Arab Spring, a sudden event that involved the Arab world on a pivotal issue. It started when the Tunisians raised their voices against dictatorship in 2011. Constantly, many other Arab countries felt the desire of freedom which led them to start their own revolutions such as Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Yemen had a huge involvement with the Arab Spring since it had its own revolution that had its unique taste. Few days after the Egyptian revolution started, Yemeni revolution took place on 27th/ Jan/2011 by the angry nation; mostly by youth.
Indeed, there were many reasons that caused the existence of the Yemeni revolution such as the spread corruption in the government, the bad economic situation, the high level of unemployment and the inspiration from current regional protests by other Arab countries (Wikipedia, 2013). In fact, there were many methods that were used peacefully by people to accomplish the goals of the revolution such as protests, demonstrations, civil resistance, strike actions and army defection (Wikipedia, 2013). As other revolutions, Yemeni revolution had its own objectives that were supposed to be achieved such as stepping down the regime of the Yemeni former president Ali Saleh who led the country for more than 33 years, building a strong national army capable of defending its nation, and rising the country up economically, culturally, socially and politically(Ahmed Dawood, 2012).
Yemeni revolution has definitely changed the situation in Yemen politically, economically and security-wise. However, there is a major question that must be transparently answered; has the revolution in Yemen brought the change to the country and the nation positively or negatively? The best answer of this question is going to be well-elaborated within this research paper.
The Political issue
a. Power Transition:
Yemeni revolution has made many changes to the political issues in Yemen. As it was mentioned before, a major demonstration of thousands of protestors took place in on 27th January. Five days later, Saleh announced that he would not contest in the next presidential election in 2013 and that he would not transfer the power to his son; Chief General Ahmed Ali. After that, protests by people did not stop in Sana’a; the capital of Yemen, Aden, Taiz, and many other Yemeni regions. Unfortunately, hundreds of people were killed by the military of Saleh’s regime.
By the end of April, Saleh agreed to a Gulf Co-operation Council-brokered deal as balanced deal to solve the current problem. However, Saleh refused to sign the deal for many time. After that, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmar; the head of the most powerful tribes in Yemen called Hashid, announced his support to the revolution and his armed supporters came into conflict with Saleh’s military forces. Consequently, a war existed between the two forces and all kinds of weapons were used heavily. Meanwhile, Saleh got injured very badly after he was bombed in the mosque of presidency, which needed him to be away for immediate medical attention in Saudi Arabia. Five months later, Saleh returned back to Yemen.
On 23rd/ Nov/2011, Saleh signed the power-transfer agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh; Saudi Arabia with the condition of transferring the power to his Vice-President; Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi within 30 days and leave his position as president of Yemen by February 2012, in exchange for immunity from prosecution or courting later on. On 21st/Feb/ 2012, a presidential election was held in Yemen. According to reports, Hadi won 99.8% of the votes, which made a huge change to the Yemeni history of transferring the power from a regime that dictated the country for 33 years to another.
Two weeks after, a new government was formed from different parties to lead the country for a transformational period of time. Actually, many people are asking, did the new political change benefit the nation or not? According to (GOV.UK, 2013), Yemen did not achieve the expected political goals of the revolution since the new government had many problems with one of the territories that was occupied by Al-Qaeda Group; a terrorist group in Yemen. Also, (Hakim Almasmari and Clermont, 2012) believe that Yemeni revolution had its difficulties with the southern part of Yemen due to the fact that Saleh is still living in Yemen and supporting all kinds of destruction to the new government to guarantee its failure.
Nevertheless, (Green, 2013) thinks that Yemeni revolution was one of the most successful revolutions in the world as it changed a deep-rooted regime peacefully and without much violence unlike other Arab countries. In my opinion, as a Yemeni citizen, stepping down Saleh was almost an impossible dream. As a result, I believe that Yemeni revolution has achieved the most significant political goal. However, change does never exist for free, Yemen might face some difficulties after the revolution but not as same as the problems that we would have faced if Saleh’s regime was not overthrown.
b. National Dialogue Conference:
One of the most important events after the Yemeni revolution was forming the National Dialogue Conference. It was formed in March 2013 involving participants from various political parties to discuss Yemen’s situation and find resolutions by discussing and voting in the same conference. The main members of the conference are some General People’s Congress members, independents, and social public figures including political, tribal and businessmen (Wikipedia, 2013).
