Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/14/2014 -- Yemen is suffering from ongoing political instability, armed insurgencies and both criminal and jihadi activities within its borders. Although some progress has recently been achieved in Yemen's National Reconciliation Conference, very significant hurdles remain, including the desire of many in the South to form an independent state. We believe that a general election, scheduled to take place in February 2014, will not be held until Q214 at the earliest. Overall, the future of Yemen is of great importance for the Middle East. Yemen's position next to Saudi Arabia means the kingdom is greatly concerned with instability spreading to its own territory. In addition, Yemen has emerged as a safe haven for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has masterminded several failed terror attacks against the West. Furthermore, as Yemen borders the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, any chaos in the country could boost piracy in these waters, which has already surged as a result of lawlessness in nearby Somalia.
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This year has seen several serious upsurges in violence, primarily from Islamist groups and criminal gangs. These include:
- A mass-casualty terrorist attack at a Ministry of Defence building in the capital in early December 2013.
- A suspected US drone attack which killed 12 civilians in December 2013.
- Kidnapping attempts, the latest of which has seen saw a Japanese diplomat stabbed, again in December 2013.
These are clearly unsettled times for Yemen. President Hadi has much to do before his country can make the transition to a stable democracy. Yemen's reliance on oil exports is something of an Achilles heel as fluctuating international prices could curtail defence spending; the industry's physical infrastructure also provides a target for Houthi rebels in the north and jihadis of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terror network.
Despite Hadi's moves to reform the country's military, and remove many of its top positions being occupied by relatives of Saleh still loyal to the old regime, Yemen still relies heavily on outside powers for security needs. The United States' military aid to Yemen was over US$250 million in 2013. The US' increasing use of drone attacks against militants has lead to civilian casualties - something which makes the task of creating national unity even more difficult for President Hadi.
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