The war in Yemen has greatly affected migration and refugee movements from and to the Horn of Africa, but not in the way one would expect. Instead of a large number of Yemenis fleeing the country because of war, violence and the horrific humanitarian situation, relatively few have left. Yet, an astonishing number of migrants from the Horn has entered Yemen since the outbreak of the 2015 war.
Four years of war in Yemen have not only devastated the poorest country of the MENA region, but they have also generated new transnational layers of instability affecting the Arabian Peninsula and its neighbourhood.
Soqotra is a place apart. An isolated island located in the middle of the Arabian Sea roughly between mainland Yemen and Somalia, Soqotra boasts an almost antediluvian landscape. Much of its vegetation and wildlife is found nowhere else on earth, while its natives speak an ancient language that’s also unique to the island. While other areas of Yemen have been wracked by conflict, irrevocably changed over the last four years of war, standing in Soqotra’s beaches or rock-hewn valleys, the conflict on the mainland could scarcely feel further away.
The Yemeni province of Mahra, on the border with Oman, has not been reached by the war so far. However, Saudi Arabia – as Oman used to do to defend its influence – has started to support a large number of Mahari tribes. This has led to large community divisions in local tribal society, for the first time in the history of this eastern province. This support is not limited to the financial domain but also extends to the military.
More than other countries, Yemen is about permeable boundaries, human connections and ideological contaminations. Nevertheless, Yemen has been widely investigated as an unicum detached from the neighbouring Gulf monarchies, although sharing with them ties and similarities. But the civil conflict, begun in 2015, has triggered dynamics of transnational instability at the forefront: this affects the Arabian Peninsula and its neighbourhoods as a whole, transcending Yemen’s borders and thus requiring holistic lenses of study.
The Palermo conference in mid-November seemed to have brought the UN back to the center of the Libyan crisis. Its greatest merit was that it set a clearer timetable for the various electoral deadlines. A few months later, however, we can say that this new promising phase has been followed by yet another disillusionment.
Following the parliamentary election in May 2018 and after 9 months of negotiations, designated Prime Minister Saad Hariri was able to form a government in Lebanon. Although it appears to be a national unity government, bringing together almost all political factions in the country, the formation process received a lot of criticism, as it was considered a break from custom and was eventually perceived as Hezbollah's government in many Western circles.
January 25th marks the 8th anniversary of the popular protests that brought an end to Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime. At the turn of 2011, almost three decades of worsening economic conditions, restriction of political space and gross abuses of human rights had left Egyptians – literally – hungry for change. However, eight years after the beginning of the 18 days that brought a country together and toppled a dictator, it seems like the cries for “bread, freedom and human dignity” have long been forgotten.
Almost seven years have now passed since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, which has given rise to a situation of “organised chaos” in Libya. Leaders change, alliances change, but state institutions remain weak, confined to a small part of the region and sometimes divided between the Eastern and Western parts of the country, while sub-national affiliations continue to prevail over and prevent the rebuilding of a new legitimacy and national identity.