Yemen. According to Countryaah official site, peaceful demonstrations, civil war and militia attacks shook Yemen this year to a point when much of the country was no longer under the control of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Only then, on November 22, did he give up and sign an agreement to resign.
In January, young Yemenis, inspired by the riots in Tunisia and Egypt, walked the streets, especially the capital Sana, demanding Saleh’s departure. A loosely cohesive coalition of opposition groups (JMP, United Party meeting) camped in a square they called the Change Square. The regime responded with violence and state of emergency. On March 18, snipers fired straight into a demonstration, killing 52 people.
Several high-ranking military members joined the opposition, the demonstrations escalated and the Change Square was moved to the University of Sana, where large crowds gathered every Friday after the prayer. Among the inmates were Tawakkul Karman, who in October became one of three women (the other from Liberia) who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Protesters also gathered in the country’s second largest city, Taizz. On April 30, bulldozers leveled the opposition camp there with the ground and some 50 protesters were reported to have been killed.
At the same time, a power struggle escalated between Saleh and two rival camps. One was General Ali Mohsin who resigned from the government army in March. The other was the powerful al-Ahmar family, whose supporters in the al-Hasaba province took up arms against the government forces in May.
Saleh was seriously injured in a grenade attack on the presidential palace in Sana on June 3. He was taken to Saudi Arabia for care and Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took power. Many opposers hoped Saleh could be counted off, but his sons remained in the security apparatus. On September 18, protesters went outside the barricades around the Change Square. Saleh’s forces opened fire, Mohinn’s forces reached out to the protesters’ defense and the following days fierce fighting in Sana raged. At least 80 people were killed.
Saleh returned unexpectedly on September 23 and wound himself like a worm on the hook. Already in April he had promised the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to relinquish power. But he refused to sign the agreement. In October, the UN Security Council in Resolution 2014 demanded that he sign on, and at the same time, Jamal Benomar, adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the matter, put additional pressure on him. On November 22, Saleh finally signed the agreement. His powers of power were transferred to Hadi, but formally he had to retain the presidential title until February 2012, when Hadi would also take over it.
Hadi appointed independent opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa as acting prime minister. The first task of the new leadership was to lead a Security Council that would demilitarize Sana and a national dialogue that would propose constitutional changes. There were many problems. It was unclear whether Mohsin, the al-Ahmar family and Saleh’s sons would be allowed to be controlled. What would be required to get the rebel groups in the north and south on the train also remained to be seen. In addition, the protesters at the Change Square remained, now in protest that the agreement meant impunity for Saleh and his family.
Another unresolved problem was the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which exploited the power vacuum during the unrest to advance south. The government’s fighter aircraft and driverless US attack aircraft conducted a number of attacks against targets during the year that were said to belong to AQAP. US-born Yemeni AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki, long hunted by the United States, was shot dead in September in a US air strike in the central part of the country.
About a third of the country’s residents were estimated to be hungry and the lack of water was great. The residents of the south were particularly hard hit.
The democratic system created in connection with the reunification has been steadily eroded after the civil war. GPC’s position was significantly strengthened in the 1997 and 2003 parliamentary elections, while both al-Islah and the Socialist Party were marginalized and complaints of suspected election fraud increased. A constitutional change in 2001 extended the president’s term of office from five to seven years. President Saleh was re-elected by a large majority in both 1999 and 2006 and appeared prepared to seek further re-election in 2013, when Parliament, on New Year’s Day 2011, made a decision in principle on yet another constitutional change that would allow him to be elected for life.
However, while the power of the President and GPC was formally strengthened, their real control over the country weakened during the 1990s. In the north, the army fought fierce battles with Shiite clan militia (the Huthirbells) loyal to the 2004 radical prayer leader Husain Badr al-Din al-Huthi (1956-2004). In the southern provinces, a separatist uprising emerged. There, in 2007, the Southern movement (al-Harakat al-Janubiyya) was formed, which through strikes and armed attacks seemed to promote a new division of the country.