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In this regard and as pointed out by Seiler, 2001, “from an etymological point of view, the word ‘party’ and its different translations such as ‘parti’, ‘partido’, ‘partito’, ‘partei’, ‘partia’ in Russian or Polish and ‘part’ in Hungarian, they all derive from a French verb that today no longer exists: ‘partir’, which meant to ‘make parts’. This meaning implied in a very clear manner the action of dividing any given totality. The concept of ‘party’always refers to division and thus to conflict, which explains the lack of popularity that was initially attached to parties” p. 6.
TillyandCastañeda, 2007, p. 39.
Tilly defines repertoire (social movement repertoire) as the employment of combinations from among the following forms of political action: creation of special-purpose associations and coalitions, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petition drives, statements to and in public media, and pamphleteering. Tilly, 2004, p. 3. It must be also noted that as Tilly stresses “the notion of repertoire is a simplifying model. It incorporates a sense of regularity, order, and deliberate choice into conflict; the model may well appear to leave no room for anger, drunkenness, spontaneity, and the pleasure of a good whack at an enemy’s shins. In my sketch, it makes little allowance for variation by time, place, and social group, and implies neat, rapid, comprehensive transitions from one limited set of forms to the next. All that sounds hopelessly unrealistic.” He further adds: “In its weakest version, the notion of repertoire is simply a metaphor to remind us that routines become recognizable to participants as well as to observers, and have something of an independent story. In its strongest version, the notion of repertoire amounts to an hypothesis of deliberate choice by contenders among well-defined alternative modes of action, with both the available alternatives and the choices contenders make among them changing continuously as a consequence of the outcomes of previous actions. In its intermediate version, the notion of repertoire states a model in which the accumulated experience of contenders interacts with the strategies of authorities to make limited number of forms of action more feasible, attractive, and frequent than many others which could, in principle, serve the same interests.” Tilly, 1981, p. 9-10.
Sites of contention are human settings that serve as originators, objects, and/or arenas of contentious politics. Sites may be human individuals, but they also include informal networks, organizations, neighborhoods, professions, trades, and other settings of social life. Each kind of site has its own peculiarities. TillyandTarrow, 2006, p. 202-203.
Brackets are mine.
TillyandCastañeda, op. cit.p. 39.
Lipset and Rokkan (Ed.), 1967. Lipset and Rokkan explain that there are four cleavages product of critical episodes in history (such as the French, the Industrial or the Russian revolution). These cleavages are (a) the central nation-building culture and the increasing resistance of populations in the peripheries; (b) the centralizing nation-state versus the corporate privileges of the church; c) landed interests and industrial entrepreneurs and d) employers and workers. Lipset and Rokkan suggest that the institutionalization of these conflicts resulted in parties, yet how these cleavages translated into parties is not entirely clear.
Tilly and Castañeda, op. cit. Episodes are explained as “bounded sequences of continuous interaction, usually produced by an investigator’s chopping up longer streams of contention into segments for purposes of systematic observation, comparison, and explanation. Example: We might compare successive petition drives of antislavery activists in Great Britain (each drive counting as a single episode) over the twenty years after 1785, thus not only seeing how participants in one drive learned from the previous drive but also documenting how the movement as a whole evolved”, p. 43.
Interview held with ‘Abd Allâh Sa’tar, president of the Social Welfare Committee and member of the Majlis al-Shûrâ in the Islah Party, November 4, 2008, Sanaa.
The parties that compose the JMP are: the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah), the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), the Popular Nasserite Unity Organization (PNUO), the National Socialist Arab Ba‘ath Party, the Union of Popular Forces (UPF) and the al-/Haqq Party (both Zaydi-oriented parties).
