- Anwar Al-Ansi
- BBC – London
In more than four volumes of his lavish memoir book, Abd al-Rahman al-Eryani, the former Yemeni president, amasses an encyclopedia of photographs of his correspondence and papers documenting a time that was the most important in the history of the Arab region during the past century, and he was one of its major symbols and makers of its important events.
And among the folds of books and studies devoted by many Arab and foreign historians and researchers, and companions and students of his journey in which they dealt with his biography, there was another section of documents that his memoirs did not fit into, or that he did not possess copies of them that contain a great deal of historical importance as well.
He was the “judge” and this is the term that everyone agreed upon to describe Al-Eryani, a metaphor for a rich and sublime culture in various human sciences that gathered in his person.
He was the only one among the middle-aged figures of that century who changed their positions into a story that made their history an intimate part of that history that is almost untold until their lives are told with it, and the most attentive and surprising are the qualities of the man who knew the (value) of patience when patience improved, And (wisdom) determination, where he has no determination.
When I went one day in the month of May 1999 to a house in the Damascus neighborhood of Abu Rummaneh to meet Al-Eryani, the goal was to conduct a televised interview on which many had high hopes to hear the final say from him about a dispute that broke out over the constitution of the Yemeni unity state that emerged in 1990 in what If (Islam) will be the only source of legislation or one of its sources, given that this venerable scholar was the most prominent person who supervised the drafting of the texts of that constitution.
Instead of twenty minutes to meet with the wise president, the meeting lasted for more than three hours, during which the man took off his headdress, turban and “toza”, which is the aesthetic weapon of the country’s scholars, and took me with the elegance of its essence and appearance to a varied lunch between history, literature and politics, untidy for it.
That was the best opportunity I had in my journalistic life to ask the questions that kept preoccupying my mind, and to dig into the files of this “exceptional” man’s memory on other matters other than those for which I went to him, and he answered most of my questions at that time, and promised me to respond to some of them in a book His memoirs, of which only two parts have not yet been issued, while preparations are underway to issue two other parts, respectively.
Return to life from under the edge of the sword
Al-Eryani was not only a man of a special kind, but coincidences also may have made him seem to be privileged in that, as his political life began as it ended, with an interconnected series of paradoxes that did not happen in its succession, synchronization and consistency with a man like him, so whenever he tried to go to a quiet life, a wave attacked It is full of events to raise it high and bring it to its climax.
After months of waiting for the voice of the caller to the prisoners of politics, diligence and opinion in one of the prisons of the late Imam of Yemen, Ahmed Hamid al-Din, the judge had written his wills several times. Whenever he prepares to go out in preparation for ablution and to pray two rak’ahs before death, rejoicing at the final go to the execution square after the Friday prayer, perhaps hoping to be saved by death from the torments of exhausting, almost deadly anticipation, he is told every time “Wait!”
The judge also mentions in his memoirs that some of his relatives had offered to pray to (the imam of the country) by all means, including bribing the guards of his poor prison, while his friend, the scholar Muhammad Yahya al-Dhari, had thrown himself into the hands of the Imam as an “intercession to preserve the life of a scholar of the nation’s scholars.”
After those months, he was called out to meet his death after the Friday prayer, which is the preferred time for “the Commander of the Faithful to see the skulls of his rivals for power rolling in their blood,” as mentioned by a relative of the imam himself.
Al-Eryani went out, according to the most reliable accounts of her, raping the smile to provoke the shrewd “tyrant” who immediately ordered the sword to return his sword to his sheath, so that Al-Eryani would be deprived of the symbolism of martyrdom, smiling in the face of death.
Al-Eryani in the “Supreme Sharia Court”
Then a different kind of paradox occurred when the imam’s order came to appoint al-Eryani at the highest “legitimate authority” to increase the latter’s conviction that the imam is nothing more than a “political creature” who works with cunning and rare intelligence to exploit the (meaning) that a person represents in the public perception, in order to serve His political project is nothing but.
By the way, Imam Ahmad, who had reached his shrewdness in ruling, was to place the most important levers of government administration in the hands of the gossipers from among the common people, who had no (realistic) possibility in the Zaidi school of imams or at the head of the rule confined to the family of the family of the Messenger of Islam, he excluded many of the sons of This dynasty that aspires to the imamate and authority, and the matter reached the point where (Imam Ahmad Al-Nasir for the religion of God) ordered to hit the neck of his brothers Abdullah and Abbas with the edge of the sword, while some accounts say that his brother Saif al-Haq Ibrahim died poisoned in his prison, as part of a wave of executions that Al-Eryani survived As his memoirs indicated in detail, the revolutions followed the failure of 1948 and 1955, all of which took place without trial.
