Editor's note: Reports are starting to come in of increased death tolls amid clashes between Shiite protesters and police in Sanaa, Yemen. As the toll appears to be fluctuating from outlet to outlet, we are waiting for a firmer characterization from medical officials in the area. - Aaron
Yemen /ˈjɛmən/ (Arabic: اليَمَن al-Yaman), officially known as the Republic of Yemen (Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية al-Jumhūriyyah al-Yamaniyyah), 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 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi). The coastline stretches for about 2,000 km (1,200 mi). 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 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. Yemen's economy is underdeveloped because Yemen underwent 11 civil wars and Yemen has limited natural resources. 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 January 2011, a series of street protests began against poverty, unemployment, corruption and against President Saleh. The street protests gradually resulted in the resignation of President Saleh, thus Yemen underwent its first revolution in 2011.
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. Saleh handed over power to his vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and was granted immunity from prosecution. A National Dialogue Conference was launched on 18 March 2012 to reach consensus on major issues facing the country's future. The closing ceremony was held on 25 January 2014. Yemen will become a multi-region federal republic. 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.