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Yemen is a small state on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula with a turbulent modern history.  The country’s weak government has limited control and tribalism runs strong in the inaccessible mountains and deserts.  Furthermore, foreign influences and rivalries have often contributed to violent conflicts.  The British, defending their hold on the strategic port of Aden, bombed insurgent tribesmen in an early use of air power during the colonial period.  Nearly a hundred years later, the US has launched a drone-based air campaign against “Al Qaeda” and those challenging the authority of long serving President  Ali Abdullah Saleh.  Some say the strategic port of Aden is again at issue.

But the Yemen crisis cannot be understood only in geo-political terms.  It’s fragile, impoverished economy is running short on oil resources, the government is deeply corrupt and unpopular, and both illiteracy and poverty are widespread.  Further, the country is the world’s major producer and consumer of the narcotic qat; and life-giving water, pumped from underground reservoirs, is rapidly running out.  Neither bombs from Washington nor billions in aid from Riyadh will solve these problems, or rescue Saleh.  Yemen is slipping towards the anarchy of its neighbor, Somalia, and trucked-in water provides its people with only a tenuous and short-term lifeline.

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UN Team in Yemen to Push Reconciliation (January 27, 2013)

A UN Security Council delegation visited Yemen to support President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi in the reconciliation peace talks. Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets to mark the occasion. The Protestors demanded that justice be served to the former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, for the crimes he committed during his three decades of dictatorship. He was granted immunity by the “Gulf Initiative 2012”, which removed Mr. Saleh from government and aimed to provide a framework for a new constitution and democratic elections.  The Security Council aimed to push forward the terms of the Gulf Initiative, and iron out arising conflict between the North and the South, which became unified in 1994. Despite the fact that Mr. Saleh was ousted by the initiative, the public are largely dissatisfied with the UN-backed deal because it protects Mr. Saleh from any form of prosecution or punishment. (Agence France Press)

Aid Money Unspent as Yemen’s Transition Process Drags On (January 17, 2013)

On September 2, a drone strike killed 10 civilians in the Yemen city of Radaa, the highest number of casualties since May. While the US is launching drone raids as part of its “war on terror,” Yemen is often taking the blame for these covert US attacks. The current Yemeni president owes his position to the US and both countries agree it looks less damaging if Yemen claims to be behind the strikes in its own country. However, Yemenis have started to protest US drone strikes that have killed scores of civilians, including women and children. The high number of civilian deaths and the lack of accountability for these killings is challenging the legitimacy of the US covert war on terror and further destabilizing Yemen. (Guardian)


Who Is Held to Account for Deaths by Drone in Yemen? (September 6, 2012)

On September 2, a drone strike killed 10 civilians in the Yemen city of Radaa, the highest number of casualties since May. While the US is launching drone raids as part of its “war on terror,” Yemen is often taking the blame for these covert US attacks. The current Yemeni president owes his position to the US and both countries agree it looks less damaging if Yemen claims to be behind the strikes in its own country. However, Yemenis have started to protest US drone strikes that have killed scores of civilians, including women and children. The high number of civilian deaths and the lack of accountability for these killings is challenging the legitimacy of the US covert war on terror and further destabilizing Yemen. (Guardian)

Starving and Broke: Yemen's Renewed 'War on Terror'(May 30, 2012)

This Middle East Online article discusses the root causes of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The country’s natural resources and its strategic port of Aden have, throughout history, been subject to foreign influences which have often fuelled violent conflicts. Since President Hadi took office in February, the US has intensified drone attacks in Yemen under the banner of its war on al-Qaeda. However, US war against a decentralized network of fighters will likely lead to more violence in the country. Combined with sectarian violence, political divides between north and south, rampant poverty and water shortage, Yemen may be following the same route as Somalia. (Middle East Online)


Yemen's Conflicts Hasten State Collapse (October 27, 2011)

