July 17, coincided with the 34th anniversary of the takeover of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Power in northern Yemen, in 1978. It was an important date in modern Yemeni history, due to the then fears of the collapse of the state into chaos.
Saleh came to power in difficult situations, after the assassination of the two presidents Ibrahim al-Hamdi (October 11, 1977,) and Ahmed al-Ghasmi (June 24 1987.) The latter was killed with a booby suitcase sent by the leadership of the Southern Yemen. It led to armed conflicts between the two parts in which the northern part was defeated, and had it not been to the Arab interference, (February 1979,) the southern forces would have controlled northern Yemen.
Saleh hurried after the war to sign a new unification agreement between the two parts, sponsored by Kuwait in March of the same year.
Although Saleh managed at the first three years of his rule to pull out the independence of the national decision for a long time, however the policies of his last years in power, led him to mortgage it again. This resulted in his overthrow from power through American- Saudi pressure in response to the popular peaceful revolution which broke out against him and to spare the Yemenis the prospects of civil war.
Saleh was not in the cultural, intellectual and educational levels of his three predecessors who ruled Yemen from 1962 to 1977. They are Field Marshal Abdullah al-Salal, Judge Abdurrahman al-Iriani and Colonel Ibrahim al-Hamdi. He cannot even be compared with those who ruled the south since its independence until unity. However he had ruled alone double the period of them all.
This was not for his being more qualified than them, however he was cleverer than them in the knowledge of places of strength and those who he is to hand it over to them and benefit from it.
His rule has avoided coup attempts against him except one which happened in the first three months of his coming to power. He exploited the public wealth, public jobs and the state facilities for acquiring and neutralization of the opposition and the tribal leaders who differed with his predecessors. He even won some of them to his side.
He was famous for his patience tolerance and achieving his goals slowly. He managed to tame many of the political forces.
As the Islamists were suffering oppression in most of the Arab countries, he attracted them to his side, and exploited them in crushing the leftist armed movements in his first four years of rule. Then he allowed the Islamists and leftists to issue moderate journals that express their views despite the overt constitutional ban to parties then.
The man grabbed all state powers in his hands, which include the army and the public money. He used them to substitute the deficiency that he suffered all through his rule, in terms of his lack of vision for institutional building.
This didn't hinder him from accomplishing some achievements during the twelve years in which he ruled northern Yemen before unity. They include political achievements which are realized in the political stability and independence of national decision. He succeeded in achieving certain level of national political harmony, returning the exiled Yemeni leaders and ending the long transitional period by returning to the constitution of 1988.
He worked for returning unity with the leaders of the Socialist party, particularly with its General Secretary Ali Salem al-Bydh. They also include development achievements such as oil exploration, rebuilding Marib Dam on the expense of late Sheikh Zaid Bin Sultan and benefiting from the expatriates' revenues for creating development rising in some fields.
He was not engaged in politics before unity, which he sunk up to the brim into it after unity. This was the cause of the spread of chaos, corruption, favoritism as well as the revival of tribalism, regionalism, sectarianism, with the lack of a the criteria of the rule of law in his culture and mind.
He used to say that he has no desire of adopting the multi-party system which is imposed on him by the socialist party as a condition for unity. The Islah party also forced him to continue it after the 1994 war, when they refused fusion with his General People' Congress for returning to the one party system without strong opposition.
His full engagement in politics continued along all the seven years that followed unity, until he succeeded in removing his two main partners, the Socialist and Islah parties. He remained engaged in politics, maintaining his uniqueness in this respect. He later on started building his family project to guarantee his continuation in power for the longest time and then pass it to his son.
From the deep study of Saleh position, I imagine that Saleh didn't want to pass power to his son during his life time. He was thinking of continuing to rule until his death, and afterwards if his family succeeded in grabbing power, that would be good or at that time he is not bothering himself with it because he will not be alive then.
The multi party system and press freedom which are imposed on him remained to be a lump in his throat. They drove him to be more savage in addition to the personal criticism against him. It increased his skepticism on all who are around him in addition to the spread of anarchy that he couldn't face.
The more he continued in power, he used to get rid of his strong men, replacing them with weaker ones who cannot have power ambitions. By so doing Saleh used to be writing the last stages of his power with his own hands, without knowing what he was doing.
Now Saleh is out of power, having no legal decision making, despite all the propaganda, which he had spent a great deal on it, to prove that he is still the strongest man in Yemen, in a desperate attempt to keep the remainder of his followers intact.
Now that the July 17 had passed in Yemen for the first time without the presence of Saleh in power. One wishes that he stands honestly with himself to evaluate why his first ten years in power were among his best records as well as considering why the last ten years of his rule were the worst. He is alone able to evaluate that if he is true to himself.