Yemen: Down with the Price Hikes! For a “Second Revolution” to Establish a Workers and Fallahin Government!

Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency(RCIT), 3.9.2014, www.thecommunists.net

 

1.            The Yemeni government has abolished fuel subsidies causing an increase in fuel prices by 60% to 90%. As a result, living costs for food and other basic necessities will increase significantly. This is a brutal attack on the working people of the poorest country in the Arab world. Even before these latest increases, half of the population of Yemen was officially living in poverty.

2.            The Yemeni masses have reacted with shock and anger to this social barbarity. Since August 20, tens and hundreds of thousands of people have repeatedly marched through the streets of Sana'a demanding that fuel subsidies be reinstated and that the government resign. Activists have set up two makeshift protest camps in the north and south of the city. The protests are being organized by the Houthi movement – a petty-bourgeois movement based on the large Shia minority (about 35% of the population) which has traditionally been discriminated against. The Houthi leader, Abdulmalek al-Houthi, has handed Yemen’s president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, an ultimatum to meet the protesters' demands lest "other steps" be taken. Indeed, in the end the president was forced to dismiss his government on September 2. He also proposed a national unity administration and suggested reinstating fuel subsidies. Without doubt, a pre-revolutionary situation has begun in Yemen.

3.            The price hikes demonstrate the thoroughly bourgeois nature of the government dominated by the bourgeois Islah party which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. The government is implementing the dictates of the International Monetary Fund as well as of the reactionary regime of Saudi Arabia. Both have demanded subsidy cuts in exchange for loans of $560 million (from the IMF) and $2 billion (from Saudi Arabia).

4.            What we see in Yemen is similar to what has happened in many other countries. The monopolies which dominate the world economy – the big corporations and the global financial institutions – are putting pressure on the semi-colonial countries of the South. The monopolies are enriching themselves by demanding high interest payments for loans and the granting of licenses to them so that they can exploit the country’s natural resources. Usually, these monopolies can rely on the capitalist, bourgeois lackey governments of these nations to comply with such demands. In exchange for their services, these governmental agents of the imperialists are granted exorbitant benefits for themselves which, through corruption, ensure a life of luxury for themselves and their families.

5.            The unpopular policy of the Islah government demonstrates, once again, the unfinished nature of the revolution of 2011. In that year, the workers and fallahin heroically rose up against the pro-imperialist dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who initially was the brutal ruler of North Yemen from 1978 and who, in 1990, subsequently united the two Yemens. In 2011, the demonstrators occupied central locales in the city, and battled the regime’s reactionary goons. Finally, they succeeded in forcing Saleh to resign. But instead of carrying out a top-to-bottom revolution, the main institutions of the old regime remained in power, and Saleh’s deputy Hadi became the new president. As a result, the hopes of the masses were betrayed.

6.            This is why many people are justifiably demonstrating against the government and calling for a “second revolution.” And indeed, this is what the popular masses in Yemen need! But to achieve this they must learn the lessons from the unfinished revolution of 2011. The revolution must not be satisfied with simply replacing individuals at the top of the state apparatus. Rather, they must orient themselves to founding new, popular, council-based democratic organs to replace the old dictatorial state apparatus which remains fertile ground for corruption and abuses. Such councils should be based on regular assemblies of the workers in their places of employment and of the popular masses in their neighborhoods and villages, in which they can discuss and vote on the most urgent issues facing their society. These assemblies should elect delegates who will then form city, village, and regional councils. Ultimately, out of such direct, democratic organs a government should be elected. All delegates – including the elected government – must be accountable to and recallable by the regular grass root meetings. Such a government could never act against the people, since it would immediately be voted out of power. Such a Worker’s and Fallahin government would rely not on the old and corrupt army but on the armed power of popular militias. Such a government would break Yemen’s dependency of the imperialist monopolies, and would nationalize the key sectors of the economy under workers’ control.

7.            At the moment, the most urgent task is to build a broad-based mass movement led by the working class. Such a movement must avoid any divisions on the basis of religion. Sunni and Shia workers and fallahin must unite on the basis of respect and tolerance for each others’ beliefs and culture. The movement must be based, no less, on the principle of solidarity with all minorities. In order to avoid the protests’ being sold out, it is vital that the masses hold regular meetings – for example, in the two currently existing protest camps as well as in workplaces and neighborhoods. Decisions about the next steps in the struggle against the government must not be made by a few unelected leaders, but by mass popular assemblies like these. In addition, from such assemblies, the workers and fallahin should form popular self-defense groups to fight against attacks by the police. The central goal should be to overthrow the entire regime and to establish a Workers’ and Fallahin government.

8.            Most importantly, the workers need a new party which is independent of capitalists, imperialist institutions, and bourgeois parties. Such a party should be based on the working class and should fight for a socialist revolution. It should orientate itself to unite the struggle with those of workers and the oppressed in other countries – from Palestine and Egypt, to Brazil, China, Greece, and the USA. To do this, this party must be part of the Fifth Workers’ International. This is what the RCIT is fighting for.

* For the immediate revoking of all price hikes! Down with President Hadi and the Islah government!

* For the founding of popular mass assemblies to democratically lead the protest movement!

* For a mass movement which unites Sunni and Shia workers and fellahin, one which is based on solidarity and respect for all groups!

* For a Workers’ and Fallahin government defended by popular militias which will expropriate the foreign corporations and the rich domestic capitalists! For the nationalization of the key industries and banks under workers’ control!

* For solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle! Defend Gaza – Defeat Israel!

* Down with the reactionary military dictatorship of General al-Sisi in Egypt!

* Down with the reactionary monarchy of Saudi Arabia!

* Renew and extend the Arab Revolution which started in 2011!

* For a united, socialist Yemen as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East!

* Onward to the building of a revolutionary workers’ party as part of a Fifth International!