VIENNA MODEL UNITED NATIONS CLUB

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1 VIENNA MODEL UNITED NATIONS CLUB The Security Situation in Yemen Study Guide March Session

2 History of the Republic of Yemen During the 60 s Yemen was divided into a northern and a southern part. The northern part of Yemen was ruled by a group of imams until a pro-egyptian military coup took place in The Yemen Arab Republic was proclaimed and after a civil war in which Egypt's president Nasser and the USSR supported the revolutionaries. The King Saud of Saudi Arabia and King Hussein of Jordan supported the royalists, but they were defeated in Meanwhile the southern port of Aden had been colonized by Britain. It was strategically located at the opening of the Red Sea. With an expansion of its territory in 1937, it was known as Aden Protectorate. In the 1960s the Nationalist Liberation Front (NLF) was founded and they fought the British rule. This led to the establishment of the People's Republic of Southern Yemen in 1967 under a strong influence of the Soviet Union. The People's Republic of Southern Yemen was the only Marxist state in the entire Arab world. In 1990, the two governments reached a full agreement on the joint governing of Yemen and the countries were merged on 22 May 1990 with Ali Abdullah Salah as its President. The former President of South Yemen, Ali Salim al-beidh, became Vice-President. A unified parliament was formed and a uniting constitution was agreed upon. However, differences over power sharing and the pace of integration between the North and the South came to a head in 1994, causing a civil war. The North's superior forces quickly overwhelmed the South in May and early June despite the South's brief declaration of succession. The victorious North presented a reconciliation plan providing for a general amnesty and pledged to protect political democracy. A peace agreement between northern and southern leaders was signed in Amman, Jordan on 20 February 1994, but it did not stop the civil war. During these tensions, both the northern and southern armies gathered on their frontiers. A defeat of the southern armed forces and the flight into exile of many Yemeni Socialist Party leaders and other southern secessionists were the result of the May July 1994 civil war in Yemen. According to rumours Saudi Arabia actively aided the South during the 1994 civil war. In 1999 Ali Abdullah Saleh became Yemen's first directly elected president, winning 96.2% 2

3 of the vote. The only other candidate, Najeeb Qahtan Al-Sha'abi, was the son of Qahtan Muhammad al-shaabi, a former President of South Yemen. Though he was a member of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party, Najeeb had run as an independent. Beginning of the Houthi insurgency The Houthi insurgency in Yemen began in June 2004 when dissident cleric Hussein Badreddin al-houthi, head of the Zaidi Shia sect, launched an uprising against the Yemeni government. The Yemeni government alleged that the Houthis were seeking to overthrow it and to implement Shī'a religious law. The rebels countered that they were "defending their community against discrimination" and government aggression. Houthis was killed by Yemeni troops and one of his brothers became the new leader of the rebellion. Between 2004 and 2010 the fighting continued and many heavy clashes took place. In 2011 the Arab spring also reached Yemen and the Houthis used the anti-government protests for their cause. Finally president Saleh resigned after a 33-year rule. In February 2012 Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-hadi was elected the new president, however the fighting and violence continued. Worsening of the prospects Besides the clashes between the rebels and the government, a lot of other terroristic incidents, such as a number of suicide attacks, a bomb explosion in front of the British embassy and several hostage-takings damaged the image of Yemen. Yemeni officials announced in August 2013 that they had foiled a plan for a large-scale terrorist attack by al-qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Officials said they had been alerted to the plot by intercepted communications between Ayman al-zawahiri, the leader of the organization, and Nasser al-wuhayshi, the head of the group in Yemen, in which Zawahiri reportedly ordered Wuhayshi to launch the attack, and by the recent arrival of dozens of militants to the capital, Sana'a. Officials said, the militants had planned to target Western embassies and offices, the Yemeni military headquarters, and oil and gas pipelines. They did not, however, indicate how they prevented the attacks. The announcement came days after the Obama administration had shut down 19 embassies and consulates in the Middle 3