Although other contentious dynamics might exist inside Islah, this paper will focus on the two dynamics selected. In light of this, this paper will leave aside personalities that also contend the party in different ways, for instance Hamîd al-A/hmar who could be situated at the center of a hybrid dynamic in terms of his tribal links and family allegiance to the President, and his role in the opposition JMP. Hamîd al-A/hmar is one of the sons of Shaykh ‘Abd Allâh al-A/hmar. He is also a businessman and an Islah MP since 1993. Since 2006 he has been playing an important role inside the JMP coalition and the National Consultation Meeting, launched in 2008 by the JMP in order to have their own national dialogue platform. This possible third dynamic remains in this paper as a proposal for further research.
Tilly and Tarrow, 2006, op. cit., p. 204.
Expression borrowed from Browers, 2007.
The YAR was established in 1962 through a military coup against a theocratic state ruled by a hereditary line of Zaydi Imams. Egypt played an important role in this coup as it intervened in Yemen against royalists that were backed by Saudi Arabia.
The PDRY was established in 1967, when the British troops withdrew from the port of Aden giving place to the birth of the People’s Republic of South Yemen (PRSY), which in 1970 adopted a Marxist orientation and became the People Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY).
Political Action Program of the Yemeni Islah Party, Draft for the Yemeni Republic, p. 5. Undated.
Wiktorowicz, 2004, p. 210. For further reading refer to Burgat and Sbitli, 2003, p. 47-67.
As argued by Burgat and Sbitli, the idea of reform among the Yemenis that were influenced by /Hasan al-Banna’s thought, (which was diffused in Yemen by his personal emissary al-Fudhayl al-Wartilânî, who arrived in 1947), dates back to the project of reform that nourished the Free Yemeni Movement at the time of the imamate. The reforms supported by the Egyptian Muslim Brothers were at the core of the constitutional revolution of 1948, which was the first organized attempt to end both the isolationism and the absolutism of the Zaydi imamate in order to establish a constitutional monarchy. The influence of Muslim Brothers in dynamics of political modernization continued despite the failure of this attempt. It is in this light that “an ideology close to that of the Muslim Brotherhood anchored the republican modernization to the destiny of contemporary Yemen.” Furthermore, the presence of Muslim Brothers among the numerous Egyptian teachers sent to Yemen after the Egyptian retreat in 1967 was a major element in the dynamic of political modernization that took place after the civil war between royalists and republicans. This presence determined the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Yemen, although the establishment of a proper party remains unclear. Burgat and Sbitli, op. cit., p. 58, 66-67.
Interview held with Nâsir Yahyâ, September 8, 2008, and with ‘Abd Allâh Sa‘tar, op. cit., November 2008.
In relation to how the party is externally described Zayd ‘Alî al-Shâmî, member of the parliament and a founding member of Islah, stressed “people outside Islah wants us to stay rigid, but we change and have changed following the needs of the country (…). That is why we gather different ideas inside one party.” Interview held on March 18, 2009, Sanaa.
Interview with Nâsir Yahyâ, Ibid.
Phillips, 2008, p. 51.
Schwedler, op. cit., 2006, p. 70.
Browers, op. cit., p. 566. Schwedler’s work referred by Browers is Schwedler, 2006.
Yemen’s tribal system is dominated by two main tribes, the /Hâshid and the Bakîl. For a more detailed analysis of tribes in Yemen refer to Dresch, 1989 and Dresch andHaykel, 1995, p. 406.
In 1982, when the GPC was created, Shaykh al-A/hmar was appointed to the permanent council of this party, Cf. BonnefoyandPoirier, 2010.
BonnefoyandPoirier, op. cit., p. 67.
Ibid, p. 64.
BonnefoyandPoirier, op. cit., p. 80.
“Unlike al-Zindânî and al-A/hmar, Islah leaders al-Yadûmî, Qa/htân, and al-Anisî are each referred to not as “shaykh” in Islah party documents, but as “professors” (asâtidha), signifying their status as party intellectuals rather than as religious authorities or spiritual guides. The shaykh-professor distinction may indicate a juxtaposition of “traditional” and “modern” as well.” Browers, op. cit., p. 575 and p. 585.
