A Closer Look At Yemen, Post-Arab Spring08:55

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A farmer and his donkey plow a field on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, May 8, 2013. (Hani Mohammed/AP)
A farmer and his donkey plow a field on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, May 8, 2013. (Hani Mohammed/AP)

Observers say Yemen is managing its post-Arab Spring transition better than its neighbors.

That's impressive, considering that it's the poorest country in the Arab world, with one-third of its people undernourished. It's also one of the world's driest countries.

On American minds is the threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But what's on Yemeni minds?

Yemen expert Charles Schmitz just returned from the country and joined Here & Now for a conversation about how Yemen is doing.

Interview Highlights: Charles Schmitz

A history of overcoming crises

"Yemen is famous actually, for kind of muddling through. They have been through severe crises. They had in the 1960s a civil war in the north. Then they had the country divided into two in the Cold War period. They faced some very severe crises, but they tend to be able to — in spite of all odds — negotiate through, drawing upon their experience in negotiation to get through these things. And despite all odds again, the opposing forces within Yemen seem to be completely obstinate and not moving at all and facing very difficult problems. The Yemenis do have a history of being able to get through these things."

Yemenis at work around the world

"Yemen has traditionally been a labor export country. There are Yemenis in Detroit. There are Yemenis in California that came during the 1920s. Yemenis are all over Southeast Asia, they're all over east Africa as well. Yemenis also built Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and 1980s when all of the OPEC oil money came into Saudi Arabia. Yemenis are very hard working and they very much take advantage of opportunities that open for them. The biggest one in that regard would be to move into the Gulf states again. After 1990 they were forced out of the Gulf states — Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. It would be very good for Yemen if they could get back into the Gulf states again in order to relieve some of the unemployment problems in Yemen and to bring more income into Yemen."

Legal marriage age of 9 for females

"This is a big political issue. The former president tried to raise that to 14 and then he was opposed by some of the Islamic political movements. And this is a political football that's played back and forth between the Islamic parties and those who oppose the Islamic parties."


This segment aired on August 8, 2013.

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