Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh Discusses Progress in Yemen

Article excerpt


Surrounded by oil-rich monarchies, Yemen, a small mountainous land on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, has continuously faced challenges posed by regional border disputes, civil wars, and alarming economic conditions -- all of which have been potentially destabilizing factors. More specifically, in recent years the country has attracted negative international attention as a result of a series of hostage-taking incidents, which claimed the lives of four tourists in one abduction in 1998.

For a resources-limited country that relies heavily on tourism as a major source of national income, this has proved disastrous. Moreover, direly needed foreign exchange from expatriates' remittances has fallen to record lows due to past actions by the government of Yemen which drove many of its neighbors to expel Yemeni workers. Furthermore, the 10-year ultimately successful effort to unify the Republic of Yemen, with its capital in Sana'a, and the People's Republic of Southern Yemen, with its capital at Aden, was plagued by a series of secession attempts, which culminated in a brief civil war in 1994.

At a speaking engagement in the U.S. capital sponsored by Middle East Insight magazine, the International Foundation for Election Systems, and the National Democratic Institute on April 3, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh discussed his government's policies in dealing with the various sources of instability, and on the progress Yemen has achieved in the areas of constitutional reform and economic liberalization.

Despite the divisions between North and South Yemen produced by very dissimilar economies, colonial experiences, political systems, and sectarian orientations, President Saleh credited his government with achieving and maintaining national unity as a policy. …


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