The Islah Party re-elected al-Yadûmî as successor to Shaykh al-A/hmar in the presidency of the party during the second part of the Fourth Conference of the Islah Party, held on March 12, 2009. Yemen Times, March 16, 2009.
BonnefoyandPoirier, op. cit., p. 80.
Browers, op. cit.
Salafism developed during the beginning of 1980s around the figure of Shaykh Muqbil bin Hâdî al-Wâdi‘î, whom established his institute Dâr al-hadîth in the region of Saada, a Zaydi historical cradle from where he was from. The adherence to Salafism is characterized by a rigid interpretation of Islamic texts, a succinct practice, a reject of political participation, a submission to the State and to the power holder, and a critique of other political or religious streams, such as Muslim Brothers, Sufis, Ismailis, and Zaydis. Bonnefoy, 2008 (a), p. 201‑215. Some Salafis are also called Wahhabis because of their ties to Saudi Arabia. They are considered to be more conservative than Brotherhood members, particularly concerning pluralism and the role of women. Schwedler, 2002, p. 48-55. Also see Bonnefoy, in (Ed.) Rougier, 2008 (b).
Phillips, op. cit., p. 138.
Ahmad Al-Yamanî, 2003, p. 51.
Phillips, 2008, quoting Schwedler, p. 54.
Ibid, Phillips is here quoting Saif.
Namely four: center-periphery, church-state, land-industry and capitalists-workers.
Church-State may be adapted as Islam-state, center-periphery by Arabism-decentralism, capitalists-workers does not pose any problems, and land-industry by totalitarian parties and liberal parties. Baduel, 1996, p. 28‑29.
Camau andGeisser, 2002, p. 242.
Catusse and Karam note this specifically when dealing with political parties from Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco and Yemen, in Catusse and Karam, 2010, p. 21.
This argument is developed in the following pages.
In this respect founding member of the party Zayd ‘Alî al-Shâmî explains “we called it ‘congregation’ because we meant by this to gather different parts of Yemeni society: the political, social, cultural and religious sectors of society. We created this congregation to fight for reform in a pacific way. This idea was also the one embraced by older reformists, the old reformist movement, who started a new movement so as to achieve freedom and peaceful change of power.” Interview quoted.
This trap first described by Sartori, 1994 (in which “conceptual stretching” tends to be used to encompass realities that are far from being the same thus voiding them from their real meaning), engaged by Seiler, 2001, and questioned by Catusse, 2006, points out to the necessity to better approach the definition of political parties in Arab countries, which in the Yemeni case would need to be developed and would thus require another space than the one provided by this article.
Tilly, 1981, p. 4.
President /Sâli/h’s GPC won 121, and the YSP obtained 56 seats. DreschandHaykel, op. cit., p. 406.
BonnefoyandPoirier, op. cit., p. 16. Three members of the GPC and two socialists previously formed this council.
Burgat,op. cit .
Browers,op. cit. p. 559.
Phillips, op. cit. p. 142.
Wedeen, inAl-RasheedandVitalis, (eds.), 2004, p. 252.
National Democratic Institute (ndi), Report on the 2006 elections in Yemen, p. 8.
Browers, op. cit. p. 571.
Ibid, p. 570.
Phillips, op. cit., p. 143.
Browers, op. cit., p. 578.
Fay/sal bin Shamlân held the post of minister of public works and transports in South Yemen in 1967. Between 1971 and 1990 he was deputy for the Higher People’s Council (PDRY’s parliament). Elected in 1993 and 1997, has been an independent member of the parliament in unified Yemen, and he held the post of Oil and Mineral Resources minister between 1994 and 1995, when he resigned in order to protest against corruption in the parliament. As Bonnefoy and Poirier clarify in relation to the ideological imaginary attached to Shamlân, “Islah’s Islamists found in Shamlân a means to overcome leadership conflicts that divide the Islah party. Shamlân is also identified with the Muslim Brotherhood for in 1990 he participated to the establishment of the Free Yemeni Platform (al-Minbar al-Yamanî al-Hurr) considered as the equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood in the South of the country. Later on Shamlân returned to the political arena as an independent candidate.”, op. cit. p. 19.
