Yemen: richer gulf countries particularly saudia plays an imp role inn domestic politics.
immigration. Large no of Yemenis have worked in suadia and gulf countries but many of the Yemenis were expelled out of the gulf countries after 1990 91 gulf war cos yemens perceived
leaning towards Iraq in that war
Basic data slide: only one of the countries was classified by freedom house as being partly free:
Kuwait which has a some what imperfect and crises riden parli process. Yemen is very low on
hdi relatively. Saudia at the top is not quite so rich in hdi but not as high as in gdp per capita Up until 1990s there were 2 yemens. North yemen and south yemen Southe yemen was former british colony. War of liberation. In 1960s. british left. Left leaning
regime allied with soviets established.
North yemen had never really come under colonial control although it sufferd poli instabilities in
50s and 60s of civil war.
South yemen instability split within the socialist ruling party virtual collapse in south yemen
leading to unification of north and south in early 1990s
There continues to be dissatisfaction in former south yemen. population overwhelmingly arab.
Over half sunni with considerable zaydi shia muslim minority in former north yemen. very sig
regional and tribal diff. local tribal identities quite imp in Yemenis politics.
North yemen: part of the ottoman empire but a part which wasn’t ruled over very closely. It was
a kingdom from its independence till 1962. Coup in 62 and a long civil war in which the
Egyptians under nasir supported the new military regime and Saudis supported the royal forces
and so the civil war in yenem was kinda the Syria of the day where regional politics was being
played. Nasty civil war. Egyptians used chem weapons. Ultimately monarchy lost and YAR
South yemen: aden: strategic for brits royal navy and so taken over and protectorate
established. In UAE british succefully established pro western pro british monarchy federation
was set up as a successor state to the british protectorate. Brits tried similar thing with south
yemen and establish a Saudi Arabian federation thngy but it failed amid civil war and anti
colonial warfare. Ultimately the leftist national liberation front established yemen. 94 war south facing that it got the wrong end of the deal. But theres less population in south as
Saleh was pres of north yemen. then unified yemen. from 1983 uptil the arab spring. He
wasultimately removed from power during the arab spring.
93 elections. First one was relatively free and fare but they became less so as time went on.
Pres saleh’s general peoples congress generally wins majority of seats. Islah (Islamic poli party)
does quite well. YSP old Yemeni socialist party that previously governed the south doesn’t do
Saleh wins pres elections. Increasing access to resources, patronage and a lil bit of froud
insures that the president and his party are winning elections. In the eve of the arab spring you see civil society and opposition parties increasingly demanding
fundamental poli reform and saying they will no longer support the current unjust system and so
you already have this voice for reforms and change. Increasingly vocal for change. increasing
dissatisfaction key context mey arab spring occurs.
Rit of central govt really doesn’t apply once you get outside of the sana and major cities. Tribal
regions are as much under control of the govt as of tribes. Even more so in the south. Where
kind of tribal autonomy and a history of weak gove is compounded by southern resentment at
salehs power. Corruption, constant crisis. Yemen discovers some oil. Not enough to lift the
economy out of poverty. But some oil money gives govt resources to fuel the patronage. Great
deal of rent seeking too. And actors shift around trying to get the resources flowing from the
It can also be argued that salehs governing style was in part 1 was juggling poli crisis. In other
words saleh used to play actors against each other. Like go to outside actors like Saudi and
americans and say I need some help or otherwise my country will go down and look like
Somalia. So both internal and externally saleh was adapt at using crisis to play one side against
another to find resources.
Very poor country. Poor economy. Nor does oil wealth leads to a lot of secondary development.
Cos u bring a rig drill oil and export it. Not really generates lot of employment and secondary
Regime is ina sense a direct descenedent of a military coup in 60s. saleh was ana army officer
pehley. Military, tribalism very imp. Tribalism, patronage sort of informal associations remain
important in the military too. Key military officers chosen cos of loyalty to pres or family relations or friends of pres. Some military offcisial and state officials were able to call upon support of thei
tribal links etc too. Yemen is a case where the formal legal structure of the state (formal posts
people had) didn’t really tell you what their power base was etc. the kind of informal identity or
patronage based politics was extraordinally imp.
