What Does Eastern Yemen Want and What Is It Doing About It? The Voice of al-Mahra

By Elisabeth Kendall
Submitted to Session P4744 (The South in the Yemeni Conflict, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Yemen’s eastern-most governorate of al-Mahra was a part of the former South Yemen. But how does this vast and marginalised region of Yemen actually envisage its political future? Attitudes inside al-Mahra are complex and strained with both neighbouring Hadramawt and with the broader notion of a new South Yemen. This presentation addresses three main questions. First, why is Yemen’s vast but sparsely populated eastern-most region – neglected both academically and politically – important? Second, what do survey data collected in 2012-13 tell us about Mahri political aspirations? Third, what organisational initiatives have Mahris developed over the past three years to start addressing their concerns for the future? Recent initiatives, especially among youth and women, have been generated largely by internal pressures and arisen instinctively - without the catalyst of social media or the intervention of international NGOs. These initiatives have significance both as potential models for other sidelined regions of Yemen and as mechanisms for grass-roots engagement to stabilise communities and counter violent extremism.