The Third Force's Role in Yemen's Peacemaking and Achieving National Reconciliation (1964-1970)

By Zaid Alwazir
Submitted to Session P5057 (The Birth of Modern Yemen: Internal Views of the 1960s Civil War, 2018 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
19th-21st Centuries;
The civil war in Yemen between the Republicans, supported by Egypt’s Nasserite forces, and the Royalists, funded by Saudi Arabia, reached a bloody dead end. The Union of Popular Forces (UPF) party held a massive rally in Tahrir Square in Sana’a in November 1963 calling for a peaceful conclusion to the stalemated war. That period witnessed the naissance of The Third Force - under UPF auspices – with its slogan: "The dark past does not return, the bloody present does not remain, and the future is decided by the people.”
There were several factors that created a complex murky climate in which the "Republic" was born, hence the difficulty faced by UPF in its attempt to achieve peace. The cloudy political vision was the dominant climate at that time and it was haunted by military coup d’états. The Nasserite glamor had an effect of moving away from civil constitutions and embracing military solutions with the rule of force and subjugation. As the "Nasserite" intervention was connected with the birth of the “Republic” a military system was established that soon enough was infused with tribalism hence the political climate became darker.
Modern concepts of "socialism,” "Baathism," and "nationalism" - brought into the country and applied to a different situation - were not able to crystallize their principles for several reasons and were left in the dark. Further, the conflict between the city and the rural areas, the civil and the tribal, the tense relations between the tribes and the army, and the political contradictions between the Shafi'i and Zaydi doctrines about the necessity of revolution against oppressive rulers and the non-obligation of obedience had all been factors in deepening these complexities. External interference stoked further the situation pushing it toward bloodshed. Had not been for the peace efforts of the UPF and The Third Force - that bloody path would have continued.
The Third Force managed to convene "republican" and “royalist” leaders at the "Taif Conference" in 1964 that called for peace and for holding an “independent national conference." However, the two other external forces, to maintain their influence, were quick to conclude a reconciliation agreement in 1970 to preempt an independent Yemeni national conference leading to instability that continued to the present day.