Prior to arab spring: faces various insurgent challenges. It faced southern grievances which
sometimes exploded in violence. For several years rebellion in the houthi groups near the
Saudi border in the north. And faced a growth of one of the alqaeda franchises: alqaeda in the
Arabian peninsula. Alqaeda ffiliations in the gulf state really cant stay there given the efficiency
of counter terrorism efforts so they go to the ungoverned place (yemen or Iraq) where they
grow. Saleh uses this aqap threat (which is a seriours threat) but pres uses it to leverage
assistance out of US and to blunt any critizism of corruption and authoritarianism cos after all he
is a valuable counter terrorism partner. US is allowed to conduct air and drone strikes with
Yemenis claiming that its either not happening or claiming responsibility itself that Yemeni
airforce did these attacks but which are actually being done by the US.
For saleh alqaeda was quite useful as a way to get resources from other states cos of the threat
of ebeing a collapsed state.
Final in yemen you has as u had in Tunisia and Egypt: some pending succession issues namely
whose gonna follow saleh.
Uni student initially and later broader section of population begin to protest. Same pattern. Sit
down in the capital. Protest in the capital. Over time. More and more actors began to jump on
this protest thing. Opposition parties and civil society. Civil society is weak cos of other linkages
people have of tribes and clan but there is a civil society. Some of the tribes jump on board.
Some military commander jump on board. So parts of Yemeni army kinda protecting protestors
from other parts of the Yemeni army. Saleh announces in feb that he is not seeking another term. No need to protest. Ill leave at the
end of my term. Which no one believes and the guld cooperation council worried about whats
happening in yemen was worried and wanted to manage the transitional process after the gcc,
although were enthusiastic supporters of the protest against qaddafi were not happy to see ben
ali go, were not happy to see Mubarak go. They thought saleh had a number of weaknesses but
a revo on their doorsteps so gcc and Saudi had interest in this transitional process.
Saudi interest: 1) it’s the most imp of the gcc countries
2) go back to the map and see Saudi is yemen borders with. That border wasnt demarcated
fully until relatively recently. Tribes spill across that border. The area of saudia next to yemen
was the last area incorporated in suadia and the Yemenis kinda think of it as Yemeni and Saudis
kind of think of bits of yemen as Saudi.
3) The Saudis have or were major actors of Yemeni civl wars. Although the royalist lost in the
civil war, the Saudis maintain influence by throwing money at tribes and central govt. bribes for
tribes Yemeni politics
Gcc in march april tries to negotiate a smooth transition. And they get a deal. In may when the
pres was to sign it. He backs out. Classic saleh: play along with time. Ride the crisis. Hoping
something will happen to survive it.
Gcc deal fell apart. Violence escalated. Some of the secuite forces defected to the protesters.
Some security force commanders had ambitions that were better persued if the pres was
removed. Neither the security forces suddenly became democrats. Hashid tribal confedernacy
joins protest. But never is their any clear leadership of the protest. Theres the (JMP joint
opposition parties) the parli opposition, students, civil society, tribal leaders. Very lose coalition
with absolutely no core leadership and saleh saw that and so played along for time hoping that it
will fall apart and bits of it will break away. Or will fight amongst them self. In june of 2011
someone tried to resolve the issue by blowing the pres up in his palace. Don’t know who did it.
He was badly injured and was hospitalized in saudia and with pres remove and Saudis have em
in an hospital, now its time to negotiate transition accept that what the pres does aftera few
months that the pres just leaves the hospital and he flies back to sana. And Saudis thought he
was under arrest but he was a pres and he didn’t negotiate going or cut any deal he just literally
stood up and left. Which annoys the gulf countries and so finally in nov they managed for him to
leave but he wouldn’t leave so what they finally agreed to that he wouldn’t leave right away but
he will transfer his powers to the vice president so he wouldn’t cease to be pres nominally but
he will transfer his powers to the vice president. No doubt he hoped he could play for a few
more months and some how come back.
