Origins of Uprising in Yemen

Published: 2019-11-08 09:30:00
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First Yemens revolutionary movement achievement occurred in February after the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. However, the regional threats, intimidating economic challenges and the co-option by the key powerbrokers in Yemen threaten to dissipate the opportunity to bring back its falling social contract (Thiel, 2012). Efforts to stabilize, though unavoidable must not come at the expense of the democratic rights of the people.

The year 2011 became a year full of revolts in the Arabian Middle East and the North Africa. Motivated by the desire for liberty, social justice, and dignity; millions of Arab population took to streets in protest against the veteran state strongmen and their greedy advisors. They were fighting against the quasi-feudal state structures which constituted the stronghold of their regimes. Driven by the likeness of the uprisings, critics quickly welcomed this transnational wave of the revolution led by social media youths (Thiel, 2012). The simultaneous mobilization seemingly awakened political scientists explanations over the Arabic autocratic resilience, over powerful security apparatus, rentierism and complex regime strategies of division and the culture of politics.

Unable to govern the countrys ungovernable politics, Mr. Salah never lets go his power even in the face of rampant uprisings and protest movements. His governance was guided based on two pillars: military and the rentier state. Unable to govern the state alone, Saleh employed another tactic through an inclusive network of tribal, religious military and party elites to secure their loyalty. Through his family nobility he was able to control the security apparatus; most of the top military positions he gave to his relatives (Thiel, 2012).

As protests gained momentum, Saleh reacted with a mix of political strategy; patronage and corruption, propaganda and repression. He gathered a large congregation of tribal sheikhs at the Tahrir square, raised the salaries of the civil servants, tax cuts among others. Concurrently, many activists were attacked or arrested by hired thugs or/ and the security forces. He termed the uprising as an affront against freedom, unity and democracy and claimed that the protests were planned by the Tel Aviv who were trying to destabilize the Arab world. When the simple strategies failed to bore fruits, the response by the regime became heavy handed and March 18 became the turning points the government snippers killed more than 50 protesters and leaving injured more than 200. Since it was obvious that this was authorized by Saleh, it exposed the moral failure of the state regime and in no time the little support hemorrhaged overnight. Faced with an increase in government brutality, the revolutionary youth movements expanded into mass uprisings. The March 18 killings accelerated the divisions in Saleh's regime whereby even his strong ally General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, moved his troops to the Sanaa promising to protect the protestors (Thiel, 2012). This move, in turn, saw prominent diplomats, Salehs party members, government officials and military officers resign from their duties.

Oddly, the most influential supporters of the democratic movements and revolutions were the veteran regime insiders. The defection resulted from not a goodwill but because of the failed alliance policy by Saleh. The increase his attempt to increase the concentration of power within his family went against unwritten agreements on power sharing. Another blow came to him when his headquarters was accidentally hit by the Air Force. Saleh thoughtfully slowed down and sabotaged the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), hoping that he will outdo the revolutions singlehandedly (Durac, 2012: 161-178).

On June 3rd, Ali Saleh was seriously injured when an attack was planned on his compound where he was evacuated to Saudi Arabia for specialized treatment.' Though unconfirmed, there was no reason to say that it was not an assassination attempt by Al-Ahmars. Even though there was a cease-fire after the assassination fighting went on along other conflict lines across the country. Most of the wars were waged against the Republican Guards where their military equipment were captured and others destroyed. Simultaneously, the Shia radicalism fought with the Sunni and Salafist fighters, leading to great bloodshed in the nation. Furthermore, in May 2012 hundreds of radical Muslim fighters took over the control of the capital Zinjibar province (Juneau, 2013: 408-423). Even though there was the engagement of some of the Yemeni militaries against the militants, the rebels alleged that Saleh was colluding with the Al-Qaeda, this, in turn, prompted the US to intensify its attacks against Al-Qaeda killing a good number its leaders.

The hungry for power politicians used protesters to strengthen their political ambitions. The Islah political party among others increasingly gained power over the change squares. Since they were well organized with high profile leaders, they surpassed the independent youth who were not well-funded and poorly organized with experience in politics. After months of instability, Saleh returned to the country in September where he was forced to sign an initiative by GCC which he bowed to it on November 23rd due to pressure from the international council. After 90 days Mohammed Basindwa became the prime minister of the bipartisan government, with an equal division of ministerial posts between the ruling and the opposition party. The elections were scheduled for 21st February 2012 with the founding of a Committee for Military Affairs for Achieving Security and Stability in Yemen (Durac, 2012: 161-178). A controversial immunity law was also passed to guard Saleh though this was later on rejected by the UN human rights chief. This marked the beginning of stabilization in this Arab state. On February 21, Yemen had a referendum which confirmed Hadi who was then the acting president to be the president with full authority with a win majority votes.

With the support of the foreign powers, the new president initiated bold moves. For instance, Hadi created a new Sanaa protective Security Force which comprised members from both the rivaling groups. Notably, the Yemen government under the leadership of both Saleh and Hadi constantly accused Iran of backing up the rebels especially the Houthi with financing, training and even providing them with military aid dating back to 2010s ceasefire. The Tehranian critics claimed that the Iranians cleared their tracks of their support efforts by providing the rebels with money instead of weapons. It is even noted that some of the Houthi leaders admitted receiving money from Iran, though they couldnt reveal the amount of money they had received or when were they made available (Terrill, 2014: 429-440). The intensions of Iranian support to the Houthis was not clear, but it is obvious that the funds helped in the uprisings through firearm and ammunition purchases.

In conclusion, Yemens case offers quite a number of understandings into to the political dynamics of the Arabic nations. For instance, revolts in Yemen have a good similarity with other Arabian countries in terms of their dynamics, motivations, and origins. Like other countries, revolts in Yemen emerged as a result of hiking socio-economic distress characterized by unemployment and poverty.

Work cited

Juneau, Thomas. "Yemen and the Arab Spring: Elite struggles, state collapse and regional security." Orbis 57.3 (2013):

Durac, Vincent. "Yemen's Arab SpringDemocratic Opening or Regime Maintenance?." Mediterranean Politics 17.2 (2012): 161-178.

Thiel, Tobias. "Yemens Arab Spring: From Youth Revolution to Fragile Political Transition." The London School of Eco-nomic and Political Science, http://www. lse. ac. uk/IDEAS/publications/reports/pdf/SR011/FINAL_LSE_IDEAS__YemensArabSpring_Thiel. pdf, accessed April 8 (2012): 2015.

Terrill, W. Andrew. "Iranian involvement in Yemen." Orbis 58.3 (2014): 429-440.

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