It’s been a momentous time for Yemen. The reign of Ali Abdullah Saleh has finally come to an end and Yemenis have their first new president for 33 years – Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who is already recognisable for being the vice-president for the last 17 years. Events have quickly shown, though, that Yemen’s problems aren’t going away easily: a car bomb was detonated outside a presidential palace only hours after Hadi was sworn in. So what happens next?
Saleh has stepped down thanks to a deal brokered by the Gulf States and now, under a recent law passed by the Yemeni parliament, Saleh and many other top officials get immunity from prosecution. It should be noted though that Saleh’s immunity is legitimate in Yemen but not under international law so, hypothetically, should Saleh leave Yemen he could be arrested.
…the rest of the world wants it to regain a stable government…
We can only hope that Hadi will be better, but he hasn’t got off to a great start: he was the only name on the ballot paper in an election that was frankly a bit of a joke, but he spoke well in his first speech about the need for security and calling the fight in Yemen against Al Qaeda a “national and religious duty”. This is the main story, this is why our news agencies are interested in Yemen: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular. Whatever happens in Yemen the rest of the world wants it to regain a stable government before Yemen becomes a new Al Qaeda stronghold.
Saleh has left, but his legacy is far from wiped away: most of the top jobs are still held by his family members and plenty of protesters want rid of the whole lot, as well as to see Saleh stand trial. The Yemeni uprising may still be in its infancy as far as we know. Since Roman times, Yemen has been known as Arabia Felix (Latin: Happy Arabia) because it enjoyed more rainfall than other parts of the Middle East and was an important trade point: it looks like it’ll be years from now when that name will be in any way legitimate again.