Economy, energy and environment
In addition to being an underdeveloped country from a social point of view and with a strictly closed political system, Yemen also has the lowest per capita GDP in the entire Middle East area.
The economic system is composed of an underdeveloped industrial sector and an agricultural sector which continues to be one of the main sources of employment for a part of the population. The productions of coffee, cotton and kat cover a significant portion of the total.
One of the weak points of the economic structure is constituted by the strong dependence on the production and export of oil which, among other things, is in the process of being depleted. While oil currently still accounts for around 90% of Yemen’s exports and more than 70% of government revenues, production appears to be in sharp decline. Its exhaustion, within a few years, would cause a very serious deficit.
Yemen also has a very high unemployment rate, around 17%, and very high structural inflation. Tourism could represent an important tool to combat the economic crisis, as the country is rich in architectural and archaeological beauties and has four sites declared world heritage sites by Unesco. However, poor security, kidnappings against tourists, civil war and frequent attacks have prevented the development of the sector and reduce the possibility of attracting investments.
Thanks to oil production, according to indexdotcom, Yemen is still an energy independent country. Autonomy is limited, however, almost exclusively to oil, which accounts for 88% of the energy mix. The first natural gas liquefaction plant was inaugurated in 2009 as part of the economic and energy diversification objectives, but production is still low. Exports of hydrocarbons are directed almost exclusively to Asia, especially to the markets of China, Thailand, India and South Korea. Equally serious is the problem of the scarcity of water resources. Access to drinking water is limited and the per capita share is insufficient: this makes the country at risk also from an environmental point of view. Yemen is also among the last in the world for extension of protected areas,
Defense and security
Following the worsening of the internal crisis and the Saudi-led external intervention, today Yemen appears as one of the most unstable countries in the world. In the aftermath of the resumption of civil war between government forces and southern separatist militias, tensions between north and south in 2008 again took on the tone of an armed confrontation, fueled by the backward conditions in southern Yemen and frequent anti-regime demonstrations..
The infiltration of groups linked to the al-Qaida galaxy nebula has fueled the clash between the center and the periphery. International terrorism of Islamic origin has been able to exploit the lack of territorial control by the government of Sana’a to establish its logistical bases in the south and east of the country. The phenomenon has become so marked that, in 2009, the birth of a new cell of the organization based in Yemen, called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), was officially recognized. The presence of al-Qaida actually dates back to before 11 September 2001, as evidenced by one of the most serious terrorist attacks against the Americans: the one against the destroyer UssCole, which occurred in the port of Aden on 12 October 2000 and killed 17 marines. Aqap continues to hit strategic energy and security targets across the country, albeit not directly linked to the United States. The organization is so deeply rooted and present in the territory that it controls most of the strategic outposts of Hadramawt, including the port city of Mukalla overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Equally dangerous proved to be the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State (IS), the Province of Sana’a, established in the second half of 2014 and officially affiliated with IS in November of the same year. During the spring-summer of 2015, the group carried out some major and lethal attacks on some Shia mosques in Sana’a, causing several hundred deaths and entering directly into open competition with Aqap. Although it is still far from the same operational capabilities of the Qaidist antagonist, the military growth of the group could pose a further factor of instability in the already intricate and vulnerable Yemeni security framework in the medium term.
In addition to the threats deriving from terrorism, secessionism and clan-tribal violence, Yemen must face the ever-serious phenomenon of piracy. Although the attacks have decreased over the last few years, the Yemeni and Horn of Africa coasts are historically the main strongholds of the phenomenon. In an attempt to contain this threat, the joint naval counter-piracy mission undertaken by the EU has met with partial success.with Russia, Iran and the Gulf monarchies, all potentially threatened in their commercial interests by the pirate phenomenon. Alongside military cooperation agreements with these countries, Sana’a has maintained close ties in the security field, especially with Saudi Arabia, with which it shares both concerns about Shiite guerrillas and Islamist terrorism. Finally, the military partnership with the United States is of particular importance: in the context of the fight against international terrorism, the government of Sana’a sided with Washington, which in turn supported the regime of the legitimate President Hadi against all local forces. and trans-regional ones likely to destabilize the country.