From exile to the top
Al-Eryani was perhaps one of the few leaders in history to get out of his siege and return from his exile to the presidency of the state in his country with the help of the authorities of the same regime in which he was imprisoned.
Al-Eryani was the only Yemeni politician who excluded the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser from prison when the Egyptian leadership decided to lure the leaders of the Yemeni opposition to visit Cairo, and then put them in prison due to their rejection of the interference of some Egyptian military leaders in the political affairs of Yemen during the 1960s.
At the time, Al-Eryani was lowered into a house acceptable for his house arrest, and he was allowed to go with the guards of his house to perform prayers every Friday, while his other companions were placed in a number of impregnable prisons such as the military prison, and they were treated with extreme cruelty, as indicated by his colleague (Professor) Ahmed Muhammad al-Nu’man.
The following paradox came after the famous Khartoum conference after the setback in June 1967 when the two Arab leaders of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Saudi Faisal bin Abdulaziz, reached at the home of the Sudanese Prime Minister Muhammad Ahmad Mahjoub, to settle their dispute on the Yemeni arena, according to which the late Yemeni President Abdullah Al-Sallal, who was on a visit, was dismissed. To Baghdad and Al-Eryani’s return by a private Egyptian plane to Hodeidah airport on November 5 of the same year, to become, after three weeks, by general national consensus (Chairman of the Republican Council) the highest authority in the state.
Al-Eryani and Al-Faisal
Another paradox was chosen by fate as well, in two years close to 1965 and 1967 came the arrival of two contradictory men to power in the two neighboring countries, Republican Yemen, which has its roots in history and the rising oil monarchy of Saudi Arabia, who are in turn intertwined in complex and thorny geo-political relations.
Al-Eryani is the keeper of the Qur’an and he studied the heavenly messages with knowledge and understanding before unseen, as a means of dialogue, and Faisal .. Al-Faisal as his father thought him and was certain of it in himself, cutting with his father’s sword the head of “everyone who violates the religion and belief” as he used to believe.
Perhaps the attentive researcher, Lotfi al-Nu’man, was successful in choosing a picture that brings together the two men in the cover of his book (The Two Meet), but the title of his topic may not be with the same accuracy .. Hassan Al-Nuaman, after listing the two leaders’ common characteristics, made a comment on a photograph in which Faisal appeared gifting Al-Eryani a sword, he considered Al-Numan said that Faisal wanted Al-Eryani to carry “the best tool to solve what requires the edge of the sword, and here is what highlights the difference between their approaches and their personalities … between the warrior and the interlocutor, and between the firm and the world.”
Al-Numan adds: “Al-Eryani was strong in carrying the sword, but he was not able to (amputate) with it. As for Faisal, he does not weaken or soften when he is certain of the merit of amputation.”
The paradox of understanding with opposites
There was a paradox, no less strange and difficult, in al-Eryani’s dealings with a rich (reactionary) Arab neighbor in Riyadh from the perspective of a left-wing (extremist) Yemeni brother in Aden from the point of view of neighbors in the north, and at the same time there was a profound influence and extensions inside the Yemeni interior of (Hezbollah) The Arab Socialist Resurgence), both Iraqi and Syrian, and all this in light of the intensification of international polarization during the Cold War on the edges of the Yemeni scene between the eastern camps led by the Soviet Union and the Western ones led by the United States of America.
Al-Eryani ultimately paid the price of his inability as a human being to take the risks and pressure of dealing with all those opposing forces and conflicting parties to no end. He felt as he said that his vessel was full enough and that others had to bring another vessel.
The strangest ironies
It did not happen to a leader in Arab history, at least, that his rule was overthrown by a warm and influential official farewell like what happened to Al-Eryani after nearly seven years of his presidency, as senior statesmen gathered, civilians and military, to bid him farewell at Taiz airport on June 18, 1974, five days after the coup. on him.
The corresponding irony was that he was the first isolated president in history also to receive a special official reception by the head of the country to which he was voluntarily exiled, when the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad was at the head of his future at Damascus airport on that day as well.
The man lived his best opponent of choice in the capital Damascus and before it in the coastal governorate of Tartus from which the Assad family descended and the resort of “Slanfah” in the Syrian countryside of Lattakia during a significant number of junctures in a man’s political life even before his resignation, as Syrias preference was a place for his breaks to abstain from practicing His presidential duties during a number of political crises.
After his resignation, he received an invitation from the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to reside in Egypt, but he decided to stay in this country to stay away from Egypt because of its permanent hosting of Yemen’s tumultuous political community with the parties of power and the opposition together since the 1950s until today, even years after his departure.