Yemen Food Shortages Worsen, Political Turmoil Culprit, Obama Hails Yemen as Success Story

Yemen Food Shortages Worsen, Political Turmoil Culprit, Obama Hails Yemen as Success Story


ABU DHABI (Reuters) – An escalation of political turmoil in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, risks aggravating an already dire food security situation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday.

Shi’ite Muslim rebels seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa this month, prompting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to warn of a drift towards civil war in a country long riven by deep political, religious and tribal divisions.

One in four Yemenis is undernourished and more than half of Yemen’s 25 million people are ‘food insecure’, that is lacking access to sufficient food for their needs, FAO regional coordinator Ad Spijkers told a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

With a high proportion of the population living off the land and some 90 percent of Yemen’s water resources being used in agriculture, people are especially vulnerable when conflicts disrupt farm production, FAO officials said.

“In every effort to improve food security and nutrition you need stability and in Yemen two thirds of the population depend on agriculture,” said Spijkers.

“So if people are displaced and they can’t grow food for their own families then there is a very severe situation.”

Compounding Yemen’s plight, nearly half of its irrigation water goes to growing qat, a narcotic leaf that fetches a high price on local markets, rather than to growing staple crops. Read More:


Rather Bizarrely President Obama recently signaled out Yemen as a success story for his policies, during his ISIS/ISIL Speech.

— For roughly two years, the Obama administration has hailed Yemen as a rare U.S. success story in the Middle East. The internationally brokered transition from the longtime rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the current government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was cast as a post-Arab Spring model.

The United States’ cooperation with Hadi on counterterrorism matters, including drone strikes, was portrayed as a bilateral triumph. Despite increasing signs of trouble, the U.S. government stuck to the narrative; as recently as Sept. 10, President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a success in his speech explaining his plans for “degrading” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Over the weekend, however, the growing gap between administration rhetoric and reality came to a head, as the acerbically anti-American Houthi rebels _ who American diplomats allege have close financial and military ties with Iran _ took control of many areas of the capital, Sanaa, with minimal resistance from the U.S.-supplied Yemeni armed forces.

In the context of Yemen’s politics, the weekend’s events are earth-shattering to the point that their ultimate significance cannot yet truly be understood.

As negotiations faltered, violence broke out as Houthi fighters clashed with Yemeni troops, the bulk of whom appear to have been followers of Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen, a powerful military leader allied with the Islamist Islah party who turned against Saleh in 2011.

By the time a peace agreement was signed Sunday evening, the general’s forces had been routed, buildings across the capital were in ruins, and banners bearing the Houthis’ slogan, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory to Islam,” were hung from a number of government buildings _ even as the fighters turned control of many of the buildings over to “neutral” branches of the Yemeni armed forces. Read More:

It is not easy to understand why Obama sees Yemen as a success for his policies, unless he is pleased with the developments that most see as a disaster for American interests and safety.  It is also seen as a disaster for Yemen’s people, unless the are extreme Islamists.



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