The surprising alliance that explains Yemen’s political collapse

Peter Salisbury writes: Twelve months ago, Yemeni interim president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stood in front of foreign diplomats and political grandees at Sanaa’s Republican Palace. He declared his country’s political transition to democracy an “unprecedented success.”

In 2011, Yemen’s Arab Spring had threatened to push the country into a debilitating conflict. But remarkably, a deal brokered by the United Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council prevented a bloody civil war. Longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down; Hadi was tasked with overseeing peace talks and the creation of a new constitution.

Initially, these talks went surprisingly well. After decades of instability, a stable, peaceful democracy seemed possible if not probable. Yemen became the last glimmer of hope for Arab countries that had suffered through 2011′s roiling unrest. As Danya Greenfield of the Atlantic Council wrote, achieving consensus of any kind after such an acrimonious period was a “remarkable achievement.”

Today, no one is hopeful. The much-vaunted “Yemen model” for political transition, once mooted as a possible solution for Iraq, Libya and Syria, has been broken beyond repair. [Continue reading…]

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