There were a lot of conspiracy theories and so theres the whole thing that what were the Saudis
doing why would they let him go. Ther was no controversy. Saudis hoped to keep him in Saudi
until negotiations were over but he just stood up and went home without telling them.
He does transfer his poli powers to vice pres al hadi Interim pres election al hadi wins. We do finally get a transition to an interim poli leader. Vp
wasn’t scene as a powerful figure and so why everyone prolly agreed that he could act as
interim pres. Under the deal that’s been reached: there has been a national dialogue conference
which will discuss what they will do in the new yemen. how they will revise the constitution. Etc.
And the process is that once ndc comes up with broad poli agreement on reforms, a govt
appointed committee lawyers will turn those into constitutional proposal. Takes a long time for
ndc to get started. Lots of argument of who should be on it and who shouldn’t. finally meets in
2013. Proposals: federal poli system to address south issues. Greater female representation.
And right now those and some other recommendations have been made which have to be
turned in to concrete constitution proposals. Now that actually will be a challenge cos the legal
lingo will be imp how things will work out. So constitutional stuff to go through referendum and
then elections next year.
Yemen right now is like a semi failed state with a lot of factionalism. Poli rivilries. State is weaker
then ever in terms of controlling what happens outside major areas. Security issues. Aqap has
taken advantage of this chaos to recruit, find resources, build local alliances, often with groups
tribes locals seeking greater autonomy from the govt. establish defacto control over small parts.
Particularly in south where theres alrdy resentment against the central govt. economy remains a
mess. Oil income is stagnant. No other growth sector. Protests in yemen have been motivated
by econ and socio and poli discontentment.
Having said that, given the challenges yemen alrdy faces plus the transitional issues, yemen
could collapse into full scale civil war. It could look even more like Somalia then it does. National
dialogue committee could have failed. And so on and so on.
When one looks at cases like Libya and yemen, they could never have nice clean transtions cos
they had very weak systems, traibalism and other identities were too strong, Libya had nasty civil war, yemen was a country where govt dint really control most of the country. So yemenn
would never have a nice smooth transition. Its extra ordinarily unstable and risky and
problematic but it could be even more worse.
The wealthy part of the Arabian peninsula. 2 countries have non sunni majorities. Bahrain is
around 70 to 80 percnt shia. The presense of a shiate majority in a country where the royal
family is sunni is a major part of poli protest.
Oman has ibadi majority which are neither sunni nor shia. Small off shoot of islam only found in
oman. Rest have shia minorities. But theres a sig diff in the way sunni shia issues do or do not
express them self in the politics. so the mere existence of these cleavages don’t tell you how
they work out in the poli arena. Like the berber example. Different scene of berbers in Libya
Similarly the presence of shia minority operates differently in different countries
In saudia. The state adheres to a particularly puritanical view of sunni islam. In that view shia
are barely muslims if they are muslims are at all. On top of that saudia shia minorities not evenly
distributed across the country but tends to be over the eastern province in disproportionate
numbers where the Saudi oil production is based too. So in Saudi the regime has a shia
minority which it doesn’t trust. Which is ideologically and theoulogically not regarded as proper
islam. Politically views as influenced by iran. And is located in the most imp part of the country.
That’s led to historic discrimination and margiunalization of the community. At times they have
protested. Those protests have been clamped down upon. The regime has had lil difficulty in
mobilizing he support of the sunni majority in support of the clampdown.
By contrast in Kuwait: the fairly sizeable shia minority has historically pretty good relations with
the ruling family. Particularly the merchant elite shia. And has in recent years when shia MP have been elected tipped towards the palace. Seeing the royal family as allies sharing econ
Iraq: 60 percent shia majority and sunni discontempt of marginalization
N if you go to northern Iraq and the Kurdish areas. Most kurds are sunni some are shia and
theres no sunni shia split btw kurds whose main identity is Kurdish.
