Source: Yemen Times
The Houthi takeover of Amran on July 8 has prompted leading Islah party figures to consider political realignment with the General People’s Congress (GPC).
Leading members of Islah, Yemen’s second largest party, have made a number of conciliatory gestures towards the GPC as of late, signaling a move away from its long-term opposition towards the party, of which former President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains the nominal leader.
Since 2011, the Houthis have taken over Sa’ada, Amran, broad areas of Hajja and Al-Jawf, and several villages in Sana’a governorate.
Zaid Al-Shami, head of the Islah bloc in parliament, posted a statement on his Facebook page on July 12 demanding Islah leaders to revisit their alliance with political parties in Yemen, particularly the GPC.
Attempts at a rapprochement were also made by leading Islah member Abdulla Al-Odaini. According to an article published by the Yemen Today newspaper, during his Friday sermon in Taiz on July 11 he described the GPC as a leading political party and as “one of the peace pillars in Yemen.”
“The GPC should ally with the Islah Party and the Rashad Salafi Union in order to fend off the dangers that the Houthis pose to the Yemeni people,” the newspaper quoted Al-Odaini as saying.
According to Yaseen Al-Tamimi, a Sana’a-based political analyst, “the statements of the Islah leadership, particularly Zaid Al-Shami, do not suggest rebuilding relations with Saleh.” He explains that leading Islah members like Al-Shami are referring to their relationship with the GPC as a party.
Major fault lines have opened up within the GPC since the 2011 uprising and Hadi’s election to Yemen’s presidency in February 2012. Two major camps center around Hadi and Saleh.
The GPC and the Islah Party were previously allies, forming a united front in Yemen’s 1994 civil war and forming a coalition government from 1994 to 1997. After Islah split with the GPC during the 1997 parliamentary elections, it helped orchestrate an alliance of opposition parties called the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). Existing divides between the GPC and Islah deepened during the 2006 presidential elections, and in 2011, despite initial hesitation, Islah joined Yemen’s political uprising, playing a central role in the ousting of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.