It is headed by Mohammed Salem Basondowah; the current prime minister and Sheik Hameed Al-Ahmer; the Secretary General of Al-Islah Party. In fact, this conference is supposed to continue for six months under direct supervision of the UN until the time of next presidential election. Now there is a big inquiry about this conference, as it is a product of the revolution, is it going to succeed or not?
(Veen, 2013) believes that since Yemen had a long political life with being ruled by a limited number of elite players, they must defend their interests in any way possible. Therefore, he thinks that it is likely that older and elite dominated parties such as the General People’s Congress and Al-Islah will control the conference as they like, while youth, women’s groups, Al-Houthis and Al-Hirak; separatism, movements will lose out whether they like it or not.
In my opinion, there is no difference between one party and another but by its involvement in the conference and society, and in case of failure of one of the groups in the (NDC), it must be because of its irrelative interests that contrast with Yemen’s interests discussed in the conference. According to (Sami-Joe Abboud, 2013), Yemeni National Dialogue Conference divided all the rights among all the parties according to their number in the community as I mentioned before.
c. The US and Saudi Arabia Interference in Yemen:
One of the undeniable facts is the American and the Saudi interference in Yemen whether directly by the political decisions or indirectly by secret agencies’ inspirations and conspiracies. Now the question is has any difference existed after the revolution?
According to (Tawakkol Karman, 2011), Yemeni revolution did not achieve its objectives completely due to the American and Saudi negative interferences in Yemen. She also thinks that the US used to have many hidden deals with the former Yemeni President; Saleh for the sake of satisfying the Central Intelligence Agency in Yemen.
In my opinion, the US would never stop interfering in Yemen’s issues unless we stop accepting its aids and supervision. At the same time, we can never stop Saudi intervention without not accepting its help with the political issues and decisions. According to (Xinhua News Agency, 2013), the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen that determines many significant decisions in Yemen is supervised directly by the UN which is controlled mostly by the US and the Gulf Cooperation Council which is ruled generally by Saudi Arabia.
The Economic Issue
Based on the information provided by (International Monetary Fund, 2012), Yemen has many challenges with difficult economic issues. Yemeni economy depends heavily on oil reserves that are expected to run out within a decade in the absence of new innovations. In addition to that, these challenges are compounded by a bad security situation, quickly growing population, weak institutional capability and underprivileged infrastructure. Yemen witnessed widespread protests calling for political reforms and more equitable access to economic opportunities. The 2011 political crisis has taken a serious toll on the economy.
According to (Wikipedia, 2009), Yemen is a small producer of oil since it is not registered in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Unlike many other countries, Yemen relies heavily on foreign oil companies that have production-sharing contracts with the regime. In fact, 70 to 75 percent of government revenue is from the income of oil production. Now the main inquiry is, did the economy get better or worse after the revolution?
According to (CIA World Factbook, 2013), Yemen had some great deals with other companies that had benefited Yemen economically very much during 2009-2012. Though, due to the Yemeni revolution, Yemen’s economy started facing many problems in terms of production of many necessities such as fuel and electricity. In my opinion, Yemen is very rich in resources but extremely poor in management. As (Salisbury, 2013) has confessed that Yemen must get rid of corruption in the government since it has a lot of natural resources but its nation is suffering from poverty.
I think as the Yemeni revolution had advantages of change, it must have disadvantages in many terms including the economic situation. Yet, I believe that Yemen will get better soon economically as a result of the hard work of the new government. As (Returns, Sana’a, 2013) stated that Yemen’s unexperienced economic recovery is good news for efforts to restore political stability in the Yemen, which is also crucial for the whole area due to the fact that it lies near main oil shipment directions.
