The Arab Spring in Yemen
The Arab Spring did not bypass Yemen. As became clear later on, it triggered a chain of events leading to cardinal changes in the country’s destiny. It would be wrong, however, to call the 2011 turmoil a revolution, since it failed to bring about a fundamental social and political transformation. This was achieved later, in 2014–2015, when a vigorous social protest was accompanied by an outburst of tribalism as the Shiite Houthi movement dared to challenge the long-standing domination of powerful traditional clans. President Saleh, who had risen to power as the leader of those clans, lost his position but kept trying to ensure a comeback. In a completely new and surprising configuration of forces, Saleh made an alliance with the Houthis, who succeeded in quickly overrunning most of the country. These events, unlike the 2011 events, can be branded a genuine revolution. The situation was aggravated by the increased activity of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the separatist movement in the South. As the Houthis appeared to be winning, Saudi Arabia began a large-scale military intervention aimed at preventing Yemen from becoming a Shia-dominated state and possibly an Iranian stooge. As a result of the Saudi air bombardment, a serious international conflict developed that is still unresolved.