One notable country in the Middle East is the Republic of Yemen, in Western Asia and occupies the Southern to Southwestern end of the Arabian Peninsula. To the East, North and West, Yemen borders Oman, Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea respectively. In the Arab world, Yemen is considered one of the poorest countries…
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Yemen as a country recently has undergone a period of political instability, especially during the “Arab Spring”. This saw the toppling of President Saleh and led to a precarious security situation, with the present government acknowledging that it had lost control of several regions all over the country (Stookey 60). This escalated with over a hundred people killed in a terrorist attack in Sana’a, the capital. This attack was indicative of the political instability that continues to plague the country as they seek to rebuild it after the political upheavals of last year, as well as years of underdevelopment.
In many parts of Yemen, fighting and intertribal clashes are common, with air strikes and heavy shelling in the Arhab district resulting in massive displacement of approximately 10,000 people. Fighting between Al Qaida and the government’s security forces has continued in Abyan, South of the capital that has prompted displacement of approximately 10,000 people to Shabwa, Lahi, and Eden. The Al Qaida leader in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki was downed in Southern Yemen by a U.S. drone (Stookey 62).
Social and political turmoil are on the rise in Yemen following the resignation of President Saleh and most of his government. Before he resigned, President Saleh attempted to placate his people with a twenty five percent increase in military and civil personnel while also reducing taxes by fifty percent, which led to a $3.75 billion budget deficit in 2011 (Stookey 63). Until now, Yemen remains one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, with an average income of around $1,300 per capita, with half of Yemenis living on below $2 a day (Stookey 63). The population of the country has 70% being below the age of twenty-five and half being of working age. The Yemeni government is highly dependent on oil, with seventy percent of revenues and ninety percent of exports reflecting a failure of sectors as such tourism, industry and agriculture to supplement the oil industry. The country has failed to attract foreign investment despite favorable legislation, remaining deeply mired in unemployment that stands at 17%, with half the youth being unemployed (Stookey 67). There is widespread corruption and only 5% of the country’s budget gong towards education, which results in very low literacy rates. Following the Arab Spring, Yemen has faced various economic challenges such as shrinking of the economy by ten percent, inflation of 23%, and a forty percent unemployment rate among its youth. The immediate fiscal problems remain Yemen’s greatest challenge in the short-term. In order to maximize chances of recovery, the government has attempted to improve public financial management, transparency and accountability. Finally, the Madrib pipeline that was destroyed during the revolution is under re-construction, with the government hoping that it will be vital for economic recovery and stability. One of Yemen’s biggest social problems is the presence of Al Qaida. A dramatic prison break freed twenty-three insurgents in 2003 with suspected help from security officials (Brehony 40). After the group had been expelled from Saudi Arabia, it regrouped in Yemen. Another problem is the use of khat, which is an amphetamine that its users claim gives mental sharpness,
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