Laureate Lights: What do you know about Yemen?

For the third and final post in our series about Nobel Peace Prize Winner (and 2013 Forum speaker!) Tawakkol Karman, we’ve collected some information about the country of Yemen and the unrest experienced there over the past year.

Yemen is a small country occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east. It is the only state in the Arabian Peninsula to have a purely republican form of government and was the first country in the Arabian peninsula to grant women the right to vote. The majority of Yemen’s population is divided into tribal groups, especially in the northern areas of the country where 85% of local residents belong to various tribes. (Source: Wikipedia)

Photo credit: Sallam via Wikipedia

The country has experienced several periods of unrest over the past century. Most recently, in early 2011, protests began as part of the broader Arab Spring movement, which resulted in the eventual ouster of President Saleh. The BBC succinctly summarized these events in its online Yemen timeline, some of which we’ve pasted below. Throughout this period, Tawwakol Karman led a number of important actions which are described in detail on her Wikipedia page.

2011 March
Pro-reform demonstrations continue. Police snipers open fire on pro-democracy camp in Sanaa, killing more than 50 people.

Senior military figures including key general, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, declare their backing for protest movement. Several ministers and other senior regime figures also defect to protesters.

Anti-government protesters took to the streets, inspired by successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt

President Saleh says unrest risks plunging country into civil war. State of emergency is imposed.

2011 April
Unrest and violent government response continue. President Saleh vows to remain in office.

2011 May
Dozens die in clashes between troops and tribal fighters in Sanaa. Airport shuts and thousands flee the city.

2011 June
President Saleh is injured in a rocket attack and is flown to Saudi Arabia.

2011 September
President Saleh returns home.

US-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki is assassinated by US forces.

2011 October
Yemeni human rights activist Tawakul Karman wins Nobel Peace Prize, together with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia.

UN Security Council passes resolution condemning violence, calls for transfer of power.

2011 November
President Saleh agrees to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who takes office at uncontested presidential elections in February.

Unity government – including a prime minister from the opposition – is formed.

2012 January
President Saleh leaves country. Parliament grants him full immunity in the face of objections from thousands of street protesters.

2012 February
Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi inaugurated as president after uncontested elections.

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