Yemen’s hope wilting

Abdul-Qader Hilal (C), mayor of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, stands with military officials and tribesmen during a mediation between Shiite Muslim rebels and Sunni tribesmen in the northern province of Amran February 4, 2014. (REUTERS/Yemen's Defence Ministry)

The acceleration of security incidents in Yemen should not come as a surprise, as such tension has been brewing for a long time now, but nonetheless, it should act as a stark warning to the interim government.

While the Arab Spring brought the promise of hope, and of a new future for Yemen, with the departure of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, two years later and the country seems in an even more desperate state than before. In the north, it remains to be seen if a government-brokered cease-fire between warring Shiite Houthi groups and Sunni Hashed tribes will hold, not to mention the fact the authorities are having to claim to be a neutral party in these talks.

In the south, the growing presence of Al-Qaeda threatens stability and invites drone attacks by the U.S. Nor is the capital immune, with a surge in daylight kidnappings – whether motivated by politics or financial demands – and violence, such as the bomb attacks that hit Sanaa early Monday.

Quite aside from the violence, Yemen is beset by endemic poverty, illiteracy and drug addiction. One of the country’s few natural resources, gas, is frequently under attack by extremists, with pipelines routinely bombed. Federalist dreams are commonplace, and many long for a return to Yemen of smaller parts.

Whereas once the blossoming of the Arab Spring seemed to shine a window of light onto the country, it now appears to have turned into a nightmare. Are the people of Yemen destined to live a life of such hopelessness forever? No. But it is now up to the current leaders of the country to usher in the necessary changes, or admit they are not up to the challenge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 05, 2014, on page 7.




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