Political Analysis

Yemeni Liberal Party discusses dangers of sectarianism

National Yemen

Political sectarian character painting

By NY Staff

The Yemeni Liberal Party recently organized a symposium entitled “The Effect of Political Sectarianism on National Unity.” Symposium participants stated that current political sectarianism in Yemen will have devastating results in the future. According to them, sectarianism is driving the country towards danger when it comes to the nation’s political, economic, social, and cultural realities. “

“Sectarianism is dragging the country towards a future of smaller sectarian states which – through history – have proved themselves to be bloody,” said a participant in the symposium.

Participants said they felt that continued political sectarianism would result in the loss of concepts of equal citizenship and people’s ability to identify themselves as individuals.

“Sectarianism also introduces notions to the scene such as the sharing of posts and governmental jobs and bigotry; it negatively and directly affects the educational process and helps to consolidate tribal influence on society,” said a participant.

Symposium members stated that the causes of the phenomenon could be found widespread poverty and in Islamic problems, as represented by conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. Other problems cited included a fragile homogeneous national culture and the absence of educated men, who, they said, were replaced by politically-educated individuals.

They said continued sectarianism in Yemen’s political landscape would undoubtedly result in the creation of a fragile government unable to function either institutionally or representatively, and also unable to govern the country’s institutions.

They added that it also would result in a backward of economic situation, with a particularly detrimental effect on agriculture and industry, areas where development matters a great deal. Participants said a continuation of the current state of affairs would lead to the formation of armed militias and groups bent on spreading terror and fear and able to carry out killings and kidnapping operations which, consequently, foil attempts at improving the nation’s political processes. In addition, all concerned parties – including the JMP and GPC – were criticized for their dealings with Houthis.

According to the symposium participants, political sectarianism leads to a one-way road which cancels the opposing direction, not admitting anything but itself.

“It also spread the philosophy of justifying whatever is in their interests, which can be seen in the taking of revenge against enemies, which serves to hinder institutional and democratic efforts such as the peaceful transition of power,” said a participant. “No matter what notions are adopted, religion can be used to cover all its actions control various forms of authority.”

It was added that sectarianism can serve to protect corruption, as followers are defended and put beyond the law.

Participants took a historical view of sectarian conflict in Yemen, as well its consequences, and asserted that solutions lie in separating religious sectarianism and political work, shifting the conflict from a sectarian-religious type to one of civil conflict – forcing all powers and sectarian parties to abandon their weapons, make concessions to each other and present their projects to help promote their country.

Participants stressed the importance of performing field studies and research into causes and effects, with a focus on cultural education. A positive emphasis was placed on allowing the youth to attend various educational institutions.

“We need to eliminate a large part of our Islamic heritage, which encourages hatred and the circumventing of national civil projects, and develop a clear vision of how we can grant full freedoms to people,” said a participant.

Those in attendance also stressed the importance of having credibility when holding a national dialogue, if people are to regard it as the basis for the establishment of a country where everyone is equal.

Last week, the Yemeni Liberal Party also organized a symposium entitled “Causes and Consequences of New Political Sectarianism.”