It has been five years this week since thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yemen’s capital Sanaa to demand a change of regime, and to call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
Inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, protests continued for months. The uprising eventually succeeded, but the events that followed have resulted in an even more fractured country, torn apart by war.
Saleh had ruled Yemen for more than 32 years and, during that time, few people shared the country’s modest oil wealth. When he finally stepped down in February 2012, he fled to Saudi Arabia, a long time ally, where he proceeded to plan his eventual return to Yemen.
However, Saleh’s powerful family members remained in Yemen, retaining many key positions in government as well as in the armed forces.
The new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a former deputy of Saleh, faced bitter political divisions and sectarian tensions. In addition to al-Qaeda’s threat in the south east of the country, Hadi’s government also had to contend with Houthi rebels, who took control of Sanaa in September 2014.
Initially, the rebels demanded an end to corruption and inflation but eventually they forced out the elected government, arresting Hadi and forcing him into exile in Saudi Arabia. There, an international coalition was formed to counter the Houthis, and, as Saudi Arabia put it, to counter the Iran-backed Shia fighters in Yemen.
In the meantime, Saleh returned to Yemen and formed an alliance with the Houthis.
That was ten months ago and, since then, nearly 6,000 people have been killed and much of the infrastructure, including the international airport in the capital, has been reduced to rubble.
A blockade to cut Houthis’ weapons supplies has also caused an acute shortage of fuel and medicine and, according to the United Nations, 80 percent of Yemen’s population now requires humanitarian assistance – that is more than 21 million people.
As the country enters the sixth year since its citizens began to demand for their rights, it has now come down to a daily battle for survival.
- Pray for Yemen. Pray for a peaceful solution to the political fighting and an end to hostilities.
- Pray for the people of Yemen, so many of whom are struggling day to day to survive. Pray for aid to be allowed into the country, and to reach those who are most in need.
- Pray for the future of Yemen, for hope and healing for this nation. Pray for many to encounter Christ, and for a life-giving move of the Holy Spirit across this nation.
Psalm 2 vs 8: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”