Political Analysis

Special report: will Ali Abdullah Saleh return to rule Yemen?

National Yemen

Pro Saleh demands his return to power

Abdo Ayesh
Will the Yemeni Ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh come back to rule Yemen? The question repeats itself among Yemenis and in the media. It carries within it the echoes of a “counter-revolution” undoing the revolution that toppled Saleh.
The most complex aspect of Saleh’s rumored return is that the  General People Congress (JPC), which is still headed by Saleh, insists that it has the right to participate in the coming presidential election. Its leaders emphasize that Gulf Initiative decided to leave Saleh with some authority and not end his political life.
One strange point is the actions of Qatar and the countries that supported the departure of Saleh from authority. Today, they are supporting his return to power in Yemen, according to Saleh’s media advisor Ahmed al-Sofi.
The failure of revolutions:
In an interview with Yemen Nation, al-Sofi said that Saleh has performed the process of handing over his authority, and that by the end of the transitional period people should choose the person who governs the country. In this process, all parties have access to this authority.
Al-Sofi pointed out that recent changes in circumstances make Saleh’s return more expected. The former Emir of Qatar has stepped down, ceding power to his son Sheikh Tamim. America has changed its position on Iran, which will lead to a change in the main players in the events of the Arab region and the world at large.
“I think the Arab Spring has failed, as have the Muslim Brotherhood groups, in state administration in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. This leads the region to think again on the Arab national project, and how to protect states from disintegration and chaos,” Al-Sofi said.
Regarding the conditions announced by the Good Governance working group of the National Dialogue Conference on preventing the return of Saleh or his associates to power, al-Sofi feels they have no basis. These conditions insist on the removal of Saleh from the political scene, which was not stipulated in the Gulf Initiative Agreement. Besides, these conditions are just trying to achieve what the youths tried to achieve on the streets in 2012
Impossible return
In a special interview with Yemen Nation, Minister of Legal Affairs Dr. Mohammed al-Mikhlafi said that the process of transferring power has no end, but with the coming presidential and parliamentary elections, this process will come to an end. At that point, Saleh will be unable to return to authority.
Al-Mikhlafi pointed out to the announcement of the Good Governance working group of the NDC on a proposed Article in the Constitution including 15 conditions for the new presidency of the republic, the government, the parliament and Shura parties, all of which would prevent Saleh’s return to power.
The most important two conditions,that a candidate for the presidency first must not have served two terms as president, party leader, or parliamentary president or cabinet member, and second that they must have left any military or security institution at least ten years prior.
al-Mikhlafi Minister also said that Saleh has received “Immunity” from prosecution, meaning he and his supporters are forgiven for their actions during the transfer or authority. If Saleh returns to politics, this Immunity will be canceled, and desire for revenge will also return.
al-Mikhlafi said that Saleh’s desire to return to the presidency should be ended. The political parties of the Popular Congress Party headed by Saleh must make their decision: do they want be a part of future, or do their desires for the past still control them?
Family Dreams
On this issue, Director of the Nashwan Humairi Center for Studies in Sana’a, Adel al-Ahmadi, considers all of Al-Sufi’s statements as insufficient proof of Saleh’s return the power. In an interview with Yemen Nation, al-Ahmadi said that Saleh’s health doesn’t encourage people around him to elect him to the power, but they may instead seek to elect his son or someone else from his party.
He added that Saleh’s rule in the last ten years was a family project, but now it is a project of a broader group.  They can achieve victory in the selection of any of their members, whether Saleh or otherwise.
From the point of view of al-Ahmadi, Al-Sufi’s statements are a result of the talks about canceling Saleh’s immunity. In fact, Yemen’s current events are creating an even further gap between Saleh and power.
Al-Ahmadi emphasized that the problem in Yemen isn’t the return of the former regime, but rather is born of the conditions of the current system, and similarly in supporting changes in the form of state with unclear results. These changes give Saleh’s party a new playing field on which to vie for influence. They will not turn away when refused, so the powers inside and outside Yemen should be careful with the issue of political succession in Yemen.