ancient history of Yemen is filled with conflict and countless examples of conflict resolution, some successful but many disastrously unsuccessful. The country has been divided and reformed, the subject of colonization, the victim of several complete governmental takeovers and last but not least the victim of bloody civil war, in both North and South Yemen's as they were then recognized and in a unified Yemen, associated with an Arab League sponsored reunification and peace treaty. In this process of nation building and strife at least since its inception the Arab League, and most notably its moderate modern conception has been a foundational aspect of conflict resolution in Yemen, as well as many other Middle East and North African nations. The conflicts in Yemen, arising from a historically challenged social and political network are frequently addressed by the Arab League in an attempt to make the international community understand the unsuspecting role it may play in the growth of Islamic extremism, as a result of political and economic instability.
Economic conditions in Yemen have gone from bad to worse in recent years. Economic growth is not keeping up with the rise in population. The population growth rate is estimated to be as high as 3.6% annually, while the economic growth rate fell below 3.6% last year and might not exceed 3.3% in 2004.Forty-two percent of the Yemenis live in poverty, and it is estimated that as many as 40% of the Yemenis are out of work. Earlier this year, the Arab League reported that Yemen remains the poorest country in the Middle East, with average income per capita at $508 a year."
The nation is arguably still very much in turmoil and the Arab League continues to advocate in its name, as it welcomes conversations and communications with other international peace organizations and governments to rally behind Yemen to foster stabilization of the region. This work will discuss the different roles, over time that the Arab League has had in the resolution of conflict in Yemen almost from its inception as a regional force, 1948 to the current.
About the Arab League
The formation of the Arab League, was cemented with a meeting of seven nations, who all signed a pact, in Cairo Egypt on March 22, 1945. The seven founding nations of the Arab League were Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, and Yemen. In the time since this founding date the League, just like many other organizations in the region has had many sets of goals, ranging from the most extreme, creating a pan-Arabic nation from all the states in the region to its more modern and moderate take, respecting the governance and borders of all nations while trying to keep the region stable and free of conflict. According to literature about the Arab League its original purpose was to create a confederation of states that would attempt to ensure the political and economic stability of the whole of the region.
The general purpose of the loose confederation was the political and economic stability of the Arab world. A central council was to handle the affairs of the group with each member state having one vote. A secretariat was established in Cairo and 'Abd-al-Rahman' Azzam, an Egyptian, was appointed its first secretary general.
The Arab League, despite its many ups and downs has remained a relatively constant force for change in the Middle East and as its goals are frequently similar to other international organizations, even Western ones it is frequently called upon to help conduct talks and facilitate stability in the region. One of its most vital functions is to serve as a research organization, to make the Arab world and the broader international community more knowledgeable of the circumstances being faced by other Arab nations, such as Yemen and other troubled states in the region as well as how Arab cultural enclaves fair in other nations.
According to the sources the Arab League had a difficult time achieving cohesion and early success as a result of divergent interests among nations but became more successful through growth and moderation, as it came together to level out its mission and make it more inclusive of new nation members and less restricted to one vocal nation state's desires, namely Egypt. "...as Arab nations gained their independence. Libya joined in 1953, followed by Sudan (1956), Morocco and Tunisia (1958), Kuwait (1961), Algeria (1962) and the People's Republic of South Yemen (1968)...." Another cementing force in the Arab League has been the countless times that the league has devoted time and resources through collective member nations to fight for common causes, such as the occupation of Palestine by Israel. In 1948 the League led forces into the Israeli war of Independence, fighting against Israel and the showing again divided the organization but cemented a cohesive social and political cause for the region. Subsequent periods of the League's history reflect the diversity of the regions nation states, despite inclusion as members as well as divergent political ideologies and plans for the region, on the part of those same nations' governments. In short, the League overcame a great deal of conflict to remain a voice in the region, and this is in part due to its successful interventions in Yemen to restore order there during many conflicts.
It is clear though, that the Arab League has not always been successful in its bids to stabilize, even in Yemen as it took many years for the organization to develop accord over the Yemeni Civil war.
When civil war broke out in Yemen in 1962, the League proved helpless to stop it or to prevent its members (Saudi Arabia and Egypt) from becoming individually involved. Numerous summit conferences were called, but after 1969, these meetings were postponed more often than held. By the end of 1967, Arab leaders around the world were openly critical of the League for its lack of effective leadership during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In areas of lesser importance, such as Arab studies in the humanities and some of its economic planning, the League was more effective.
The League had in many ways become a force for change on a much less political scale, over its many years of trying often unsuccessfully to impress upon its member nations their similarities rather than their vast political differences. Yet the cause of Yemen never left the organization's agendas and they as a group watched and waited for the correct time to intervene during the different situations of strife there. "In 1972, the League was able to conclude a cease-fire between the two Yemens.... On 2 July 1978, the League voted to boycott South Yemen and its newly established pro-Marxist government." more detailed look at the split between North and South Yemen can be seen through a detailed account of the nation's divergent factions.
Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSY).On 26 September 1972, South Yemen rebels belonging to FLOSY supported by members of the South Arab League and tribesmen from North Yemen (San'a) attacked al-Dali (Dhala) on the North Yemen-South Yemen border. FLOSY had been banned in the Marxist People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) (PDRY). The September attack led to a general border war between the PDRY and the Yemen"
North Yemen on the other hand had differing political and social goals, than did the Marxist regime of the south. "Arab Republic (North Yemen). By November an Arab League mediation council was able to end the fighting (13 October) and to reach a union agreement between the two Yemens (28 November)."
One of the most important factors in the discussion of Yemen and the influence of the Arab League over the years is that for the majority of Yemeni history Yemen was divided, as a result of internal and colonial interests, between the North and South and to a large degree each of the two had separate social and political histories, as well as a divergent history with regard to the influence of the League in conflict and resolution. Yet, as a testament of action the ultimate goal, regardless of the differing histories, on the part of the Arab League was unification, which was almost achieved, and then achieved and dissolved and eventually, again with the assistance of the League achieved again, and this time hopefully to stay.
Yemen as a founding member of the Arab League has evolved with it, just as it has evolved as a nation. The nation has a conflict ridden history, already touched upon in earlier statements but more easily understood in the form of this country profile in An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996. In many ways the modern history of Yemen can be seen as an overlapping or interlacing history of the evolution of the Arab League, through its various incarnations and from its subverted political control by varied national interest to an independent organization that has the whole of the diverse region in mind while…