Countryaah official website, President Ali Abdullah Saleh was re-elected on
September 23 in the first direct presidential election in
Yemen's history. Saleh, who has held power since 1978,
received 96.3% of the vote and was elected for five years.
His only opponent was Najin Qahtan ash-Shabi, who belonged
to Saleh's party, the General People's Congress, but who was
running for independence.
In October, the leader of the militant Islamic group
Aden-Abyan's Islamic army was executed after he was
convicted of murdering four kidnapped tourists, three
Britons and one Australian in December 1998. Another
Islamist was sentenced to death for the murder, and a third
was sentenced to life imprisonment. The judges triggered a
wave of violence.
Before and after the hostage crisis, Yemen had arrested a
total of eight British Muslims of Arab and Pakistani descent
as well as one Algerian. All were accused of planning
terrorist attacks against British targets in Yemen, and
several of them were found to have links to a London mosque,
prompting Yemen to accuse Britain of supporting terrorism.
Seven of them were sentenced in August to between three and
seven years in prison, while the others were released.
Incidentally, Yemen was shaken by a number of attacks
during the year, mainly in various public places in Aden and
Sana. A total of at least 20 people were killed. In several
cases, the suspicions fell on South Yemeni opposition.
In 2015, the civil war in Yemen developed into a regional
war with multinational participation. To gain international
support, the Yemeni government linked the resistance to
Houtis to the international fight against terror. The
government justified this with Houtis being backed by the
Shiite regime in Iran and its allies, the Lebanese militia
Support from Iran, and thus the danger of increased
Iranian and thus Shiite influence in the Arabian Peninsula,
was the main reason Saudi Arabia worked for a multinational
military intervention against Houtis in 2015. Formally, the
intervention was initiated at the request of the Yemeni
Government to the Gulf Council, who responded positively.
Saudi Arabia stated that the operation was underway to
prevent Yemen from becoming an area of terrorism. Thus,
internal contradictions in Yemen were again
internationalized, such as during the civil war of the
Operation Decisive Storm launched a bombing of
Houti targets on March 26, 2015. It received support in
April from the UN Security Council, which required Houtis to
give up his weapons and armed struggle. There have been
several attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the war,
but without success. By contrast, the war has had
increasingly serious consequences for Yemen and its
inhabitants. The UN has declared the situation in the
country as the most serious humanitarian crisis, with around
75 percent of the population in 2018 needing help. The war,
and above all the aerial bombing, has also resulted in great
material destruction, both of vital infrastructure and of
the unique cultural heritage.
A number of countries are participating in the coalition
and initially participated in the military attack. The main
players in the coalition are Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates. The latter, among other things with the help
of foreign mercenaries, has been responsible for the bulk of
the ground forces. Such are also deployed from Sudan, funded
by Saudi Arabia. Some Western countries, especially the
United States, but also France and the United Kingdom, have
contributed to the war, including intelligence and logistics
support, including refueling of fighter jets in the air.
These and other countries, including Norway, are accused
of being involved in selling weapons to the warring parties.
In 2017, Norway stopped the sale of such material to the
United Arab Emirates, following the war in Yemen. In the
fall of 2018, a UN expert group accused all leading parties
to the conflict of being likely to be responsible for war
War on jihadists
International military involvement in Yemen dates from
the time before the Houti uprising. This is especially true
of the United States, which has justified its involvement
partly in close cooperation with Saudi Arabia and partly in
the fight against terror.
US support for President Ali Abdullah Saleh was largely
due to common interests in fighting al Qaeda, which gained a
foothold in Yemen in the early 2000s. Following the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States
and Yemen established a military cooperation, in which the
United States, not least, carried out a series of drone
strikes against al Qaeda in the country. This effort has
continued after the multinational war against Houtis began.
In 2016, it became known that the United States had sent
military advisers to Yemen to assist Yemeni forces and the
coalition in the fight against al Qaeda.
The multinational operation targets Houtis, not al-Qaeda
on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or Islamic State (IS). These
are also fighting against Houtis, but are at the same time
being fought by the leading coalition partners, especially
the United States.
Resistance in the south
While the North rebellion has strong cultural and
religious causes, the South's opposition is more
characterized by economic and political conditions. Both
rebels have roots in the era from before Yemen was united in
one state in 1990.
Dissatisfaction with integration led to South Yemen
attempting to break out in 1993. This rebellion was
suppressed after a civil war in 1994. Later, opposition to
the United regime has escalated, to come more to the surface
as a political movement. From 2007 this is channeled through
the so-called South Yemen Movement (also known as
the Southern Movement; in Arabic: al-Hirak). In 2017, a
separatist group originating in this movement was
established: Southern Transitional Council (STC; in
Arabic: al-Majlis al-Āntaqālī l-Janūbiyy). During matches
between various groups in Aden in January 2018, STC was
accused of being behind a coup attempt against the Yemeni
government, which was based in the city. In the fall of
2019, the separatists took in, with military support
from The United Arab Emirates (FAE), Aden, which until then
was controlled by the government forces. This led to
contradictions in the multinational alliance, with Saudi
Arabia supporting the government.
The main requirement for the separatists was, in
principle, equal opportunities as the inhabitants of the
north, particularly related to economic and social
conditions, such as labor and public investment, as well as
greater influence over regional issues, including over the
use of the state's oil revenues. The majority of the oil is
extracted from areas in former South Yemen, but smaller
parts are invested in this part of the country. Later, the
demand has been reinforced for regional autonomy, or - from
parts of the movement - independence, that is, detachment
from Yemen, as a new state, "Southern Arabia". Some groups,
as a result of the multinational war and with the support of
the United Arab Emirates, have advocated the detachment of
parts of the old South Yemenite state formation.