Yemen Split in Two

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Date Submitted: 09/27/2011 12:10 PM

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Yemen Split in Two

Yemen is in a state of chaos. Its government faces the threat of rebels in the north, secessionists in the south, and groups of Al Qaeda operating within its borders. Overshadowing Yemen’s troubles is the prospect of secession. In 2007 the South Yemen Movement began. It’s the second attempt in the last 16 years to gain independence from the north. If Yemen is divided it would destabilize the region and create an environment in which terrorism can prosper.

Foreshadowing the current events in Yemen is its troubled history. Ishaan Tharoor did a piece for Time chronicling Yemen’s history. For most of the 19th century Yemen was divided into two countries. The Yemen Arab Republic in the north was independently ruled. The South was a British protectorate until they withdrew in 1967. In 1970 a Marxist Regime took over and the South became The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. Tharoor writes that it was the only Marxist regime in the Arabian Peninsula and was backed by the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union south Yemen lost much of its economic support. The Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen united in 1990. Ali Abdullah Seleh who had ruled the North became president of the newly united Yemen. The first few years were filled with much political tension, which culminated into a civil war. In 1994 the South made its first attempt to secede by starting an armed revolt. President Ali Abdullah Seleh enlisted the help of Jihadists whom many believe had ties to Al Qaeda to help squelch the rebellion (A Brief History of Yemen). The North quickly suppressed the uprising and disbanded many in the military. In the last few years the South has been voicing their dissent and calling for another attempt at secession.

The people of the secession movement feel as though they have been taken advantage of and abused by the Northerners. As the secession movement picks up pace the government cracks down...