Yemen – a Tribal Society with Problems Part 1

By | November 11, 2021

Yemen is haunted by mainly three major conflicts. One between the government and Shia Muslim rebels in the north, another between the government and a growing movement of dissatisfied Yemenis in the south. The third important conflict is between the government and the new, local al-Qaida organization al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

  • What problems is Yemen struggling with?
  • What divides and what unites the country?
  • Where are the lines of conflict in Yemen?
  • What role do the countries around and other countries play in the conflicts in Yemen?

These three conflicts are made more explosive by tribal conflicts, easy access to weapons, major refugee traumas and rivalry between neighboring Yemen. The government is becoming less and less able to meet the challenges alone. Government revenues are shrinking – partly due to declining oil production. Strong and increasing population pressure and reduced groundwater reserves do not make the situation easier.

2: The background

According to thedressexplorer, Yemen is a union of the former British colony in southern Yemen and northern Yemen, which at least in its name was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918 .

Northern Yemen: Although northern Yemen was officially part of the empire before 1918, the so-called Shiite Imam – a religiously based tribal monarchy – controlled large parts of this area. Imamane were all members of the Shia Muslim movement. Shiites believe that the heirs of Muhammad must be related to the Prophet. In 1962, the last imam was tried to overthrow in a bloody civil war. The Civil War was seen by contemporaries as a showdown between

  • conservative forces around the Imam, which was backed by Saudi Arabia, and
  • Marxists and Nasserists (the pan-Arab supporters of Egyptian President Nasser) supported by Egypt, who also deployed large military forces in campaigns, without much success.

The war was in many ways part of a larger Cold War in the Middle East, where the conservative US-backed monarchy, between Saudi Arabia and Iran, tried to stem the growing presence in Egypt.

In 1970, the Saudis withdrew support for the last Imam, and his supporters were forced to reach a settlement. They gave up reintroducing the Imam, but gained important political positions.

South Yemen: In the British colony in the south, a guerrilla war broke out between the British and Marxist and Nasserist rebels. In 1967, the British withdrew and handed over power to the Marxist National Liberation Front (NLF). South Yemen was declared established in 1970 , and only one party, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), was allowed. South Yemen became one of the most radical Marxist regimes in the Middle East and the extended arm of the Soviet Union. Northern Yemen was more conservative and Islamist. In both states the tribes were politically important , in some areas they also had all the power.

Relations between northern and southern Yemen were problematic and characterized by occasional use of force . Northern Yemen often used radical Islamists, who often viewed Marxists as apostate Muslims, as stormtroopers to the south. Northern Yemen supported radical groups, including those who wanted to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Attempts were made several times to merge north and south. On May 22, 1990, northern and southern Yemen were united, and the president of northern Yemen (since 1978), Ali Abdullah Saleh, became the first president of the new republic. He is currently the president of Yemen. The president of southern Yemen became prime minister, but was later overthrown. Cooperation problems were great, and several leaders from the south declared South Yemen independent in 1994. This resulted in a new civil war, in which the rebels who wanted their own state in the south suffered defeat.

Politics in Yemen

Politically, Yemen was long affected by the civil war in 1994. The Yemeni Socialist Party , the old state-supporting party in the south, was severely weakened after the defeat in 1994. But it continued to stand for election. Another large party, the Reform Movement (Islah) sprang out of Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood, in alliance with the leaders of the great Hashid tribe. The party was used by Saleh in the Civil War and received positions high up in the state administration in return. Saleh’s party, the People’s Congress (GPC), used the treasury to reward its supporters. The other party lacks that advantage.

GPC has dominated most elections to date. But from 2001, the opposition party, both Islah and the Socialist Party, came together in ” a united meeting party ” (JMP), despite very different ideologies. The gathering was a protest against GPC’s misuse of resources and electoral fraud. The GPC also used radical Islamists against many of its enemies. Yemen’s first radical Islamist organizations, the Aden Abayan Army and the Islamic Front , were at times supported by the regime, even though they had contacts with al-Qaeda. They took part in the civil war in 1994 and were opposed to the Shia uprising (see the section under the Houthis later in the text) in the north. Their ideology, which is close to Saudi Salafism , does not accept Shiites and atheists.

Yemen - a Tribal Society with Problems 1