one imagines the policy as a line extending from the beginning of President Salih's rule in 1978 up to 1997, it will be observed that corporatism has been a main policy throughout that streamline. This streamline was interrupted only during the period 1990-94, after which all its previous characteristics were restored.

Nevertheless, some variables, which did not exist before, such as manipulated democracy, the evolution of civic organisations, changes of demographic features of the state and the adaptation of structural adjustment, were introduced into the Yemeni political scene. These variables might create a modified consociational/corporatism, which might include some new groups and/or exclude others. Also, by changing the institutional base, on which corporatism was previously dependent, the above mentioned variables had developed an expanded institutional structure that could push towards new forms of coalition.

For this reason, although Migdal's approach was an impressive tool, useful for the understanding of Yemeni politics between 1990 and 94, it has shortcomings in explaining Yemeni politics in ensuing years. Inevitably ,therefore, an approach must be sought to fill the gaps left by Migdal's. Therefore, in addition to Migdal the approaches of Bianchi, Ayubi and Dresch might be found suitable for the creation of a skilful perspective in the explanation of Yemeni politics.

Migdal provides a proficient tool for explaining some aspects of Yemeni politics. For example, his approach exhibits the duality of the state of Yemen, where the strength of the state can be seen in its ability to maintain social control. Alongside the weakness of the state, which may be seen in its failure to achieve social change, to carry out effective administrative functions and to provide adequate social services.

Migdal's approach does give a detailed explanation of the politics of survival, the main politics in Yemen for the period 1990-94. This approach, therefore, is appropriate for a political analysis of that period. For example, a physical model, that had been applied excessively during these years, is that where a state agency creates centrifugal tendencies within itself while the leaders attempt to counterbalance these tendencies by creating centripetal forces. As has been seen, the GPC and the YSP, rivals for power, both adopted this model in order to consolidate its own power and to weaken the rival's power. President Salih used this method skilfully, enhanced with his monopoly of state resources and his use of rewards and sanctions to cause fragmentation and to create dessintions within the YSP.

All three types of action constituting the politics of survival had been used: the big shuffle, nonmerit appointment and dirty tricks. The big shuffle, occurs when the leader has the power to appoint to or dismiss from office. Both the ruling partners, the GPC and the YSP were in competition for the important government posts. Despite the formula for sharing power, that they had both agreed to, there grew up a tacit rivalry by which one impeded the other, and each of the partners tried to manipulate the organisation of the state for its own political interest.

The second action in the politics of survival is the nonmerit appointment, where the only criteria for making an appointments is personal loyalty. This method was used mainly by the President, who relied on patronage and client ties that he had inherited from the YAR. So, key posts in the government were occupied either by President's relatives or by persons loyal to him, mostly from the Sanhan and Hamdan tribes, who are part of the Hashid tribal confederation. Relatively, the YSP lacked power in this kind of political action, because of its ideological platform and its organisational structure, which thus minimised the concentration of power in certain tribe or province.

The third action, dirty tricks, includes illegal methods of removing rivals. Although these methods, mainly assassinations, were used by both the GPC and the YSP, the YSP was the bigger loser because of the involvement of a third party, the YRR. The YRR was the ally of the GPC and it was accused by the YSP for the most assassinations that were laid against the YSP's members. This gave the GPC a great advantage, appear to be a mediator, although in reality they were who running the show.

In addition, as Migdal has explained the accommodation process, it takes place on two different levels. In the first level, the top state leadership accommodates two kinds of social control: the first, is when local strongmen are allowed to develop social control in order to gain social stability at a local level; the second is through power centres at national level, in which the leaders conduct their dealings through discriminatory and/or preferential policies.

The second level of accommodation takes place at local and regional levels, where the implementors of state policies, their supervisors and local strongmen accommodate one another in a web of political, economic and social exchange.

This accommodation concept contributes to the explanation of the way that state policies in the Yemen have been distorted and the resources redirected as they filter down to society. The predomination of the politics of survival forced the rivals to become involve in the accommodation process.

The GPC and the YSP were competing to consolidate their power and to mobilise people, which led to their strengthening their ties with different influential groups and individuals. Whereas the YSP neither re-incorporated the ex-Southern powers nor achieved loyalty of Northern power centres, the GPC had a well established network of interdependent military, tribal, commercial and religious interests. This was strengthened by incorporating those southern powers, that the YSP had failed to incorporate or was not interested in.

