June 8th, 2011
09:27 AM ET

Wednesday CFR.org Roundup: Hints of transition in Yemen

The Yemeni regime officially opened a dialogue with the country's main opposition group, the Joint Meeting Party, in what sources describe as an unprecedented political concession (BBC). The decision to negotiate followed a day of mass protests outside the vice president's residence. Vice president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains the country's provisional leader as President Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to recover from serious injuries in Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni opposition (Bloomberg) is pushing the regime to formally acknowledge the transfer of power from Saleh to Hadi in an effort to stoke the transition process and close the door on the president's three-decade rule. In the most recent failed transition deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saleh refused to step down within thirty days and relinquish power to Hadi.

While a fragile ceasefire holds in the capital of Sanaa, hundreds of armed tribesmen have seized parts of Taiz, Yemen's second largest city (CBS) and home to some of the most virulent anti-regime protests. Security officials say government forces managed to stave off an attack on a presidential palace.

The United States, its Western allies, and Saudi Arabia have all called for Saleh to step down and begin an immediate transition of authority. Some analysts suggest a political changeover (Reuters) modeled by the previous Gulf deal is underway, but warn of a possible power struggle between the Hashed tribal federation, breakaway military leaders, Islamic militants, leftists, and youth coalitions.

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Yemen's instability increases, and there is no clear successor to Saleh. Yemen expert Bernard Haykel says the best intermediate political solution would be a national unity council until elections can be held.

In TIME, Jeb Boone writes on the social and political environment surrounding the longest running protest movement in the "Arab Spring."

In this opinion piece for the Yemen Times, Nadia Al-Sakkaf argues against some of the dire predictions for a post-Saleh Yemen - including the rise of al-Qaeda and the general deterioration of the nation's politics.

Yemen could be edging toward civil war, particularly if the military gets involved in both sides of the conflict, says Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen, but the United States has limited ability to influence the outcome in a country that has been an ally in fighting terrorism.

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MIDDLE EAST: Britain, France Push Syria Sanctions

Britain and France drafted a UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions (Guardian) on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the wake of a recent violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, threatening new EU sanctions if the resolution is not approved.

On his CFR blog Pressure Points, Elliott Abrams discusses what kind of Syria might follow the Assad era, arguing that Syrians would turn against extremists like Hamas and Hezbollah.

PACIFIC RIM: Chinese Army Building First Aircraft Carrier

The head of China's General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) confirmed that the country is in the process of reconstructing a Soviet-era carrier (BBC). While the PLA said the move would not pose a threat to other nations, the United States–which maintains bases, ships, and carriers in Asia–expressed concern over these naval aspirations.

North Korea: The government announced plans with China to develop the border island of Hwanggumphyong into a joint economic zone (Yonhap), as North Korea looks to apply China's economic model to its faltering economy.

In an op-ed for Project Syndicate, CFR's A. Michael Spence discusses Asia's new growth model.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA:Afghanistan Faces Financial Crisis

A U.S. congressional report says Afghanistan could face a severe economic crisis in 2014 (al-Jazeera) when foreign troops leave, if aid programs are not restructured to focus on long-term, sustainable development.

India: Activist Anna Hazare is fasting today in Delhi (TimesofIndia) to protest corruption and recent police brutality. Hazare is part of panel that is negotiating with the government to implement tougher anti-corruption laws.

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AFRICA: Food Security Crisis Worsens in Africa

A U.S.agency warned that the eastern Horn of Africa–particularly Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia–is facing the world's worst food crisis (BBC), a result of below-average rainfall over the past two years in the region.

With food prices at historic levels, unrest is mounting around the world, particularly in import-dependent regions such as the Middle East. CFR's Laurie Garrett says to meet demand going forward, countries will need to enhance food production and efficiencies.

Nigeria: Boko Haram, a Muslim group calling for Islamic sharia law in the country's northern Borno State, detonated bombs at two police stations and a church (al-Jazeera) in the city of Maiduguri yesterday, killing eleven.

EUROPE: German Finance Minister Calls for More Greek Aid

In a letter to the European Central Bank, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece is at risk of defaulting on its debt (BBC) if a second European bailout package is not approved.

Germany: The country is facing mounting criticism for itshandling of the E. Coli crisis (Der Spiegel) that has infected thousands, with EU leaders calling on Germany to allow outside experts to help reform its disease control system.

AMERICAS: Obama Links Lagging U.S. Economy to Eurozone Crisis

President Obama said U.S.economic growth depends on theresolution of the European sovereign debt crisis (Reuters),arguing the Greek situation has had negative implications for theU.S. economic recovery.

In the Daily Beast, CFR's Leslie H. Gelb argues that theUnited States can learn a lot from Germany's economic governance model.

Latin America: The World Bank said economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean will slow to 4.5 percent this year (Bloomberg), with Peru growing the most at 6.9 percent.

Ollanta Humala's victory in Peru's presidential election should mean continued solid relations with the United States and is an opportunity to further prove that moderate leftism is the consensus model for Latin American politics, says expert Michael Shifter.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Yemen

soundoff (One Response)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Maybe the reunificaton of North and South Yemen 1990 was a mistake. Twenty years later the north/south divide still poses tribal and social tensions. As a peaceful coexistence is impossible and the unity of the country seems to be more a curse than a blessing, the country might be better off, if it were split into north/south or east/west, taking the tribal and demographic particularities into account.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm |

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