4 East and North Africa, including posts in Yemen, in response to the intercepted communications. Some analysts were sceptical that Yemen actually thwarted any attacks, suggesting instead that Yemen's announcement was politically motivated an attempt to show it could maintain security and that the move by Obama to close the embassies was alarmist. Indeed, after U.S. personnel were evacuated from Yemen, the Yemen embassy in Washington released a statement saying, "Yemen has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of foreign missions in the capital." In March 2013 the National Dialogue Conference was opened to recommend provisions for a new constitution, ways to shore up the economy, end corruption, and discuss how to curb the secessionist movement in the south. The conference was made up of 565 representatives from political parties, women's groups, youth movements, and other civil organizations. It ended in January 2014, several months behind schedule. While the conference fell short of expectations, it agreed to establish an anti-corruption board, end childhood marriage, improve the rights of women, implement a federal system of government, and work to reduce the marginalization of southerners. In response to the conference, a presidential committee laid out a plan in February for Yemen to become a federation of six regions. Nevertheless, the Houthis took advantage of the instability in Yemen and in early July 2014 they took control of Amran, a city 45 miles north of the capital, Sana. The Houthis gained wide support from Shia and Sunnis due to a statement in August, when Houthi leaders demanded that president Hadi should rescind his decision to end subsidies that helped the poor. By early September they entered the capital and set up a camp there. Hadi agreed to form a new government, with the Houthis nominating the prime minister. He also promised a reduction in the price of fuel, but the Houthis claimed that the concessions were inadequate. As a conclusion of that, a fight between the rebels and the security forces in Sana took place. The fight ended with the Houthis taking control of Sana. On the one hand it was a stunning accomplishment for the rebels, but on the other hand it was an equally significant blow for Hadi. On September 20 th the UN brokered a peace agreement between the Houthis and the government. The next day, Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa announced his resignation. As part of the deal the Houthis agreed to withdraw from Sana, and Hadi said he would reinstate the fuel subsidy, establish a "technocratic national government," work to 4

5 root out corruption, allow the Houthis to select presidential advisers and have more representation in parliament, and implement the provisions of the National Dialogue Conference. The Houthis, however, refused to sign a "security appendix," which called for the rebels to withdraw from Sana and other cities and surrender their weapons. In October, Khaled Bahah, Yemen's former ambassador to the UN, was named prime minister. Overthrow of the Yemeni government In January 2015 a intensification of the fighting between Houthi rebels and government in Sana was noticed. During this escalating situation a draft constitution was adopted that called for Yemen to become a federation of six regions, a concept that had emerged from the National Dialogue Conference, but this move was opposed by the Houthis. The Houthis surrounded the presidential palace complex, with president Hadi inside, and took his chief of staff hostage. On January 21, the Houthis and the government signed a cease-fire, in which the Houthis agreed to withdraw from the presidential palace and the government said, it would abandon the regional plan and give the Houthis more say in the naming of government officials. The Houthis, however, reneged on the deal. The next day Hadi, Prime Minister Muhammad Salim Basindwah, and the cabinet all resigned, citing the Houthis failure to abide by the cease-fire. However, the Houthis said in a statement that parliament must approve Hadi's resignation before it can take effect. The statement hinted at the Houthi's reluctance to assume control over the country since it does not have support of the Sunni majority in the south. In early February, the Houthis dissolved Parliament and said it would be replaced with a national council that would then form a committee to name a new president. In response to the turmoil, Saudi Arabia withheld aid to Yemen because of the Houthis' ties to Iran. In an attempt to form a compromise government, the UN brokered talks between the Houthis and rival political parties. However, the negotiations quickly broke down. On February 6, the Houthis announced that they had dissolved parliament and installed a five-member presidential council which will form a transitional government for two years. A transitional national council with 551 members is supposed to replace the former parliament. However, many Sunni governors in the provinces boycott this development, as 5

6 they are loyal to the overthrown former government. This leaves Yemen in a highly unstable situation without an effective central government. What increases the tensions even more is that former president Hadi managed to escape his house arrest on February 21 and has since then withdrawn his resignation, stating that all actions taken by the Houthis were null and illegitimate. Furthermore Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has gained strength in Yemen due to the current power vacuum. AQAP adheres to an interpretation of Sunni Islam while the Houthis follow a branch of Shiite Islam, because of this dogmatic differences the two groups fight each others and AQAP s attacks on Houthis have resulted in many civilian casualties. Another complicating factor that mustn t be neglected is the interference of foreign powers: The Houthis are allegedly supported by Iran, whereas Saudi Arabia has taken action against them. At the same time the United States continue their anti-terrorism policy against Al- Qaeda, including the use of drones. 6

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