Yemen , officially known as the Republic of Yemen is an Arab country in Southwest Asia, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is the second largest country in the peninsula, occupying . The coastline stretches for about . It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to the south, and Oman to the east. Its capital and largest city is Sana'a. Yemen's territory includes more than 200 islands, the largest of these is Socotra.
Yemen was home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba), a trading state that flourished for over a thousand years and probably also included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 275 AD, the region came under the rule of the later Jewish influenced Himyarite Kingdom. Christianity arrived in the 4th century AD whereas Judaism and local Paganism was already established. Islam spread quickly in the 7th century and Yemenite troops were crucial in the expansion of the early Islamic conquests. Administration of Yemen has long been notoriously difficult. Several dynasties emerged from the 9th to 16th century, the Rasulid being the strongest and most prosperous. The country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early 20th century. The Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was established after World War I in North Yemen before the creation of Yemen Arab Republic in 1962. South Yemen remained a British protectorate until 1967. The two Yemeni states united to form the modern republic of Yemen in 1990.
Yemen is a developing country. Under the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen was described as a kleptocracy. According to the 2009 international corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Yemen ranked 164 out of 182 countries surveyed. In the absence of strong state institutions, elite politics in Yemen constituted a de facto form of collaborative governance, where competing tribal, regional, religious and political interests agreed to hold themselves in check through tacit acceptance of the balance it produced. The informal political settlement was held together by a power sharing deal between three men: president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who controlled the
‘state’; major general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who controlled the largest share of the army; and sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, figurehead of the Islamist Islah party and Saudi Arabia’s chosen broker of transnational patronage payments to various political players, including tribal sheikhs.
In January 2011, a series of street protests began against poverty, unemployment, corruption and president Saleh's plan to amend Yemen's constitution and eliminate presidential term limit, in effect making him president for life. He was also grooming his eldest son Ahmed Saleh, the commander of the Republican Guard, to succeed him. The United States considers AQAP to be the "most dangerous of all the franchises of Al-Qaeda". The U.S sought a controlled transition that would enable their counter-terrorism operations to continue, while Saudi Arabia’s main concern was to maintain its influence in Yemen through some old regime figures and other tribal leaders who were part of the so called "GCC initiative". Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power to his vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and was granted immunity from prosecution.
President Hadi's term was extended for another year in order to appoint and monitor two committees: one to choose between two federal regions (North and South) or six, and the other one to draft a new constitution. The committees are expected to finish their assignments by January 2015. In 2014, Yemen experienced unrest which led to Houthi militias taking over Sana'a and the signing of a Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA) which established a new unity government including a variety of Yemeni factions.