Nineteen years ago the Yemen Arab Republic in the north and the southern People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen signed a unity agreement, creating the modern-day Yemeni state on the southern tip of the Gulf.
The differing historical experiences, which forged the north and south, helped cement divisions that are still apparent today and that continue to sporadically plunge the nation into bitter civil war.
With 34.8 per cent of the population living in what the UN classes as extreme poverty, natural resources including oil, on which the government is heavily economically dependent, and water, expected to run out in the next decade, concerns are growing as to how the country can withstand these myriad internal pressures.
Add to this, concerns over the apparent growth in grassroots support for terrorist groups including al Qa’eda, whose leader, Osama bin Laden, hails from Yemen, and it is clear why regional powerhouses and the West are watching events ever more closely.
“In the last 12 months, many of the internal problems in Yemen have intensified: the economic crisis, the southern separatist movement, the al Houthi conflict and fears about terrorist groups establishing stronger networks inside the country,” said Ginny Hill, the author of a Chatham House briefing paper on the country entitled Yemen: Fear of Failure. “It’s clear that concern is rising among Yemen’s neighbours and international governments about Yemen’s ability to withstand this convergence of challenges.”
Source: The National