Opposition parties refused to accept the vote result, alleging that /Sâli/h won only 68.86% of votes, not 77.17%, Yasser Al-Mayasi, “Salih wins another term, Opposition criticizes results”, Yemen Times, September 25‑27, 2006.
The core of the dispute concerned the aborted reform of the electoral system and the electoral commission. See Poirier, 2009, in particular the reproduction of the escalating rhetoric between the ruling and the opposition parties.
Detalle, 1996, p. 333 and p. 335. It must be noted that the shaykh’s father and brother were decapitated by the Imam. The “debt” is that of the tribe’s allegiance to the republic, especially after the war and the corrective movement that aimed at repressing leftists and ensuring a more conservative orientation in the construction of the Republic.
Schewdler, 2006, op. cit. p. 70.
Browers, op. cit. p. 568.
Bonnefoy and Poirier, op. cit. p. 3.
The Scientific Institutes developed during the 1970s as a way to create a parallel school system financed by Saudi Arabia and initially conceived so as to fight the socialist ideological offensive in the border regions with the Marxist Southern Yemen. These institutes relayed on the stress of Sunni sources and the prophetic tradition, that is, an Islam out of a specific context and depending on certain popular traditions perceived as more authentically Yemeni and expressing a certain cultural and religious diversity. Bonnefoy, 2008 (a), p. 205.
As Tilly notes, repertoires have several different levels: action, performance, campaign and array of performances. TILLY, 1995, p. 43.
Schwedler, op. cit., 2006, p. 176.
Ibid, see p. 180 and p. 185 in relation to these two positions towards democracy.
Ibid, p 61-62.
Ibid, p. 61. The work cited by Schwedler is Carapico, 1998.
Ibid, p. 104. Nine posts were given to Islah’s members. Al-Anisî was promoted to First Deputy Minister.
A Web site of the Yemeni Defence Ministry reported that the US request was part of a letter from US ex‑president, George W. Bush, addressed to President ‘Alî ‘Abd Allâh /Sâli/h, but did not note whether the US asked Yemen to hand in al-Zindânî or just hold him in Yemen. The US also expressed objection for including al-Zindânî in the Yemeni delegation accompanying President /Sâli/h to the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in the end of 2005. The letter noted that al-Zindânî is among those accused by the United Nations of financing terror, noting that he is not allowed to travel and that including him in an official delegation is considered as a violation of UN resolutions. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), 23 November, 2006.
Hassan Al-Zaidi, “al-Zindânî: My reservation is due to security and intelligence factors,” The Yemen Times, November 28, 2006, Issue 775, Volume 13.
This is also a strategically challenging position for /Sâli/h, who has to deal with US’s demands at the same time that he keeps al-Zindânî in Yemen and next to him in terms of power despite the fact that he represents a threat to the US.
Schwedler, op. cit., 2006, p. 113.
Browers,op. cit. p. 582.
Poirier, 2008, p. 140.
Document from the Virtue Authority, Multaqâ al-fa/dîla al-awwal li ‘ulamâ wa mashâyikh wa wujahâ’ al-Yaman (First Virtue meeting for ulemas, shaykhs et notables of Yemen), June, 2008.
‘Abduh Maktaf, “Multaqâ’ al-Fa/dîla yantakhib al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majîd al-Zindânî ra’îsân lil-hay’a,” al-Shaqâ’iq magazine, number 153, 2008.
Mohammed Al-Kibsi, “Vice and Virtue Committee elects its leadership,” Yemen Observer, August 12, 2008.
Document from the Virtue Authority, 2008, op. cit.