Large expatriate populations (foreign workers) overwhelmingly these days from south and
south east asia. Pak, india, bangla, sri lanka, Philippines. Some westerns in tech.
Qatar 75 or 80 percent of population are infact foregnrs. Easily deportable foregin workers who
don’t much engage in politics.
In 90s there was a large palestenian population in the gulf. If you go back to the 1990s there
was a large yemein population. 400000 paletenains in Kuwait alone. A mil yemeins in saudia.
But during the Iraq Kuwait war regimes felt that palestenians and yeminis were tilting to Iraq.
Gulf states expelled em.
Theres also a system in gulf where foreignors can open businesses but only in conjuction with
Saudi sponsors. So the business is technically half owned by the Saudis who does nothing but
just sign the contract and gets half the income. When Yemenis were deported those sponsors
got control of those countries and that explains why Yemeni Saudi tensions remain quite high.
With exception of saudia and some extent oman, smaller states gradullay became brit
protectorates in which the brits gained the foreign policy, security policy, subsuduzed them and
frankly those smaller guld emirates, those now ruling families were happy abt the brits thing cos
they were getiin rid of the ottomans or was a way to guarantee a particular families poli fortunes against challenges from other families and tribes. So the expansion of the brit colonialism in the
gulf wasn’t where brits were conquering but the brits finding reasonably enthusiastic allies who
found british guns, gold, protection quite useful in expanding their autonomy from the turks or in
guaranteeing their position against challengers. Brits govern these territories indirectly through
sheikhs, tribal leaders etc. in most of the gulf emirates, these cities were imp trading ports. They
were the merchant ports of the gulf. Some of them were imp part of the pearling industry and
they were sig merchant families. Brit colonialism tended to strengthen the leading families with
which they cut deals. So the al sabah family (the ruling family of Kuwait) the khalifas in bahrain.
The brit colonialism gave those leading families more power and autonomy from the merchents
they had. Leading families got their resources from merchants and so therefore they were
heavily influenced by what the merchants wanted and what they din want. Brits changed that.
So that they became more autonomous from the merchant families and so not surprisingly in
70s the oil further increases the poli power of ruling families. So quite a transition. So the current
pattern of monarchy politics is not the historic one.
Indp – Kuwait – 1961
A decade later for the others
Never formally became a brit protectorate although in many regards it was. Had brit advisors.
Got subsidies. But never entered in a formal protectorate arrangement. Oman was once a
regional empire. But as oman became weaker it intered into a defacto protectorate arrangement
even though it never formally became an electorate.
Saudia however is completely diff from rest of gulf Two sets of alliance btw religion tribe and Saudi family.
Religion: mid 18 to 19 century. Wahhab was a Saudi preacher, religious figure who argued
that islam had become contaminated with non Islamic folk practices. That the weaknesses of
muslims were haing lost their way from they way the Prophet had preached and taught islam. To
purify islam of these innovations (some of em western but a lot of folk ones too like the mazaar
scene) which he argued had no place in islam. His preaching found receptive ear within the
Saudi family which was one of the imp families of the peninsula. The Saudis became partially
fueled the wahabi scene to conquer parts of the Arabian peninsula. This starting alarming
everyone. The brits, the Egyptians the ottomans and they get slapped down.
100 years laters: the triple alliance of family, wahabi and tribal thing again underpins the
expansion in arab peninsula under al saud. While hashemites were leading a revolt against
ottmans, the Saudis were building their power up and at end of ww1 they defeat hashemites
and throw em out. Modern Saudi state is conquered and carved out of the Arabian peninsula.
Saudis kept expanding till they ran into brits. Usually royal air force. Cos back in the 1920s
airforce helped protexted the protectorates by bombing tribes who were rebelling.
Intial oil expolartion 30s and 40s sees the beginning of Saudi oil production. 200000 pbd. Back
then oil prices were very low and being ex