Blog #8: Yemen’s background and Economy


This page from the world fact-book from The Central Intelligence Agency website is about Yemen. It provides all the basic information about Yemen such us its population, geography, and economy, and so on. The fact-book also includes a brief background about the history of this Middle Eastern country.

North and South Yemen were two separate countries that were not unified until 1990. However, the new Republic of Yemen encountered many secessionist movements since its establishment; and conflict existed between the government and the Huthis, a Zaydi Shia Muslim minority in the northwest. Inspired by other revolutions in the Middle East, the Yemenis decided to have their own revolution in protest of common problems like high unemployment, poor economic conditions, and corruption. As the conflict escalated and violence started to appear, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) requested president Saleh to step down and he found himself forced to consent although he refused at the beginning. Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi,vice president, got the control after Saleh. Due to their continued grievances, the Huthis were no happy with the new government, so they revolted against the government that asked help from the neighboring Saudi government. A coalition of Arab militaries was assembled by the request of Saudi Arabia and began airstrikes against the Huthis. Many peace talks led by the UN has failed to resume peace, and the conflict is still going.

According to 2016 estimates, the population of Yemen is 27,392,779. Out of the 99.1% Muslim population 65% are Sunni while 35% are Shia. With the raise of conflict in 2011, problems in segments like sanitation and improved drinking water sources has intensified especially among the rural population that is initially higher that the urban population. In terms of economy, Yemen is a low-income country, and the current conflict has worsen its economic situation. The GDP PPP is at $31.33 billion, while the per capital GDP is at $2,500 according to 2016 estimates. Agriculture accounts for 23.6% of the GDP and the products include grain, fruits, vegetables, qat, coffee, cotton; dairy products, and livestock. Industry on the other hand accounts for 8.9% and the industries include crude oil production and petroleum refining, cotton textiles. The remaining services 67.5% is generated from the services sector. The Yemen’s exports were halted by the ongoing war. Inflation has accelerated and many damages occurred to the infrastructure. Currently, Yemen is in a real crisis in terms of deteriorating economy and declining water sources and food scarcity.


Yemen’s Economic Outlook- Spring 2016

This outlook from The World Bank is based of latest MENA Economic Monitor Report on Yemen in Spring 2016. It is providing information about the GDP, the poverty rates, and an explanations of the economic obstacles the country is undergoing. It is also suggesting improvements on the political and security fronts as the only way to rescue the country from its current catastrophe.
The GDP of Yemen has contracted by approximately 28 % in 2015. The war has disrupted the economic activities and destroyed the infrastructure. The Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) faced a lot of pressures during the last few years, and is stopped many of its support activities. Currently, Yemen has a poverty rate in the Middle East, and about 37.3 % of the population living below the poverty line of $2 a day. Malnutrition is also a sever problem in Yemen and its has one of the worst rates in the world. During the war years, thousands were killed and millions were forced to flee the war zones, 2.5 million people are internally displaced according to 2015 estimates. The deteriorating sanitation and the unimproved water sources raised the incidences of sever epidemics like diarrhea and cholera. Humanitarian assistance is needed at all scales to help rebuilding the country and saving the survivors.


Yemen was initially a poor country, however, it looks like it became in a real catastrophe after the war. Thousands of civilians are dying from Cholera and no one seems to care. When the revolution started in 2011, it surely has legitimate demands, unfortunately, the revolution has shifted to something that I personally have not expected. Just like in any other war, civilians are the biggest loser, and there safety is neglected by the fighting parties. I always wondered way Yemen is not among the GCC, but know I can conclude that its modest economy could not allow it to have such privilege. Saudi Arabia by leading the war against the Huthis in Yemen seems to have two major justifications. First, political realists are concerned about national security, the southern part of Saudi Arabia has shared borders with Yemen and the conflict could extend to the kingdom. Second, as Huthis are Shia, the concern has doubled and the Saudi government in no condition could allow the Huthis to take control of Yemen as long as they could prevent that from happening. Concerns about influencing the Iranian presence in the region exist with the idea of allowing Huthis to control the country or gain more power. Just like the proxy war in Syria, I think the war in Yemen has a sectarian sense although saving the legitimacy of the Yemen government is the declared cause.


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