The Washington Center for Yemeni Studies held a virtual dialogue on Thursday, August 23, 2021, entitled “The 26th September Revolution, a turning point in the lives of Yemenis.”
The symposium discussed the struggle of the Yemeni people throughout the country for freedom and dignity, to resist oppression and tyranny, and to restore their republican state.
1- Dr. J. Peterson – Historian and Political Analyst specializing in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf.
2- Nadwa Al-Dosari – Researcher in the field of conflict and peacebuilding. A non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
3- Dr. Asher Orkaby – an Associate Researcher at the Institute for Transregional Studies of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia at Princeton University.
The seminar was moderated by Hossam Kaid, Research and Outreach Officer at the Center.
Mr. J Peterson introduced the results of the great Revolution in 1962, which overthrew the traditional reactionary form of Imamate government and forged a new era by entering the republic. The Revolution created new citizenship, improved living standards, and built a state of law and equality.
Peterson believes that the eight-year war that followed the Revolution reduced its impact during that period, and the government that came after suffered many economic obstacles because of the legacy left by the Imam’s rule of poverty, ignorance, lack of educational opportunities, and the halt of economic and social development. Yemen joined the international community and broke the isolation imposed on it during the Imamat rule, that advancement faded with the military rule, the spread of corruption and the hegemony of unity, and the abolition of the other
Peterson compared the past conflict between the Republicans, the Royalists, and external supporters, stressing that currently, the situation is more complicated due to the presence of other local parties in the conflict. He stressed that the best representatives of Yemen are the youth who forced Saleh to resign and called for their participation in the negotiations for a political settlement.
Al-Dosari delved deeper into the Revolution, which she called a magical revolution that eliminated Imamate rule, and the Revolution was a haven for North and South Yemen. “Tyranny was replaced by another tyranny, which began by seizing power and marginalizing the people.” she said about the regime of Ali Saleh. AL Dosari referred to the role of Ali Saleh in allowing the Houthis to enter Sanaa, which enabled the latter to carry out a coup in 2014, and undermined the Yemeni state and government institutions. She said that the coup impaired all features and goals of the September 26 Revolution, which began with controlling the state and changing educational curricula. The Houthi group was described as a group that does not believe in democracy but rather as a model for the religious state cloned from Iran.
Speaking about the Yemeni legitimacy that the Yemeni people accepted after the February revolution, Al-Dosari said, It is surprising for a government to lead a war, while outside the country while its leaders and their families live in luxury. She saw this as a reason for not resolving the conflict. Al-Dosari did not lose sight of the Saudi-Emirati role in this failure, the divergence of agendas, and the mixing of interests among the coalition countries.
Al Dosari concluded by saying that the Yemeni people have always made the mistake of rotating those who rule them. After the Imamate was overthrown, the people accepted the incursion of its remnants into the state. After the ousting of former President Ali Saleh, the people forgave him, which gave him a “green light” to help the Houthi movement. Al Dosari regretted that a good alternative does not exist, as the people deserve a better model for their rule after sacrifices that lasted for sixty years since the outbreak of the September revolution.
Asher Orkabi pointed out that the September revolution was a pure Yemeni revolution, and it is unfair to describe it as Yemeni-Egyptian, as some do. He emphasized that Yemenis chose the identity of their Revolution.
Asher said that the Revolution came to lead the Yemenis and created a new system and conditions that aligned with the goals of the Revolution and the promises made by the revolutionaries to the people, which were the most difficult to transcend the transitional phase and the extent of their ability to maneuver politically.
According to Orkabi, the most prominent obstacle to the September 26 Revolution was the counter-revolution that Al-Badr tried to lead from his exile in Saudi Arabia, which took advantage of the conflict between the leaders of the Revolution. Asher concluded his speech by saying that returning the glow of September needs a new generation like the Revolutionary Fourty, an emerging generation that will redefine the Revolution.