March 17, 2014

Yemen on the Path of Reforms

It is quite obvious that no matter who will be heading Yemen, its socio-political and economic problems in the near future will remain on the agenda.

The acting Yemen President A. M. Hadi on February 10 this year signed a decree on the changes in the state system and the administrative-territorial division, according to which Yemen is a federal republic consisting of six provinces: four northern and two southern ones. All necessary changes will be enshrined in the Constitution of the republic, the draft of which is already being actively discussed by the participants of the national dialogue.

Against Yemen's new state system ​​are the influential confederation of tribes Hashed in the North of the country and separatists — in Southern Yemen, where on February 21, a wave of protests took place. Participants of demonstrations demanded to restore the independence of South Yemen and declared their opposing the new administrative-territorial division of the country. During clashes with Police, dozens of protesters were injured and one person died.

Youth is for reforms
Youth is for reforms

Some Western analysts believe that the main source of socio-economic problems of modern Yemen is the complicated demographic situation, as it negates all the efforts of the central government, trying to find a way out. Thus, as a result of rapid growth in the second half of the XX-XXI century, the young population of Yemen has increased almost three times and replenished the mass ranks of the unemployed. Despite foreign humanitarian and financial assistance, funds are sorely lacking. Conditions of life of most of Yemen's population can be characterized as unacceptable for a modern man. Thus, electricity is intermittent; there is not enough drinking water. Many Yemenis are not able to receive even basic health care.

Poverty and unemployment
Poverty and unemployment

Caused by the complicated demographic situation problems, exacerbated the “Arab Spring” and resulted in armed clashes in many regions of the country. Soon there were tens of thousands of refugees. Political instability in the country has a negative impact on the production and supply of oil, which also has a very negative impact on the state budget. Besides, the situation in the country is affected by national peculiarities of life of the population, such as use of khat (narcotic plant) and political traditions of state power (tribalism and widespread corruption).

Against this background, there has been a very tough political struggle. It involves representatives of many political movements — from the Muslim Brotherhood to socialists. The acting President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi has got an opportunity to sit in the presidential chair, as his candidacy was approved by the opposition, members of the coalition “Lika Mushtarak” (“General Meeting”), that is, he was supported by the leading political forces of the country — the “Islah” (“Reform”) Party and the Yemen Socialist Party.

The being in opposition party “General People's Congress” now is not a cohesive political force because in its ranks there is a tendency for a split because of personal ambitions and interests of some of its members. However, it is supported by numerous supporters.

The internal political situation is getting complicated due to periodic bursts of separatism in the Northern and predominantly in Southern regions. Thus, in South Yemen the leading political force remains united movements demanding separation from the North. The North, where Hussites rebels are active, in its turn, is seeking to establish a theocratic state with the central government. Seeking to strengthen the central government, the Yemeni government has decided to extend President Hadi’s term for one year.

Recently, the foreign policy of Yemen shows a consistent trend to strengthen relations with the United States and leading European states, which give it considerable financial and economic assistance. As well as with powerful Asian countries — India, China, Korea and Japan, acting as the main investors in the Yemeni economy and consumers of Yemeni hydrocarbons.

Despite the existing problems, Yemen is also trying to strengthen its regional positions. One of the priorities of the Yemeni leadership remains rapprochement with Member States of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) — Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

GCC summit
GCC summit

The ultimate goal of these efforts is Yemen's accession to this organization as a full member. However, this is unlikely if you take into account the huge gap between the level of economic and technological development of Yemen and that of the GCC countries. Note, however, that the GCC has played a significant role in the process of peaceful transition of power in Yemen in 2011.

In Yemeni affairs is noticeable participation of Iran. As expected, it supports northern Hussites and southern separatists, as it probably would benefit from the collapse of Yemen. Iran itself categorically rejects such accusations. But, cooperation with an independent South Yemen, in the case of restoration of its statehood, would greatly strengthen positions of Tehran in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, where are known to be major international maritime communications.

Western analysts believe that in the future it may strengthen directed against Israel Iranian-Sudanese military cooperation and stimulate supplying of Palestinians in Gaza with Iranian weapons by land route, beginning in the territory of Sudan.

So, the situation in Yemen remaining extremely tense catches the attention of the world community, which sees this country only as a base for international terrorism.