Yemen. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Yemen. 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 Hezbollah.
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 1960s.
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 crimes.
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.