Nevertheless, the balance between the rivals created a sort of accommodation, involved groups without sufficient influence, which would otherwise not be involved. After the threat of the YSP was removed, such groups failed to sustain their privileged relations with the centre. These groups included the middle Shaykhs, local notables in the peripheries, intellectuals, workers and peasants. This accommodation process was not effective because of the modest presence of the state at the peripheries.

Despite the usefulness of Migdal's approach, it leaves gaps in the understanding of Yemeni politics. For example, it fails explain the discontinuity of accommodation in the peripheries. Also, it is deficient in elaborating the politics of the post-war period 1994-97, during which the politics of survival diminished as a result of the YSP defeat. In addition, this approach does not explain determinants of the different coalitions or the changes that took place during the time of transition from one mode of production to another, or the situation under the pressure of structural adjustment where the need for modernisation is concomitant with an awareness of the need for maintaining control.

The shortcomings of Migdal's approach might in part be overcome by the concept of corporatism. Although, Migdal has sketched the corporatism in his theory, but Bianchi [1989] has clarified it in details.

Bianchi deals with the continual formation of new associations and organised interest groups and the various attempts to mould them into some coherent or manipulated pattern of political representation. Yemeni politics are greatly influenced by the presence of actors and groups emerged as a result of the conciliation between the royalists and the republicans in the early 1970s. President Salih, who himself assumed power in 1978 reflected the interests of these actors and groups. So, the victory of Salih in 1994 has entailed the continuation of the pre-unification interests.

For this reason, Yemen ended up with a situation of a compartmentalised politics, where the state policies impeded by special interests. This has resulted in a strategic compromise, a system of corporate pluralism, which involves endless bargains made between the regime and the leadership of individual groups. Subsequently, results in an increasing incoherence of policies and institutions, but prevents the emergence of strong interest group coalitions or of a united opposition.

However, a limited development of associations in Yemen makes the different interests represented through personal contacts, patronage or client ties. Ayubi's approach of consociational/corporatism, enhances the analysis here. Ayubi [1995] asserts, that it is not true, as modernisation theories claim, that political integration and state building can only take place through the eradication of traditional solidarities and intermediary linkages. Patronage and bureaucratic linkages are not necessarily alternative, they can go hand in hand. In corporatism generally, individuals and classes do not interact with the state directly, but rather through intermediaries.

Ayubi defines consociation as a grand coalition based on high internal autonomy, with a proportionate measure of representation and mutual veto [Ayubi: 190]. Thus, he assumes the premise that consociational/corporatism is based on a collaborative rather than a conflictual approach. It is probably more typical of articulatory periods during which class or group hegemony is not possible.

The formula of corporatism in the Yemen after 1994 gives the appearance of avoiding disastrous conflicts between the GPC and the YRR, where it has solved the problem of the power distribution and modernisation without the sacrifice of the identity of the society. This formula appears to be convenient for elites wishing to initiate modernisation, while controlling its form and direction.

Notwithstanding, that corporatism in Yemen tends to be community-centred, which emerged in conditions of early modernisation, representing an attempt to involve pre-capitalist social groupings in which classes were not yet well defined yet. By this means, the consociational/corporatism formula ends with a weak state, which embedded in its social environment and impeded by contradictory interests.

In the Yemeni situation, the military group was dominant and applied a policy of differential incorporation to other groups, such as the tribal Shaykhs and merchants. For this reason, it may prove useful to use the approach of Dresch, who describes a military-commercial complex.

Dresch [1995: 34] indicates, that the GPC was established in the North, at the beginning of the 1980s, as an alternative to party politics. It was intended that local committees should elect regional committees, and the whole would culminate in a national committee structure, which would reflect the will of the people. Very rapidly, however, the system came to work from the top-down, through an elaborative system of patronage, opposite to the intended direction. The state became corrupt, turning into and a family business. Power centres developed around the military family, which were strongly linked to the centre by interdependent interests. This is what Dresch called a military-commercial complex. High-ranking army officers, important Shaykhs and a few great merchant families all had their hands in each other's pockets, and between them they had the state under their control.

In order to understand how this complex evolved, it should be borne in mind that, historically, in pre-unification period, North Yemen witnessed two types of economic system. The first, predominated in Lower Yemen, a semi-feudal system existed, in which the tribal leaders owned the arable land and tribesmen were obliged under their need to work on this land. This meant, that the wealth was concentrated in the hands of the leaders , and it explains the spread of progressive social thought in this part of Yemen.

