Issues and the Target Audience being Addressed
Yemen is one of the countries that have experienced the Arab Spring protests witnessed in other countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. According to Swift (2012, p. 21), these protests started soon after the Tunisian revolution.
The Yemenis, just like other Arabs in other parts of the world, were motivated by the success achieved by the civilians in eliminating the autocratic rule in Tunisia. This was in early 2011. When it started, the protestors demanded that the government should not modify the constitution as had been pre-planned.
They claimed that such modifications would grant the president absolute powers. The government stopped its plans to modify the constitution in order to pacify the protestors. However, this did not take them away from the streets of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city. They came up with a new demand to justify their stay in the streets.
They wanted the long-serving President Ali Abdula Saleh out of office. They accused him of being an autocratic leader who was not concerned about the well-being of the society. The protestors used bombs and other weapons to target the senior government officials, including the president and his family.
They succeeded in forcing him out of office in late 2011 (Bennett, 2015, p 14). In 2012, a democratic election was conducted in the country and Rabbuh Mansur Hadi became the president. For a while, all seemed well as the new regime took power.
In 2013 and early 2014, the country experienced minor cases of protests in the major streets, especially following some of the landmark decisions made by the president in the cabinet. The year 2014 saw the emergence of Houthi rebels who came up with new demands.
By September 2014, the Houthis had taken control of the country’s capital city. The UN intervened, and the rebels agreed to withdraw their forces from Sana’a. However, in 2015, things got worse.
The Houthi rebels once again took over the city, putting the president under house arrest in February 2015. The president fled to the southern town of Aden.
According to Khaled (2015, p. 11), the Houthis have become so violent in their protests. Having taken over power, they are now moving to southern provinces in order to consolidate their power. This war has drawn the attention of many neighboring countries, making it a policy issue.
Iran has been accused of supporting the Houthi rebels. However, Saudi Arabia led other GCC countries to support the ousted government. This paper is specifically addressing the GCC states annual summit. This issue in Yemen is no longer about poor leadership.
The long-serving president was ousted in 2011, and a democratically elected president came to power. However, the killings and militant’s rule are still prevailing in this country. The rebels are supported by a neighboring country. Houthi rebels are spreading their rule of terror to Southern parts of Yemen.
If this issue is not addressed within the shortest period possible, then the country will be under the rule of the rebels. Their rule will be a security threat to other GCC states. These are people who do not respect the law. They may attempt to spread their rule of terror to neighboring states.
This will bring instability in the entire region. For this reason, the GCC states summit must act now to counter this group as fast as possible.
Background: The Context and Importance of the Issue
The crisis in Yemen has reached a very critical stage. People are dying and the country has become ungovernable. According to Sengupta and Gladstone (2015, p. 13), what is worrying about this situation is that the rebels do not know what they want. They lack a clear justifiable agenda as to why they are in the streets.
They wanted a change in the regime and they were able to achieve this in 2011. They participated in an election where a president was elected unopposed. Through this election, the Yemenis made their voices heard.
It will be important to critically analyze these events in order to understand why there is turmoil in Yemen even after the rebels achieved their objective of changing the leadership of the country.
Overview of the root causes of the problem
According to Zavis (2015, p. 4), the uprising that intensified in 2011 calling for a change of regime was similar to the events witnessed in other Arab countries that were demanding for a democratic rule. However, the current mayhem caused by the Houthis goes beyond the desire for democratic governance.
The current political unrest in Yemen is a policy issue that GCC state summit should investigate and find an appropriate solution to before the country is declared a failed state. For instance, it will be important to investigate why Iran is supporting the Houthi rebels.
A successful election was held in the country and many people expected that the country will experience political stability (Bennett, Hennigan & Zavis, 2015, p. 2). The Houthis do not have a just cause to wage a war against a democratically elected government.
