Yemen. According to Countryaah, the capital of Yemen is Sanaa. 1998 was a troubled year. In June, the government announced price increases of up to 40% as a result of the economic reform program agreed by Yemen and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1995. Reportedly, 100 people were killed in the riots that followed.
Foreign tourists were kidnapped on several occasions, and in December three British and one Australian were killed when police exempted a larger group of kidnapped people. The kidnappers had demanded that an imprisoned Islamist leader be released. It was reportedly the first time that kidnappers in the country made political demands. Former kidnappers have demanded e.g. new roads, water pipes or healthcare.
Several deadly explosive attacks were also carried out during the year. The tense border conflict between Yemen and Saudi Arabia blazed up in late May, when Saudi Arabia occupied several islands in the Red Sea. The conflict with Eritrea, on the other hand, seemed to be resolved when Eritrea in November handed over the disputed island of Great Hanish in the Red Sea to Yemen.
In May, President Ali Abdullah Saleh appointed Abd al-Karim al-Iryani a new Prime Minister after the resignation of former Faraj Said Ben Ghanim. al-Iryani formed a new government completely dominated by the General People’s Congress.
A court in the capital Sana sentenced five South Yemenite leaders to death in March in their absence for attempting to re-establish independent South Yemen in 1995. The five are on the run.
2011 Saleh overturned
In February 2011, the uprising in Egypt and Tunisia spread to Yemen, with thousands demanding the departure of dictator Abdullah Saleh. Saleh refused to resign, but promised not to stand in the 2013 presidential election. The demonstrations continued, and the regime violently attacked the protesters. As a result, 11 MPs from Saleh’s party withdrew on February 23. On March 10, Saleh promised the conduct of a referendum to separate the executive and legislative power. But the protests continued. On March 18, at least 52 were killed and over 200 injured as security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters in the capital Sana’a. Major General Ali Mohsen Saleh now stood on the rebels’ side.
In the following months, Abdullah Saleh declared several times willing to resign, but each time resigned from the agreements made.
On June 3, the presidential palace was hit by rockets. Several were killed and President Saleh seriously injured. He was transported to Saudi Arabia, where he underwent several operations. Prime Minister Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi became Acting President during the interim period. Attempts to conclude new agreements that would mean Saleh remained in exile failed all. 3½ months later Saleh returned to Yemen. It sparked renewed extensive demonstrations across the country. At the end of November, an agreement was reached between Saleh and the opposition with the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) as a broker. Unlike the previous agreements, this deal came to fruition. Saleh temporarily surrendered power to his Prime Minister Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in return for not being brought to justice.
However, the change of power did not create peace. Hadi was accepted by the opposition, but was also seen as the man of the old regime. Demonstrations against the government and its violence against protesters continued through 2012, and in the southern part of the country, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was strengthened. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, the role of the EU and the United States had in the course of time been to prevent greater democratic progress as in Egypt and especially Tunisia. In May 2012, AQAP conducted a suicide attack against the military that cost 100-120 soldiers.
From March 18, 2013 to January 24, 2014, a National Dialogue Conference was held in Sanaa with 560 representatives from Yemen’s various parties, peoples groups and social organizations. The conference was decided in UN Security Council Resolution 2051 of June 2012, and was to create a common platform for the country’s development. However, the increasing disintegration of the country, the violence between the groups and the constant bombing of the United States by its drones made this task impossible. In August 2013, Prime Minister Basindawa escaped with distress and barely an assault as armed men opened fire on his convoy. In October, fighting broke out between the country’s Houthi population and Salafists linked to Saudi Arabia and the larger tribes. The fighting continued until January. Two of the Houthis’ members of the conference had then been killed in assaults. The Houthis therefore withdrew from the conference. The conference’s final document agreed to extend President Hadi’s mandate for another year to oversee the transition process. At the same time, it was agreed to transform the parliament and Shura, as the north and south should each have half the seats. Finally, Yemen was to be transformed into a federal state consisting of 6 regions plus the capital Sanaa. The EU, the United States and the Gulf States commended the conference for its positive results. The Houthis condemned the federalization that, they said, would divide the country into a rich and a poor part.