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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Dec 31, 2010

Yemen Political and Social Unrest

Mr. John Brennan, the advisor on terrorism for President Barak Obama, stated in his presentation at the Carnegie Center for Peace that al-Qaeda in Yemen is very active and poses the biggest threat to the U.S. Mr. Brennan stressed the point that the Yemeni al-Qaeda is even more dangerous than bin Laden’s group, which is located at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He further stressed that the Yemeni terrorist group’s activities are increasing and will create more danger for the U.S. However, Mr. Brennan stated that the Yemeni government is an ally of the U.S. and his meeting with President Ali Abdallah Saleh was fruitful. It seems to me that Mr. Brennan is no different than other American politicians who ignore facts that lead to the rise of unrest and terrorist activities, not just in Yemen, but in the rest of the world.

There are a few factors that have contributed to the social and political unrest in Yemen. Some factors are internal; others are external. The internal ones are as follows: first is the absence of democratic rule in Yemen. The country is run by an authoritarian regime headed by an ex-army officer who claims that his party has been legally elected. As usual, elections in the Arab world are nothing but a routine to bring an always-ruling party back to power. In Yemen, various opposition political parties are not supportive of the Yemeni government and contribute to its instability. The economist intelligence unit “Democracy Index 2010” ranked Yemen 146 out of 167 countries (The Economist, 12/4/2010). Second, more than 60% of the Yemeni people are poverty stricken due to high rates of unemployment. Third, Yemen is among the five most water poverty stricken states in the Arab world where the individual water share is less than 400 cu.met. per year. The world water poverty level is 700 cu.met. per person per year. This water poverty also led to a decline in agricultural productivity. Fourth, Yemen’s illiteracy rate is one of the highest in the Arab world.

All of these factors and others led to the political unrest that Yemen is experiencing presently. There are also other foreign factors that encourage the development and rise of organized terrorism. The history of U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world has been consistent in their support of authoritarian corrupt regimes. Yemen is no different from the rest of the Arab states. Democracy is not the rule and corruption prevails at all government levels.

During the past few years, the U.S. government has sent military hardware and armaments to fight the rebels. The true help the U.S. can provide is economic aid to create jobs for the unemployed. Yemen’s infrastructure is very poor and in sad shape. A project that will be significant would be to recycle used water – if not for drinking than at least for cultivation. Furthermore, the construction of sewage systems is needed badly. These are just a few examples that will create good will between the U.S. and the Yemeni public at large.

Another factor that has contributed negatively to the image of the U.S. is its total support of Israel. The Yemeni population is extremely nationalistic and their support of the Palestinian struggle is well known in the Arab world. I would say without hesitation that the major factor behind the rise of world terrorism is the blind and total support of Israel by the U.S. government. The Arab population in general can see what Israel is doing to Palestinians on a daily basis on the screens of their TVs. For that and other reasons, the U.S. image in the Arab world is the lowest it’s ever been worldwide.

1 comment:

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