Of Transitology and Counter-Terror Targeting in Yemen
Muftah — 22 April 2014
Notably, however, professional transitologists avoid portraying the GCC Initiative as a blueprint for democratization, much less revolution, in the Peninsula. To the contrary, the Gulf monarchies and their Western allies, especially the United States, are applauded for their vigilance in bringing ‘stability’ to southwest Arabia. According to the technocratic think-tank blueprint for Yemen, an ill-defined stable transition trumps liberalization or popular democracy. ‘Stability’ is assumed to be the most, and perhaps the best, we can expect. Poor President Hadi is given another year or two to get Yemen on track. Gulf and Western donors will be generous, as long as benchmarks for progress are met. There are, however, two problems with this framing. First, it fundamentally contradicts the vision held by Yemen’s peaceful youth who demonstrated for almost all of 2011, and pays scant attention to the social justice aspirations of the most populous nation on the Peninsula. The GCC monarchies, most notably the dominant power Saudi Arabia, are inimically and intractably fearful of popular democracy. The Saudi kingdom outlaws and represses almost all forms of political expression. The second and more profound problem with these external narratives is their tendency to portray Yemen’s problems as purely endogenous self-inflicted wounds.
Hadhramaut: Rebellion, Federalism or Independence in Yemen?
Muftah — 23 April 2014
The private fortunes being made by Yemeni generals from oil companies may be a key reason why violence in Hadhramaut has ramped up tremendously since 2012. It is no coincidence that, in implementing government restructuring of the military, President Hadi has replaced a number of army and security leaders in Hadhramaut’s oil regions. It would be unrealistic to think that these military leaders, who were suddenly deprived of millions of dollars in monthly payments, would not react or resist in some way. Indeed, many Hadhrami commentators have asserted that many of the shadowy acts of violence and relentless series of assassinations of military leaders in Hadhramaut are in reality intra-military conflicts and leadership struggles among army leaders competing for lucrative oil company security contracts.
Yemen latest front line in Saudi-Qatari feud
Al-Monitor — 23 April 2014
Saudi Arabia informally supports tribal and religious forces in Yemen, either through its embassy in Sanaa or directly through Riyadh. But changes in the regional power balance have moved Islah from Saudi’s circle of allies and beneficiaries to the circle of enemies. The relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Yemeni tribes on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia on the other, is fateful. This relationship has deep and complex interests and Riyadh used to be able to tip the power balance in its favor. But Doha is meddling in Saudi Arabia’s hypersensitive files in Yemen, including the issue of Yemeni labor. Riyadh deported tens of thousands of Yemeni expatriates after adopting a new labor law that was passed in November 2013. More are being deported: as many as 12,500 expatriates through the airport in Sanaa alone in January-March. Qatar, however, has announced that it will open its doors to Yemeni labor and ordered that Yemenis residing on Qatari soil be treated like Qatari citizens in terms of access to education and health. Whatever the justifications, Riyadh’s actions have earned it widespread popular anger in Yemen because the actions happened at a time when Yemen is in a critical state. Continue reading