It is therefore, worrying that the Iranian government is supporting them in such wars by providing them with sophisticated weapons. The biggest question that needs an answer is the interest of the Iranian government in having a politically unstable Yemen.
The GCC states summit needs to intervene in the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Regional governments, led by Saudi Arabia, have already started a military action against the Houthi rebels. This is an option that can help stabilize the country and the entire region.
In fact, Melinda (2015, p. 8) says that the military actions led by the Saudi government will offer a lasting solution to this problem, especially if it succeeds in installing a government with a military capacity to counter the rebels.
However, its weakness is that it may result in deaths and destruction of properties in the country that will affect its economy. The United Nation brokered a deal in 2014 that was accepted by the rebels. The deal involved formation of a coalition government that brings together all the leaders from the north and south regions (Smart, 2015, p. 9).
It worked for a while, but the rebels changed their minds and took over power. The benefit of this option is that it eliminates deaths and destruction of property that is common when a military action is taken. The main weakness of this strategy option is that it is prone to abuse by those who have superior military capacity.
Potential courses of action
This problem must be addressed as a policy issue, especially following the entry of outside forces, including the dreaded ISIS fighters. The GCC states summit should consider taking either of these options.
- The GCC states summit should broker a deal with the government and rebel leaders to form a unity transition government that should last for six years. Within this period, the country will prepare for an election. The winner in that election will become the accepted leader of the country.
- If the first option fails, then the six federal governments should be given more executive powers to govern themselves. The six countries will then choose one leader to act as the head of state. The head of state should not have executive powers.
In both options, there should be a clear warning to either side that a breach of the agreement will be met with a full military action. Any external players such as Iran and ISIS should be warned against playing any role in this peace arrangement.
According to Tisdall (2015, p. 5), the GCC states should understand that with Houthi rebels in power in Yemen, the security of the entire region will be at risk. This is specifically so because it is not yet clear who is sponsoring the rebels besides the Iranian government.
Ellwood (2015, p. 2) says that the Iranian government has not yet justified why they are supporting the rebels. The following policy recommendations should be given serious considerations.
- The GCC states should slap the Iranian government with trade sanctions as long as they are still supporting the Houthi rebels. This will help in limiting the weapons and financial resources used by the rebels.
- The GCC states summit can take advantage to address the problem that ISIS poses in the region. Given that the ISIS is also against the rebels, the GCC leaders can seize the opportunity to find a common solution in the entire region that will bring an end to the constant bloodshed in the region.
- In case diplomacy fails to achieve the desired results, then the military intervention may be the last resort as a means of bringing stability to the country.
Bennett, B. (2015, March 14). Joint Statement by the United States and Yemen. Los Angeles Times, p. 14.
Bennett, B., Hennigan, W. & Zavis, A. (2015, April 16). Saudi-led Yemen air war’s high civilian toll unsettles U.S. officials. Los Angeles Times, p. 2.
Ellwood, P. (2015, March 30). Policy: Peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa. The Guardian, p. 4.
Khaled A. (2015, March 25). The Crisis in Yemen: What You Need to Know. The New York Times, p. 11.
Melinda, B. (2015, February 12). Yemen facing ‘forgotten crisis’ as humanitarian disaster looms. The Guardian, p. 8.
Sengupta, S. & Gladstone, R. (2015, April 15,). U.N. Envoy in Yemen Conflict Says He Will Resign. The New York Times, p. 13.
Smart, J. (2015, April 1). Yemen profile – Timeline. British Broadcasting Corporation, p. 9.
Swift, C. (2012, March 18). The Crisis in Yemen: al-Qaeda, Saleh, and Governmental Instability. Foreign Policy Research Institute, p. 21.
Tisdall, S. (2015, March 26). Iran-Saudi proxy war in Yemen explodes into region-wide crisis. The Guardian, p. 5.
Zavis, A. (2015, April 16). Al Qaeda seizes Yemen airport, military base; U.N. envoy resigns. Los Angeles Times, p. 4.