Yemen's Insecurity Dilemma

By Fattah, Khaled | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March/April 2014 | Go to article overview

Yemen's Insecurity Dilemma


Fattah, Khaled, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


The brazen Dec. 5 attack which rocked the Defense Ministry in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, killing 52 people, including women, children and doctors at the ministry's hospital, is yet another reminder of the country's growing insecurity. Even before the dust of the attack had settled the usual suspects were named: al-Qaeda-affiliated militant jihadists.

However, tabloid-style sensationalism and the narrow fixation on al-Qaeda's rhetoric and tactics obscure the fact that the biggest source of insecurity in Yemen's post-Arab Spring climate is not the active presence of al-Qaeda, but rather the power struggles and lethal factionalism within the military and state security entities. It is a strategic misperception to attribute the country's ongoing political violence to ideological, sectarian, tribal or regional motives.

On the ground, everything seems to indicate that the Yemeni state is caught in a spiral of elite-orchestrated systematic chaos which is threatening to push the fragile country over the brink. Seasonal militant jihadists, mobile sectarian outfits, elite defectors, autonomists, criminal networks and armed militias under the patronage of different local and external patrons all have stepped up their activities-either to settle accounts, maintain material interests, expand their political power and territory, or hamper efforts aimed at a post-Arab Spring renegotiation of Yemen's social contract. Old rules and networks are being rejected, but new rules and networks are not yet formulated. Dangerous uncertainty is the name of the game.

Since President Rabbo Mansour al Hadi assumed office in February 2012, the country has been plunged into large-scale violence targeting the military-security apparatuses. Three months after Hadi took office, a suicide bomber wearing a Yemeni army uniform killed about 100 soldiers during a rehearsal for a National Unity Day parade. In addition to attacks on military installations and checkpoints in various parts of the country, "shoot and scoot" attacks against military, intelligence and security officers have become common. In the first half of 2013 alone, more than 85 middle- and high-ranking officers were assassinated.

Another vital sector under attack in Yemen's post-Arab Spring climate is the country's energy infrastructure. Acts of industrial sabotage and the resulting shutdowns of oil fields have become as regular as clockwork. In the first seven months of last year, more than 115 attacks on the country's main oil pipelines, electricity grid and fiber-optics network were reported. Although Yemen is not a major hydrocarbon producer, its oil and natural gas resources account for over 90 percent of the country's exports, finance up to 70 percent of national budget spending, and, above all, are the main machinery of patronage and the regime's politics of survival.

Securing the country's pipelines and other critical energy infrastructure is a stated goal of Yemen's current president. The 34-member transition government cabinet, sworn in in December 2011, has adopted a "Transitional Program for Stabilization and Development" which aims to enhance security and ease poverty. Paralyzed by partisan gridlock, however, the transition government is in no position to take serious measures to enforce its authority, control and protection. In the northeastern province of Marib, where the heart of Yemen's energy infrastructure is located, there is a newly emerging popular saying which goes: hit a pipe (pronounced "peep" by locals), get a jeep. The saying refers to the government's distribution of jeeps to local figures in return for their cooperation in stopping the sabotaging of energy infrastructure in the province.

Responding to the string of assassinations in Yemen's southern, central, eastern and northern provinces, the central government could only implement a temporary two-week ban on motorbikes in the capital city. The Interior Ministry described the ban as a step aimed at "preserving security and stability. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Yemen's Insecurity Dilemma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.