Months of protests in Yemen against the government and President Saleh have gained in strength. Many people have been killed and wounded by police, military and pro-Saleh forces, but the demonstrators have succeeding in isolating the President as leading generals and clan leaders turn against him.

Yemen has an unemployment rate of 40%, with 45% of its nearly 20 million people living on $2 a day or less. Recent months of sharp rises in food prices have magnified the poverty suffered in the country. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 32% of Yemenis lack access to sufficient food and around 58% of all children are malnourished. The UN ranks Yemen with the lowest Human Development Index of any Arab country. Illiteracy exceeds 50%.

Saleh has been an ally of the US in its campaign against Al Qaida, receiving military aid and hosting US drones. Britain provides SAS troops working as mentors to Yemeni forces in strike operations and interrogation techniques.

Yemen’s strategic importance for imperialism is determined by its bordering of Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, and the Bab Al Mandab strait, through which 3 million barrels of oil pass every day. Imperialism has ties to the dissenting generals and will hope that they can contain the revolt.

Anthony Rupert

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011


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