Following the Arab Spring, demonstrations against President Saleh are gaining momentum in Yemen. The country now faces a political stalemate as President Saleh refuses to step down from power. Violence and insecurity are spreading, while the terrorist threat posed by Al-Qaeda remains strong. Meanwhile Yemenis are struggling for their survival as poverty is rising and Yemen faces a humanitarian crisis. (Reuters)

Did the UN Security Council Just Grant Amnesty to Yemen’s Saleh? (October 21, 2011)

After nine months of increasingly flagrant human rights abuses in Yemen, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the crackdown on peaceful protestors. The resolution endorsed a regional political initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) aimed at securing President Abdullah Saleh’s commitment to step down. However, the proposal would grant immunity to Saleh and his regime for abdicating office, a provision opposed by Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkul Karman and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR). (Foreign Policy)

Yemen: Political Upheaval Likely to Increase Child Labor (October 6, 2011)

The recent political unrest in Yemen, coupled with global food price volatility, is putting a strain on poor households. Parents are sending their children to work and child labor has increased dramatically, while school attendance has decreased. Children are employed in the fishing and agriculture industry and their work is often dangerous. As unemployment is high in Yemen, children also migrate to Saudi Arabia in search for jobs. The Yemeni government is unable to implement measures to put an end to child labor. (IRIN News)


Covert Operations in Yemen: Washington Criticized for Human Rights Violations (September 7, 2010)

In May, a US cruise missile attack in Yemen mistakenly killed a government official. While the US military has not publicly acknowledged its air strikes in Yemen, the New York Times has stated that the US "provided firepower, intelligence and other support" in last December's raids. Amnesty International has called on the US to clarify its role in unlawful extra-judicial killings in the country. (Toward Freedom)

Weapons Galore in Yemen (April 14, 2010)

In Yemen, weapons outnumber people at a ratio of three to one, amounting to some sixty-million units in the country. The proliferation of weapons fuels Yemen's civil wars and drives the instability of an already precariously balanced country. The Yemeni government is trying to pressure the parliament to pass a law that regulates arms in the country, but opposition from religious and tribal leaders has so far stopped any progress. Citizens of Yemen argue that weapons are necessary for protection, because the parliament does little to safeguard their lives and livelihoods. (Media Line)

Yemen Refuses to Go Along with US Extrajudicial Killing Policy (April 14, 2010)

Yemeni authorities have refused to participate in the extrajudicial killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, planned by the US government. The foreign minister of Yemen, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, argued that US suspicion without firm evidence is not enough to convict al-Awlaki of terrorism, let alone sentence him to death. This is not the first time the US has ordered the killing of Yemeni officials; in 2002, Kamal Darwish was assassinated by a US drone strike.  (Inter Press Service)

Yemen's Aid Conundrum (March 17, 2010)

Foreign aid donors question the capability of Yemen to use development funds effectively citing corruption of Yemen's central government. Yemen suffers from significant problems - from dwindling revenues to unemployment to food insecurity that is fueling political instability. Many insist that Yemeni budgetary control should be decentralized, and that donors should consider directing money through international and national civil society organizations. (IRIN)

A Race for Drilling Water Wells (March 16, 2010)

Yemeni farmers are befriending the owners of water-drilling rigs to desperately seek water resources. Water-drilling is not only highly expensive but also incredibly damaging to long-term water security in Yemen; extensive groundwater wells made this Middle Eastern country vulnerable to water shortage in the first place. Some farmers have even resorted to using explosives to reach the depths necessary for usable water. The Yemeni government must gain control of illegal water drilling because it endangers the very existence of the country.  (Yemen Observer)

Yemen Threatens to Chew Itself to Death (February 26, 2010)

Water is removed from Yemen's water-table four-times as fast as it is replenished. Over forty-percent of this water is lost to the production of the narcotic qat. In Yemen, complete depletion of water reserves is expected in 2017. The World Bank predicts the country's oil reserves will be empty in the same year; oil revenues currently constitute seventy-five percent of Yemen's national income. As oil and water levels drop, a dangerous humanitarian crisis unfolds. Families already spend a third of their income on water.  (Guardian)