Risâla ‘ulama al-Yaman bi-sha’n al-kûtâ al-nisâ’iyya, 2008.
As one of the daughters of al-Zindânî noted “This is not the first fatwa against women’s political participation. Additionally, my father wanted to create another “majlis” only for women and requested this to the government. It was a better system than what we have now and also we need to remember that in the West women are only minorities in the parliaments and political institutions.” Interview with Asmâ’ al-Zindânî, August 15, 2006, Sanaa. In relation to other fatwas issued on the same subject, Tawakkul Karmân, head of Women Journalists Without Chains (Munazzamat Sahafiyât bilâ quyûd) and member of Islah’s majlis al-shûrâ denounced that several other fatwas have been issued and no one has spoken about them, “people only listened to al-Zindânî but they should read what other ulamas have published and demand the ulamas authority to react in relation to this. The problem is not the fatwa but the lack of a political decision from the government that does not give a real opportunity to women.” Interview with Tawakkul Karmân, September 1, 2008, Sanaa. Part of this interview was published by the author in the Yemen Observer series “Women respond to the Vice and Virtue Committee,” Part III, September 13, 2008.
Following a report from the Women National Committee, the Islah Party ranked first in women’s participation in the higher positions of the party, the ruling party, the GPC, ranked second and the Socialist Party third. 8 women out of 13 men in Islah are members of the General Secretariat; 13 women out of 150 men are members of the Consultative Council; and 140 women our out 273 men are members of the Supreme Authority in the Governorates. In comparison to these numbers, 5 women out of 37 men are members of the General Committee at the GPC; 89 women out of 886 men are members of the Permanent Committee; 66 women out of 198 men are members at the Supreme Authority in the Governorates and 1230 women out of 3280 men are members at the Supreme Authority in the Direction of the party. Women National Committee: Wad’ al-mar’â fî al-Yaman, 2007, p. 103.
Interview with the author, November 5, 2008, Sanaa.
Several journalists, analysts and politicians have suggested this possibility, such as Farouk al-Salihi, “Al‑Zindânî’s new authority: a spoiler or split in the Islah party?”, Yemen Times, August 4-6, 2008 ; Hooria Mashoor and Tawakkul Karmân (interviewed in August and September 2008); and politicians from the Islah Party as quoted by Nasir Arrabyee, “Rescuing Yemen from drowning in vice,” Yemen Observer, July 16, 2008, and Ambassador Mustafa Ahmad al-Nu‘mân, “Between religion and politics”, Yemen Times, August 11‑13, 2008. Finally, this possibility was presented even before the Virtue Authority held its first conference, through the JMP’s statement rejecting the Virtue Authority and stating that “The formation of the Vice and Virtue Committee should not conceal the real political intentions behind its formation, which aims to confuse political life in a helpless and exposed attempt to divert the attention from the corruption of the government.” Marebpress.net, July 12, 2008.
Even at the first conference held by the Virtue Authority on July 15, 2008, “no prominent politicians from the Islah Party attended the meeting except Shaykh al-Zindânî” said Nasir Arrabyee, op. cit. “The absence of the highly respected scholar Yasîn ‘Abd al-Azîz al-Qubâti and all Islah Party leaders from the conference is a clear and strong indicator that the idea of both, al-Zindânî and al-Dharîhi (member of Islah) faced strong opposition. The idea was labeled as a hurried action, aimed at creating an atmosphere of animosity between members of Yemeni society,” wrote Mustafa Ahmad al-Nu‘mân, op. cit.
Nabîl al-/Sûfî is the current editor in chief of NewsYemen.net and the monthly magazine Abwâb. Former member at the office of Communication in the Islah Party, he was member of the party’s majlis al-shûrâ during three years and editor in chief of Islah’s newspaper al-/Sa/hwa from 2000 to 2005. Interview held on September 13, 2008, Sanaa.