The Security Issue
a. Al-Qaeda Activities:
The name of Al-Qaeda refers to an armed group that has some certain beliefs in fighting under the name of the religion (Islam). Unfortunately, it has a lot of supporters from many countries including Yemen. Meanwhile, there are some countries use its propaganda as an excuse of any massive attack against the nation whether it was done by Al-Qaeda or not, and Yemen is one of those countries. One of the irrefutable facts is that Al-Qaeda has been more active than before the Yemeni revolution 2011. But the question is was the revolution the only reason of Al-Qaeda activeness?
(Schweitzer & Yoel Guzansky, 2013) claimed that a recently captured document written by the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reviews Al-Qaeda’s strategy in 2011-2012, which included occupying many territories in the south part of Yemen. (Schweitzer & Yoel Guzansky, 2013) also think that the Yemeni revolution was the main cause of increasing the number of Al-Qaeda’s activities and operations in Yemen since Saleh’s regime used to fight against Al-Qaeda which led the group to decrease the number of its operations during his ruling time.
In my opinion, the main reason of Al-Qaeda’s attacks in Yemen is the hidden support from Saudi Arabia as many Yemeni people think. For example, the elite group who investigated the last attack in hospital of the Yemeni Defense Minister by Al-Qaeda in December/2013 stated that most of the attackers were Saudi citizens (Wikipedia, 2013). Yet, I do not deny the fact that Yemeni revolution has given Al-Qaeda a golden chance to get more developed as the government was busy with preventing the protests.
b. Al-Houthis Group:
Al-Houtis; a religious, political, armed Yemeni group led by a Shiite commander in the north of Yemen, in a region called Saadah. This group has its own vision and mission which are based on a Shia Mazhab (School of Religious Thoughts) supported by Iran that is against the Sunni Mazhab. Unluckily, this group has its own armed forces; mainly by youths, which were used for fighting against the Yemeni government for several years. The main problem is that Shiites in Yemen are only the minority while the majority of people are Sunnis. Now the question is; has the Yemeni revolution affected Al-Houthis’ movement positively or negatively?
Without a doubt, Al-Houthis did not have any authorities in the ruling government before the revolution as they were considered as rebels. Some people believe that Yemeni revolution has impacted the security of Yemen badly since it allowed Al-Houthis to spread in Saadah (Wikipedia, 2013). Even though I do not believe in Al-Houthis’ concepts, I think that the Yemeni revolution has changed the impact of Al-Houthis positively, from fighting with them to discussing with them peacefully. In addition, the new government has given the Houthis the first opportunity ever to be a part of the government by giving them one of ministries. Moreover, Al-Houthis were given many seats in the National Dialogue Conference that has a huge priority as it contains the lawmakers which led them to stop fighting and start competing in the conference (Mohammed Al-Hasani, 2013).
In conclusion, Yemeni revolution has brought the country a lot of changes that are considered as positive by some people and considered as negative by others. Certainly, any political change must have a value and a price that must be paid by the nation from their blood or from their country’s stability. As like many other Arab countries, Yemen was impacted by the revolution well and badly at the same time. Some people think that Yemeni revolution has not achieved its political goals by stepping down the former president; Saleh, while some others think that the overthrow of Saleh and forming the National Dialogue Conference were the most significant achievements ever.
Also, some people believe that this revolution has raised the interference of the US and Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s issues. About the economic situation, as it was mentioned, Yemen has a lot or natural resources but less uncorrupted leaders. Some people believe that Yemen’s economy got worse due to the Yemeni revolution, whereas some think it is going to be better as it could recover fast from the impact of the revolution. Security issue in Yemen is very complicated as many people think that the revolution has moved the country to a lower level of steadiness in terms of safety for the reason that it activated many terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Al-Houthis.
Finally, I believe that Yemen has gone through a tough and dark journey with the revolution. It had achieved many goals that people have never ever thought about such as overthrowing the Saleh who dictated the country for 33 years, forming the National Dialogue Conference, stabilizing the economy within a short time, resolving the security difficulties of Al-Qaeda and Al-Houthis by discussing rather than fighting.
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