Political Analysis

A revolution worth fighting for…and remembering

National Yemen

Dr. AbdulAziz Al-Makaleh

By: Aref Abdullah Al-Selmi

It’s an anniversary for all Yemenis, the anniversary of day on which our homeland gained independence from foreign occupiers. On the occasion of the anniversary, the National Yemen has spoken with individuals who span the Yemeni social spectrum – from professors and activists to actors and specialists – to learn more about the 14th of October Revolution, and its relation to the 26th of September Revolution.

Abdualaziz Al-Maqaleh, the head of the Yemeni Research and Studies Center and one of Yemen’s greatest poets, said that “both the 26th of September and 14th of October revolutions have succeeded in spite of all challenges and trends. They have liberated the north from despotism, slavery, and dictatorship and the south from foreign occupation with all its accompaniments, petty states and sheikhdoms. The relation between the two revolutions is as the relation between the soul and body. The 14th of October Revolution was connected with the 26th of September Revolution. The two revolutions were united efforts against despotism, dictatorship and foreign occupation.

 “For historical reasons and because of political complications, the Yemeni revolutions passed through two stages; the first aimed at terminating the dictatorship of the individual and changed the nature of the regime from monarchy to constitutional republic. The second revolution eliminated occupation,” Al-Maqaleh added.

Journalist and broadcaster Ali Hameed Kasim says he believes the aims of some Yemeni revolutions were not truly achieved; he said, “Actually, this is the fourth event which we’re celebrating. I personally consider the 14th of October Revolution to be one of the best anniversaries; maybe this anniversary is better than the religious ones. This day is ever-lasting in the memories of liberal Yemenis, a day in which joy is drawn upon their hearts. Unfortunately, the 14th of October Revolution was stolen by those who sing for it without any adherence to its principles. This revolution was the real beginning of liberation in Yemen.

“The Yemeni revolutions are being stolen by Sheikhs and some influential persons for their own interests. Even though I belong to the north, I notice that the 26th of September Revolution has high-level celebrations and media coverage for its achievements – this is in contrast with the 14th of October Revolution, which is mostly marginalized, along with its achievements. “I hope that President Hadi, as he is from the south, will be able to deal equally between the north and south.”

Kasim concluded by saying, “I consider the popular youth peaceful revolution of 2011 to be an extension of previous Yemeni revolutions. I want to say to the 14th of October revolutionaries that you are still alive in the hearts of all Yemenis; you will continue to live on, and the goals of your revolution – even if they weren’t achieved on 14th of October and in the next revolutions – will be achieved in the present youth peaceful revolution.”

Dr. Abdulrahman Farhan, professor of Management Information Systems (M.I.S) at Sana’a University’s faculty of commerce, said, “We can’t talk about the revolution of 14th of October, 1963 in isolation and without mentioning the 26th of September revolution. The 26th of September Revolution paved the way and inspired revolutionaries to count down towards an effort to rid Yemeni lands of British occupation. I’m here to confirm that the two revolutions are connected by the people and the land; no one can claim that the 26th of September Revolution was the revolution of the north and the 14th of October the revolution of the south; all the Yemeni have united together to achieve one goal, without distinctions or discrimination.”

Dr. Farhan indicated to the calls of separation, “few people in the south want to repeat historical mistakes through calling for separation and showing off their nationalism; what kind of nationalism do they have when they are calling for secession, turning the wheel of time backwards and describing the northern people as occupiers? It was expected that Yemeni unity could be achieved after the British occupation left the south, but unfortunately political powers at that time preferred to enforce the division of Yemen into two parts. In an unusual case of paradox that utilized both comedy and tragedy, after taking down the British flag and saying farewell to the last British soldier, Yemen became two independent countries with two dignities, governments, flags and national anthems. Each – north and south – one has its own embassies, each with armies being armed to fight the other!”

Khalid Al-Sabae, Secretary General of the Revolutionary Committee and a pioneer at Yemen’s Change Squares, described the 14th of October Revolution as “the revolution which embodied the ambitions and hopes of the Yemeni people in the south. They sought to take out the coercive colonist, and now we’re occupied by American forces, which occupy the capital Sana’a and who received approval to do so by the current regime, which was created by the Gulf oil countries and the U.S.A. Unfortunately, the 26th of September and 14th of October revolutions lost their way because of political agents. The Yemeni people are being taken advantage of because of their kindness. The illiterate powers which rule the country have deviated from the track of the two revolutions and want to do so with the popular youth revolution in order to put themselves in the custody of the Gulf countries and Washington. In spite of all the sacrifices made during the Yemeni revolutions, the ruler remains the same. Al-Sabae concluded by saying, “Achieving the goals of revolutions should be carried out solely by way of self-dependence and a utilization of the treasures of the land… and not through begging from other countries.”

The 14th of October Revolution also had an impact on the arts – and especially among actors and actresses. Yemeni actress Amani Al-Dhamari expressed her joy on this anniversary by saying, “This is represents the greatest day in the life of our homeland, when the people of Yemen got rid of the British occupation on the 14th of October, 1963. I don’t know about the historical facts, but I know that this anniversary is a significant one in the history of Yemen, as it commemorates the day which later opened the way for Yemeni unification.

Hanan Al-Aghbari, who holds a master’s degree in modern and contemporary history, said, “The 14th of October Revolution of 1963 was tied in with the 26th of September Revolution in 1962, which erupted in the north. This revolution had a positive impact on the south, which was then able to get rid of the western nightmare that is colonization, which began in 1839 and continued until 1967, for a period of around 120 years.

Regarding the relationship between the two revolutions, Al-Aghbari said, “Actually, the 26th of September revolution started in 1948; the special relationship between the two Yemeni revolutions came because there were so many opponents to Imamate rule in the north who moved to Aden to activate their opposition against the monarchy; thus the relationship was borne of those factors, and was due to the nearness of Taiz. After that, the 26th of September Revolution broke out in the north, and then the 14th of October Revolution. At that time, Yemen began to be recognized by other countries as an important land geographically speaking, and South Yemen joined the United Nations Security Council and Arab league.”

“Unfortunately, educated people are not as informed when it comes to comparing the 14th of October Revolution with the 26th of September Revolution. It may be because Yemeni governments have failed to shed light on the revolution, perhaps because conflicts continued to arise in the south after the 14th of October Revolution. Yet the best characteristic of this revolution was popular participation from all Yemeni governorates in the struggle for liberation,” concluded Al-Aghbari.