Interview with Asmâ’ al-Zindânî, August 15, 2008, Sanaa. Asmâ’al-Zindâni studied at al-Imân University and obtained her PhD in religious studies. She is a professor at this university and works on a program about dialogue between religions. As it has been previously quoted ‘Abd Allâh Sa‘tar gave a similar explanation p. 3.
Interview with Ra’ûfa /Hasan, professor at the University of Sanaa and head of the Cultural Development Programs Foundation, September 15, 2008, Sanaa. Part of this interview was published by the author in the Yemen Observer, September 23, 2008.
Interview with In/tilâq al-Mutawakkil, head of the Girls World Communication Center (Markaz al-lughât a‑l‑‘âlamiyya lil-fatayât) and English literature lecturer at the University of Sanaa. September 13, 2008, Sanaa. Part of this interview was published by the author in The Yemen Observer, September 20, 2008.
Interview with Ra’ûfa /Hasan, op. cit.
When dealing with the manner in which case study relate to the comparative method, Sartori refers to Eckstein and Lijphart’s five types of case study: 1) configurative-idiographic (Eckstein), 2) interpretative (Lijphart), 3) hypothesis-generating (Lijphart), 4) crucial (Eckstein), that is, theory-confirming or disconfirming (Lijphart) and 5) deviant (Lijphart). Sartori, 1991, p. 251-252.
Tilly, 1981, p. 10.
McAdam, TarrowandTilly, 2001, p. 7-8.
BonnefoyandPoirier, op. cit., p. 16-17
Ibid, p. 18.
Browers, op. cit., p. 569.
For details see Carapico, Wedeen, andWuerth, 2002, Schwedler (2006) p. 212, and Browers, op. cit. p. 573.
Yemen Times, “The roots of protest: prior elections impact future polls,” November 22, 2003. Read also the Final Report for the Presidential and Local Council Elections 20 September 2006, published by the European Union Election Observation Mission.
In order to read a description of these protests and demonstrations as they occurred throughout several governorates of the country, refer to Yemen Times, “Protests against voter registration process in many governorates,” November 19, 2008.
Yemen Times, “Opposition confirms election boycott,” February 15, 2009.
Poirier, op. cit., 2009.
Yemen Times, “Elections postponed,” February 25, 2009.
Recorded from Sultân Al-‘Atwânî, secretary general of the Nasserist party and JMP speaker, at the Second Session of the 4th General Conference held by the Islah Party on March 11, 2009, Sanaa.
Sultân al-Barkânî, the GPC parliamentary bloc's secretary general, speech pronounced at the conference “Postponing the elections: justifications and objectives,” co-organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Political Development Forum, held on March 17, 2009, Sanaa.
Poirier, op. cit., 2009.
Carapico, 2003, op. cit. It must be noted that the results of this boycott were unsuccessful.
Schwedler, op. cit., 2006, p. 205
Ibid, 2006, p. 180.
Ibid, p. 179.
Phillips, op. cit., p. 139, note 4.
Ibid, p. 195.
Tilly, 1981, p. 6.
I leave aside this case study because it represents a change in this repertoire of contention and as such it shows elements related to a patronized repertoire as well as elements of a more autonomous repertoire. It represents a change and thus a transition that is still not possible to define as one or another type of repertoire. Ultimately, the change seems to be happening towards an autonomous repertoire, for the VVA employed autonomous means of action (or so al-Zindânî and al-A/hmar wished to stress); they created a special interests association (the VVA); as the debate and actions described in this article showed they challenged the Islah Party and the JMP, and somehow the government as well; they assembled a great number of people in front of whom they articulated their claims, displayed programs and slogans, and they held the establishment of the authority in a public space, a conference hall in Sanaa.
Tilly, 1981, p. 7.
Cohen and Rai, 2000, p. 15.
TillyandTarrow, 2006, appendix B, p. 214.
Ibid, p. 214-215.
Tilly and Tarrow, 2006, op. cit. p. 215-217. Haut de page