Regionalism and Rebellion in Yemen: A Troubled National Union by Stephen W. Day
Like other Arab revolutions in 2011, it is said that Yemen's rebellion was modeled on street protests in Tunis and Cairo. As this erudite new study explains, however, what happened in Yemen is far from being a mere echo of events elsewhere. In fact, the popular uprisings which came as a surprise in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya and Syria, were already well underway in Yemen. As early as 2007, this country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula was embroiled in sit-ins, demonstrations, and open rebellion against the government. The author ably demonstrates how Yemen's political upheaval is rooted in divisions and conflicts of the past, especially the country's troubled national unification in 1990. Based on years of in-depth field research, this book unravels the complexities of the Yemeni state and its domestic politics with a particular focus on the post-1990 years. The central thesis is that Yemen continues to suffer from regional fragmentation which has endured for centuries. En route the book discusses the rise of President Salih, his tribal and family connections, Yemen's civil war in 1994, the war's consequences later in the decade, the spread of radical movements after the US military response to 9/11, and finally developments leading to the historic events of 2011. Politics in this strategically important country is crucial for many reasons, not least on account of its links to al-Qaeda terrorism. The United States and western allies have good reason to regard Yemen as a security risk. This book sets a new standard for scholarship on Yemeni politics, and it is essential reading for anyone interested in the modern Middle East, the 2011 Arab revolts, and 21st century Islamic politics.