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Yemen’s new boss is same as the old boss

This article is over 9 years, 10 months old
Alistair Wingate, who recently travelled to Yemen, reports on the political situation there
Issue 2292

Last week saw the fraudulent election of Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi as president of Yemen.

Hadi claims to have won 99 percent of the vote in an election in which he was the only candidate.

Hadi has been endorsed by the US and neighbouring Arab rulers. He offers little hope for change in Yemen or the wider region.

The previous president was Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key ally of the US and Saudi Arabia. He was targeted by a mass movement that spread over Yemen last year as part of the “Arab Spring” of uprisings across the region.

Saleh was forced to step down, but under an agreement brokered by the US and the Gulf Arab states.

This treaty gave Saleh immunity from prosecution and allowed his party and regime to stay in place. It has provoked anger across Yemen.

Saleh kept his grip on power for 33 years. Senior government circles are peppered with his family and cronies.

There is widespread corruption and repression as well as deep poverty and unemployment.

Saleh seized control of previously independent South Yemen in a 1994 war. He has occupied the region ever since, exploiting people, land and resources in a complex of national and international intrigue.

Saleh has received weapons and aid from the US. He has allowed US drone attacks on villages in the Abyan area of South Yemen, killing many civilians.

Hadi was Saleh’s vice president. His election is a continuation of the old regime.

The election has been largely boycotted in South Yemen and in sections of the north.

Saleh was wounded in an attack in his palace last year and is returning to Yemen after receiving medical treatment in New York.

While there he enjoyed a luxury stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, drawing angry protests from the Yemenis in the US.

Regime tanks and soldiers attacked and killed protesters last weekend the port city of Aden—historically one of Yemen’s major revolutionary flashpoints.

Aden has seen mass demonstrations, street blockades, strikes and other civil disobedience recently.

In one incident we witnessed students expelling their school head teacher, an unpopular man linked to the Saleh regime.

They accused him of trying to sell the school off and forced authorities to reinstate the previous well-liked head.

Independence for the South is a key slogan for street protest, though workplace action taken focuses more on pay, conditions and ousting crooked regime-backed bosses.

Mass action across Yemen created the crisis that ousted Saleh. Deepening this mass action is the key to ending his regime and the US’s deadly grip on the country.

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