Yemen in Crisis: Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State.

Helen Lackner.

(London: Saqibooks, 2017, 330 pp.)

Helen Lackner’s incisive analysis of the political, economic and social causes of Yemen’s instability and the roots of Saudi Arabia’s agressive policies;  has served as the guidelines for the conflict resolution proposals of the Association of World Citizens.  The Association of World Citizens has been actively concerned with three issues in the Yemen conflicts:

1) The violations of international humanitarian law, involving attacks on medical facilities, medical personnel, and the use of weapons banned by international treaties; especially cluster munitions.

      The Association of World Citizens has been particularly active in promoting a treaty on the prohibition of cluster munitions.

2)  Humanitarian relief;  especially food aid.

       With the Saudi-led blockage of ports and airfields;  it has been difficult for the United Nations or relief organizations to bring in food supplies.  It is estimated that some eight million people suffer from famine-like conditions;  and that some 17 million others are in conditions of food insecurity.  The United Nations has repeatedly sounded cries of alarm;  but little international action has followed.

3)  The creation of a Yemen confederation. 

      While the form of State structures depends on the will of the people of Yemen (if they were able to express themselves freely);  the Association of World Citizens proposes con-federal forms of government;  which maintain cooperation within a decentralized framework;  as an alternative to the creation of new independent States.  In 2014;  a committee appointed by the then president Abu Hadi;  proposed a six-region federation as  the political structure of Yemen;  a plan which still merits serious consideration.

Helen Lackner

      A major issue concerns the ability of Yemen to remain as one State;  or again to split into two with Sana’a as the capital of one State in the north;  and Aden as the capital of another State  in the south.  These two States were the political structure until 1990;  when the People’s Democratic Republic of Yeman;  with  its center in Aden; combined with the Yemen Arab Republic in the north to become the  Republic of Yemen. 

     Leading up to 1990;  there was wide hope that the union of the two States would lead to increased well being.  In practice;  there has been little improvement. If there has been an improvement;  it is because of external economic factors and not directly linked to the union.  The lack of improvement in the south has led to resentment in the south and on the part of some persons;  a desire for southern separation. 

     Recently;  some in the south have formed new militias.  It is difficult to know how far they will push for separation;  and the creation of an independent State.  Already in 1994;  there had been armed attacks to push for a return to an Aden-based State.

you might interesting  Yemen and World Law: Building from Current Violations.

Operation Restoring Hope.

On 24 March 2015;  the Saudi Arabian leadership launched a military operation;  called at the time by the code name “Decisive Storm” later changed to “Operation Restoring Hope”.  Despite limitless weapons from the USA and Great Britain;  the Saudi-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emerates);  made relatively few territorial gains beyond those tribal areas within Yemen;  that were already favorable to the Saudis;  tribes that often existed on both sides of the frontier.

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There have been limited negotiations;  under the leadership of United Nations mediators.  The negotiations were limited either by the number of relevant factions invited or the limited topics discussed;  usually the possibility of a ceasefire;  or the delivery of humanitarian aid.  Broader negotiations are needed;  but have not been undertaken.  The Association of World Citizens has repeadedly called for negotiations in good faith;  but good faith is in short supply.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.


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