Yemen highlights broader Arab ailments

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star, Lebanon


The stunning situation in Yemen, as the country’s foundations shake and slowly collapse, is an example of the structural weaknesses that plague many countries in the Arab world.

If you want to teach someone about why the Arab world continues to lurch from conflict to conflict in a region-wide maelstrom of political violence and state incoherence, Yemen could be the best example.

The long and astounding list includes, most importantly, tribal and religious forces; Arab nationalist and regional separatist movements; armed sectarian groups; terrorist groups like AQAP; foreign colonial manipulation (in South Yemen before 1967); external Arab power plays and proxy wars; Cold War influences; family-and-security-run governments; attempts at democratization and political pluralism; repeated national dialogues; popular revolutions; direct interventions by neighboring powers such as Saudi Arabia and the GCC, or by the United Nations; indirect interventions by Iran and others; significant external economic assistance; the unification and separation of north and south; serious attempts at consensus-based constitution-writing and decentralization of power; and, to make matters worse, a serious crisis of fresh water depletion that will be catastrophic if it is not addressed quickly and seriously.
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