BY: Dr. Ali Ahmed Aldailmi
Political Science University Professor
The sectarian strife in Yemen we're facing is not only a political crisis but a sectarian one. It has existed for years but now it's out in the open; Sunni-Shiite tensions are rising in Yemen. Yemeni Zaidis, from the Shia school of thought, accounts for 40 percent and Sunnis 60 percent of the population. Although for centuries both communities managed to live peacefully side by side, political affiliations and regional game plans threw off balance the tacit ideological truce, spurring hatred and violence.
Yemenis never asked if one was Sunni or Shia Zaydi, a branch of Shia Islam closer in theology and practice to traditional Sunni than traditional Shia. In the southern provinces, from Ibb and Taiz southward, Shafii, a branch of Sunni Islam with characteristics closer to Shia’ism exists. Unlike much of the rest of the Arab world, Zaydi is the establishment religion. They have been dominant politically and intellectually from the days of the last Imamate to the current government. It would be a mistake to view the Houthi violence in the north solely through a sectarian prism or respond as if it were a Saudi-Iranian proxy war.
Clashes between Islah (pro Suuni party) and the Houthis, are still located in the province of Saada and its surroundings areas, and have began to infiltrate the capital Sanaa and other regions. Perhaps this is the most dangerous aspect in this renewed controversy because, unlike other differences that bother Yemenis, mingle where sectarian and political dimensions, and despite the keen Islah officials and the Houthis on the dimensions of the sectarian dimension in their statements.
Member of the supreme body of the Yemeni Islah party, Mohammed Qahtan, stressed that there is no differences between Islah and the Houthis, pointing out that the clashes that occur are between tribes and Houthis, not Islah. He did deny that some of these tribes belong to the Islah.
But he criticized the senior member of the Houthi political office ,Yosef AlVichy (Abu Malik) and his practices, describing him as a militant. That was so because AlVichy said that Islah leaders proclaimed themselves as lawyers for the Americans, and accusing the party along with the band first ironclad, led by General dissident Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar of standing against the people.
He also accuses them of standing Behind the assassination attempt against the Secretary-General of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP).
Abu Malik went outside the borders in is talks and defended the weapon that Ansar Allah (Houthis) have saying: "We do not want to repeat the experience of Hezbollah, even though we are proud of them. We want to defend our dignity and ensure that Israel does not exist in the future."
He added, "When a Government of national unity is chosen, then it is possible at the time to talk about the issue of arms."
Sectarianism is also a reflection of the crisis in civil society, and new generations are still searching for this outside Yemen.
Though there has been change, Yemen is still governed by the authority of families and not civilian projects where he became the practice of differentiation genealogical phenomenon practiced by the elite and not the common folk.
This played a major role in the outbreak of sectarian war and widespread in Yemen rages fueled in Saada province north of the capital Sanaa and the neighboring provinces Jawf, Hajjah and Amran. The wars were indirectly led by the current political Islamic party, Islah party (Muslim Brotherhood - Sunni). It made it more complicating with the participation of the Salafists and some tribes who are angered at the Houthi group (Zayoud).
The most dangerous aspect in this things is the silence and violence under the name of religion.
Observers speak with confidence that the Islah Party is trying to exploit the Salafists in the integration and make them a cover for it's agenda and attempt to control and exert influence in those Provinces.Through monitoring and documentation, we find that the media of the Islah party launch organized media campaigns against the Houthis despite their presence together in the sit-in squares during last years uprising.
Today, the main challenge is for all Yemenis and all political trends is to work together to define the basis of a new political order and a new Democratic State.
It is time for national consensus. Once new rules are accepted by all, then the political competition can start. To reach that goal, the process must be inclusive and all the Yemenis must participate in the national dialogue.It is very challenging, because of the lack of trust between parties, but it is possible.
I am sure that Yemenis will show the world that they are able to live in harmony in a democratic state and they will prove to all that regional, social and political diversity can be a force rather than a weakness.
It is time for dialogue. I believe that the National Dialogue can play a crucial part in promoting stability and the authority of the state in Yemen.