The second type, predominated in Upper Yemen, where a pastoral economic system existed, where in the tribal leaders owned no more land than any other tribesman. In this case, the leader's power was derived from an unwritten code of practice, which was inherited and passed from generation to generation, whereby tribesmen owed loyalty to the leader and were expected to obey and support him. Later in 1970, the reconciliation between royalists and republicans gave the tribal leaders of Upper Yemen power gained from wealth derived from their access to state resources through their government posts.

Therefore, the tribal leaders of both Upper and Lower Yemen had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, which is why they have always resisted any programme that might restrict their power. This stance has also been reinforced by external support.

When President Salih seized power in 1978, he appeared to be continuing on the same broad course that President Hamdi laid out of state building, institutionalisation and the leading role of the state in promoting socio-economic development. President Salih, however, retreated from pursuing these programmes of development in order to escape the same fate as Hamdi, who was assassinated in 1977. In part, this explains why the nation-state building still lags far behind.

There are two main points, that clarify the structure of military-commercial complex. The first, is that the tribes and the government are not separate entities, where the tribesmen hold governmental jobs, but the tribal leaders are prominent in the state apparatus.

The second point, is that the majority of the people of Yemen are from tribal origins and are most of them deprived, even those whose leaders hold high posts in government. This shows that the co-optation of tribal leaders into the state apparatus does not necessarily lead to benefits for their tribes.

During the last decade, a filtration process has taken place, which has resulted in narrowing the circle of the complex. In other word, confine the influence of wealth and authority on a less number of actors and groups as much as possible. Also, the centre has dealt with other actors and groups through intermediaries. Two results have ensued; the first, is that there has been a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of high-ranking army officers, the most influential Shaykhs and a few commercial families. The second result, was the distancing of the President from his constituents leading to a reduction in his popularity as well as the distancing of the major Shaykhs from their followers.

It is ironic that heritage and culture were based on morals, which ensured that individuals gave respect and obedience to their Shaykhs, even when these leaders sought benefits for themselves at the expense of their followers.

This potential power of the Shaykhs was the driving force behind the President's attempt to control the army through tightly knit connections. For example, President Salih's brother Muhammad commands Central Security, his half-brother Ali Salih Abdullah is in charge of the Republican Guards, Muhammad Salih runs the air force, Ali Muhsin Salih the First Armoured Division, and so on. The North Yemen, therefore, entered the unification, where this complex was the genuine ruling structure and after the defeat of the YSP in 1994, this complex has retained its efficacy.

With regard to the domestic balance, it is naive to assume that the President has the power to implement policies, that might disaffect the power centres. The President has neither the sufficient power, nor the inclination to risk losing their support. Coalescence of the military-commercial complex, however, has been cemented by two factors. The first, was the exposure to an external threat such as that posed by the YSP.

The second, was the existence of interdependent interests, where the commercial part of the ruling complex has managed the assets and maximised the profits of tribal and military parts of the complex. Also, the commercial part has been used by the authority to balance the exchange rates and to stabilise the economy. At the same time, the tribal part of the complex has guaranteed social stability, while the military part of the ruling complex has provided the tribal and the commercial parts with the needed protection and using official influence for their own interests.

Despite the successful working of this strategy, there are two factors that could lead to the break down of this coalition. The first, as al-Wazir [1988] points out, that there is a reveres relationships between the power of the army and the power of the Shaykhs. As the army grows in strength, so the Shaykhs weaken and vice versa. The tribal part of the complex, therefore, is keeping an eye on the army, but lack the ability to influence it. The Shaykhs do believe, that once the army reaches a certain level of power, then the President will topple them.

The second, is the economic development. Before unification the government relied on neighbouring states to give financial support to the Central Bank. Moreover, the workers remittances were participated in the relief of poverty. But after the union in 1990, such hand outs from Yemen's neighbours came only at a very high price politically. Also, the repatriation of workers from the Gulf states after the Gulf crisis deepened the financial crisis of the government. This has been exacerbated by the prevalence of corruption and mismanagement.

Therefore, unless achieving an economic progress, which can alleviate poverty and decreases the rates of inflation and unemployment, it will be difficult to sustain a strategy that will retain control of the military-commercial complex.

Finally, the package of perspectives must include: Migdal's, Ayubi's, Bianchi's and Dresch's approaches in order to produce an understandable and logical analysis of Yemeni politics. Using but a single approach would provide only a partial picture of what appears to be a dense and complicated forest.

Copyright © Ahmed Abdel-Karim Saif 1998

     

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Last revised on 25 June, 2007