Bureaucratic Red Tape Blocks Foreign Aid to Yemen (March 1, 2010)

Corruption, cronyism and a lack of administrative competency will ruin Yemen, regardless of the amount of foreign aid. In 2006, Yemen received $5.5 billion but has only spent ten-percent. A meeting in Riyadh last week discussed several means to bypass President Saleh's administration: foreign donors chose and implement development programs, and/or international aid agencies execute the projects.  (The National)

Yemen and the Militarization of Strategic Waterways (February 7, 2010)

One of Washington's key military objectives is to gain control of strategic waterways. Yemen's island of Socotra has access to four of the most crucial waterways in the world: the Suez canal, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Malacca. The US has already met with the President of Yemen to discuss the establishment of a permanent US-military base on Socotra for both sea and air. If the US were to make a permanent base on Socotra, it would be in a prime position to interrupt/control Chinese, African and European maritime trade, especially the trade of oil.  (Global Research)

Selling food aid to pay the rent (February 3, 2010)

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) with neither shelter nor money to pay the rent are making the turbulent situation worse in Yemen. Aid workers say that dozens of families are selling food aid in the capital, Sanaa, to pay their rent. UNHCR and other local NGOs such as Islah Charitable Society have already deployed a shelter assessment team in Sanaa, but the UNHCR representative, Marie Marullaz, calls for more funding in the region. (IRIN)

Ruling Yemen Gets Even More Complicated (February 3, 2010)

The leader of Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, is rapidly losing political capital and control. Saleh previously ruled through money, force and propaganda; however, the country is now on the verge of bankruptcy, its security forces are spread thinly across many fronts and people no longer believe the party line.  (Los Angeles Times)

Saving Yemen (January 28, 2010)

Yesterday's conference on Yemen in London recognized that the country faces many urgent problems.  The conference members did not focus on Al Qaeda or direct intervention strategies, rather they analyzed the more structural problems in Yemen and created the 'Friends of Yemen' group.  (Guardian)

Yemen, Where Dead Men Eat Lunch  (January 19, 2010)

The "underpants bomber", who was allegedly trained in Yemen, has put this poor middle-eastern country back on the international security agenda.  In this article, the author argues that hyping up security issues in Yemen will not help the situation.  Whitaker asserts that foreign aid and security assistance have increased to Yemen, following the discovery of Al Qaeda in the country.  Consequently, President Saleh will continue to emphasize the presence of Al Qaeda in Yemen to secure the continuation of foreign assistance - hardly a priority when Saleh's country is plagued by endemic corruption, chronic food and water shortages, and mass displacement.  (Guardian)

Obscured by War, Water Crisis Looms in Yemen (January 19, 2010)

Yemen's current water crisis was exacerbated by previous IMF and World Bank (WB) policies.  Prior to their intervention, Yemeni farmland was irrigated with collected rainwater.  However, in the 1970s, the IMF and the WB provided financial incentives for farmers to dig wells and use underground aquifers.  These agricultural readjustments - though bolstering food production levels originally - have led to 85% of Yemen's water being used in agriculture.  Agriculture in Yemen not only requires large amounts of water, but also wastes large amounts of this valuable resource.  (National Public Radio)

Southern Rural Areas Forced to Rely on Trucked-In Water, (January 14, 2010)

The highlands in Southern Yemen have exhausted their water resources.  The three districts affected by the shortages have a combined population of two-million.  Yemenis in the area have resorted to transporting water, at great expense, from neighbouring districts.  Extensive cultivation of the popular chewing substance qat is partially blamed for the water shortages.  (IRIN)

Years of conflict have left Somia in turmoil, but as thousands flee the country's insecurity and poverty, they confront new horrors. This documentary from Current TV reveals the circumstances in which refugees, seeking security in Yemen, lose their lives while attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden in overfilled and unsafe smugglers' boats. Those who survive the 200 mile crossing face an uncertain future in Yemen - a country which itself suffers from extensive poverty and unemployment and is ill-equipped to deal with these new arrivals. (Current TV)



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