In November 2006, Yemen walked away from a two-day donor conference in London with $4.7 billion in pledges over the next four years. The conference was a necessity for Yemen, an extremely poor country with a dire economic outlook for the coming decade.
In an ironic turn of events, Yemen's September 20 presidential and local elections garnered extensive favorable coverage by the normally critical Al Jazeera, while they received only scant attention from the U.S. government, heretofore eager to highlight any sign of reform in Arab states.
Yemen's presidential and local elections are scheduled simultaneously for September 20, and many locals expect them to be the country's most contentious yet. Despite the practical certainty that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will keep his job, Yemen's precarious political and economic situation means that there is still plenty for the opposition to fight for.
In the Arab world, what UN literature calls national human rights institutions (NHRIs) have emerged in recent years. A few of them—for example in Morocco and Palestine—have attained a degree of autonomy in confronting governments.
It often takes a crisis to rivet our collective attention on problems such as those facing Yemen, a society that seems to be perpetually on the verge of collapse.
As troubling as security issues are in Yemen, they are by no means the only threats to stability. Problems in the economy, institution building, and regional disputes might not grab headlines the way that terrorism and other security challenges do, but they are just as important.