The West is concerned about the development of the situation in Yemen. Like Tunisia and Egypt, this country is becoming another center of massive social protests. For the time being, the events in Egypt push Yemen into the background. The West and Israel often refer to Yemen as a failed state now.
Yemen attracted the world's attention last year, when it transpired that al-Qaeda was planning to open a third front in the country (after Afghanistan and Iraq). The events in the country took a turn for the worse after Yemeni Shiite groups supported by Iran attacked Saudi Arabia.
Yemeni opposition, including radicals, united in their struggle against the sitting President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been ruling the country for nearly 33 years. Like in Tunisia and Egypt, the Yemenis criticize their president for corruption, gross violations of human rights, and many other things.
Saleh is being slammed for universal poverty in Yemen. Fifty percent of the country's population live in poverty, many others suffer from unemployment. Such a hopeless state of affairs in the country has appeared as a result of the demographic explosion. In 1950, the population of Yemen counted nearly five million people. Nowadays, the population has grown to 28-32 million. The economic development is unable to catch up with the demographic growth. On average, one Yemeni female gives birth to six children. By this state of things one shall assume that the local population will double by 2050. Yemeni oil fields will be exhausted by 2017, which builds very gloomy prospects for the country.
If Saleh does not keep his presidency, Yemen will fall under the influence of Islamists. Most likely, the country will repeat the history of Somalia. In addition to longstanding conflicts between the North and the South, the country is being torn apart by tribal contradictions.
One should bear in mind the fact that such a development of the situation may seriously affect the crude transportation channel between Somalia and Yemen. This channel is extremely important for the West. Islamists do not conceal their interest in destabilizing Yemen even further. If Islamists come to power in Yemen, they will be able to manipulate Israel and the West who receive a lion's share of crude from Yemen.
Sergei Demidenko, an Arabist expert with the Institute of Strategic Analysis, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that the situation in Yemen may develop speedily indeed.
"Any negative scenario is possible for this country. First off, Yemen suffers from very serious social and tribal problems. Yemen is the poorest of all Arab states. Like Tunisia and Egypt, Yemen does not have considerable oil reserves which would let it live like Kuwait does.
"One does not have to take much effort to cause chaos in such countries. A slight push will be enough. For nearly 30 years, Yemen has been the battlefield between two regional superpowers - Iran and Saudi Arabia. The world economic crisis adds more fuel to the fire. As for Egypt, this troubled country has been like an older brother for Yemen for years.
"As for the development of the situation in Yemen, stability is not something that the country will experience in near future. The situation will be getting worse and worse. The uncontrollable growth of the Yemeni population will continue. Unemployment will be growing too, and the social basis of instability will only be strengthening.
"The population growth in Arab and Muslim states occurs when the economic situation begins to worsen, although it may sound strange for many. The worse the economy gets, the faster the population grows. It works like a protection device: a higher birth rate guarantees survival for an Arab family. The more able-bodied people a family has, the more chances for survival it may get.
"This is not going to bring stability for Yemen, of course. The situation on the border with Saudi Arabia will only escalate. Taking a gun and fighting against the oil-rich American proteges will be the only way out for millions of Yemenis. Many of them will most likely want to follow in Somalia's footsteps. Saudi Arabia will not be sitting on its hands watching the fire burning, of course. The country may even consider an armed intervention in Yemen in the long run," the expert concluded.
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