Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Yemen’s got 99 problems, but a drone ain’t one

As Yemen faces a widely popular secessionist movement in the south, an entrenched Shiite rebel movement in the north, and a scattered Al-Qaeda insurgency campaign roused by US drone strikes, the state is effectively being pulled apart at the seams.

The central government in Sana’a is desperately weak and commands little authority outside the capital. Militant groups, rebels, and tribes seized the opportunity to embolden themselves, following the drawn-out resignation of strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2011. The ancient capital, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, is rife with bullet holes, damaged infrastructure, and rubble from past explosions and fires. As the poorest country in the Arab world, some 54.5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and economic stagnation is worsening. The severe instability of the state today is a consequence of three decades of rampant mismanagement under Saleh’s rule, as he consolidated his power through a system of patronage that wildly enriched members of the country's tribal, economic, and military elite at the expense of the wider public. Following an assassination attempt that significantly injured him, Saleh handed over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who became president in February 2012, after he stood unopposed in elections.

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Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at