"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Monday, February 14, 2011

JMP Barely Riding the Tiger

One of the biggest questions lingering underneath the "Will Yemen go the way of Egypt and Tunisia" umbrella is the role the opposition, namely the Joint Meetings Party, will play.  The JMP (a combination of several parties, notably the Islamic party, Islah, and the Socialists)* organized the original protests a couple of weeks ago, the threat of which forced Salih to make some sizable concessions.    This seemed like a good step for many involved- it looked like it brought Salih some breathing room.

But the overthrowing of Mubarak is his nightmare.  It is one thing to rattle an autocrat; it is another altogether to depose him.   Yemenis who want Salih gone- and this is not all of them, of course, something which needs to be said- see a light in the tunnel.   So then: will the JMP be able to harness this?  It doesn't look like it.  Being a strange amalgamation, they don't have particularly strong leadership.  Greg has some more thoughts on this.  

But if the pattern follows like it did in Egypt, the political parties will at best try to fasten themselves on the back of the protestors.  Right now the demonstrations seem to exist in a political limbo- the JMP is giving their blessing, but it is a reactive one.  This is far more spontaneous.   Read this statement and this update from Arabist.net for a look at how things are spreading.

I think this will very quickly get out of the hands of the JMP, which is something I think Salih is deeply worried about.  When they were the ones organizing things, they represented someone with whom he could deal.  After all, they also had a stake in the system.  If they are bucked, all bets are off, as far as he is concerned.

But, then again, maybe the art fair tactic will change the dynamic.  It's like I have always said: arts and crafts ruin everything.

*As there have been more readers lately, and as I hope there will be more eyes if things heat up, I am going to sometimes explain things that regular readers and other Yemen-watchers know by shorthand.


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