Yemen

Republic of Yemen
Population 26,737,317 (July 2015 est.)
Independence 1990
Languages Arabic (official)
Form of government Republic
GDP (2014) $42.23 billion; per capita (2014): $3.800

Yemen is located in Southwest Asia, on the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is the second largest country in the peninsula, occupying 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi). It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to the south, and Oman to the east. North Yemen, independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1918, and South Yemen, from which the British withdrew in 1967, were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. Ali Abdullah Saleh, former President of North Yemen, was accepted as President of the new unified state. Since unification, the Middle Eastern country has experienced alternate periods of stability and conflict.

Following parliamentary elections in 1993, political disputes led to civil war breaking out in 1994 between the pro-union northern region and separatist southern region. The south declared its secession, but government forces from the north entered the southern capital city of Aden, declared peace, and granted amnesty to all those involved in the secessionist movement. In 1999, President Saleh ran for a new term in the country’s first popular presidential elections and received 96% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2006.

The Arab Spring in 2011 brought change to many countries in the region, including Yemen. Following public protests, violent clashes with security forces, and multiple assassination attempts, President Saleh stepped down in 2012 after 34 years in power. His deputy of 18 years, Vice President Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi, assumed the presidency.

Amid this political instability, fighting broke out between the military and a northern Shia minority group known as the Houthis. In January 2015, Houthi rebels claimed control of Yemen’s northern capital and placed President Hadi under house arrest. Despite calls from the international community for a reversal, Houthis dissolved the current government and announced a new Houthi-led regime. President Hadi later fled to the southern city of Aden, where he denounced the coup, and then to Saudi Arabia, where he remains in exile.

As of mid-2015, the country has no functioning government, though President Hadi is still recognized by the international community as the head of state. President Hadi’s military, aided by allies including Saudi Arabia and the United States, continues to fight rebel groups to regain control of the capital. The UN estimated in July 2015 that more than 1,900 civilians have been killed and nearly 300,000 people are internally displaced. The conflict is exacerbated by the resurgence of al-Qaeda, which has taken advantage of current instability to establish a stronghold in Yemen.

Yemen became a member of g7+ in 2014, prior to the outbreak of the 2015 crisis. 

Government Title Name
President H.E. Abd Rabuh Mansur HADI
Vice President and Prime Minister H.E. Khaled BAHAH
Minister of Administration H.E. Abdulraqeb SAIF FATEH Al-Dubai
g7+ Focal Point Mr. Khaled AFIF, Ministry of Planning

Under the existing constitution, the chief of state is the President, and the head of government is the Prime Minister. The President is popularly elected in 7-year terms; the Vice President and Prime Minister are appointed by the President.

The bicameral parliament is composed of the 111-member upper house, known as the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council), and the 301-member lower house, the House of Representatives. Members of the Majlis al-Shura are appointed by the President, and members of the House of Representatives are popularly elected in six-year terms. Parliamentary elections have been repeatedly postponed; the last elections took place in 2003.

In February 2015, Houthi rebels deposed President Hadi and dissolved the cabinet and parliament. Houthis declared intentions to create a five-member Presidential Council tasked with forming a two-year transitional government. This government would include a transitional national council of 551 members intended to replace the dissolved legislature. The UN does not acknowledge the Houthi government, and the international community has called for the constitutional government to be reinstated.

Yemen’s government is highly centralized. Provincial councils and governors are popularly elected, but capacity for public management in local government is a challenge.

Poverty in Yemen is endemic. Line ministries and civil service are functioning, but volatile political leadership has significantly affected the government’s ability to deliver social services and to plan for the future. Poverty has risen in recent years. Water is scarce, food insecurity is common and population growth is high. The violence has forced thousands of schools to close. Lack of employment opportunities, weak government institutions, and limited infrastructure are obstacles to socioeconomic development.

Ongoing conflict has led to infrastructure destruction and the internal displacement of 300,000 Yemenis. The country is also host to more than 250,000 refugees from Syria, Ethiopia, and Somalia, which has further destabilized social systems. In July 2015, the UN designated the humanitarian situation in Yemen as a Level 3 crisis, the most severe.

Prior to the 2015 crisis, Yemen’s investment environment was improving, with new mechanisms established for improving access to credit and small business start-up. Reducing corruption and improving property rights and land policy were key government priorities for private sector development.

The oil and gas industry accounts for one-fourth of Yemen’s GDP, and more than half of government revenue. In addition to the 25% of GDP generated by oil and gas, agriculture composes about 10% of GDP, and services, 65%. Most Yemenis are engaged in agriculture and livestock herding; services, construction, industry, and commerce account for less than 25% of the labor force.

The current government has experienced financial crisis due to Saudi Arabia’s blockage of Yemen’s oil sales. The World Bank and other multilateral institutions pulled out of Yemen in early 2015 due to political instability, suspending economic reform programs. Weak security, high unemployment, instable governance and insufficient institutions continue to be challenges to private investment.