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Re-emergence of the Yemeni left

Once a central fixture of Yemen’s political scene, the country’s leftist movement has been absent from the scene for the past two decades, but may be making a comeback.
Anti-government demonstrators shout slogans and hold up flags of former South Yemen during a rally near the southern Yemeni city of Habileen October 14, 2009.  A former socialist republic, South Yemen united with North Yemen in 1990 to form the Republic of Yemen.  Protestors called for the secession of South Yemen from the Republic.  REUTERS/Stringer (YEMEN POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXPMBR
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Years ago, no one would have expected an alliance to be formed between the Yemeni Socialist Party and the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (commonly known as Al-Islah, the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen), particularly since both parties were ideologically at odds for decades and went through armed conflicts for years, the last of which took place in 1994. Today, however, it would appear that this alliance is actually forming.

In 1994, Yemen witnessed a devastating civil war. Huge losses were inflicted on the Socialist Party, especially after it announced its split from the north. The state of division that prevailed prior to May 1990 was restored, which led to the Socialist Party losing a large support base in the north. It was left alone to face the militants of the Yemeni General People’s Congress (GPC), the Socialist Party’s main partner in the unification of Yemen in 1990, and those of the Islamist Al-Islah, the ally of the latter back then, in addition to jihadists returning from Afghanistan. The alignment of all these parties against the Socialist Party came as a result of many considerations. The GPC, for example, wanted to get rid of its partner to monopolize its control in North and South Yemen after eradicating the military units of the Yemeni army, which were controlled by the Socialist Party, the sole ruling party of the south. Subsequently, the GPC would be able to put the unarmed Socialist Party at its mercy. For its part, Al-Islah wanted to become an exclusive partner of the GPC in governance and wished to eradicate the socialist ideology with which it was at odds for decades. Al-Islah perceived socialism as a branch of Soviet communist and atheist ideology, which also garnered the attention and ire of the jihadist Arab Afghans who had just come back from the battle fought with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which was directly sponsored by the United States and Gulf countries.

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