A question I have been contemplating much of the day is, “Is Yemen ripe for a revolution?” The crisis in Yemen has been in the news as the Saudi-led coalition has launched airstrikes in the country and imposed a naval blockade in support of the deposed Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The objective conditions of the crisis in Yemen and of Western imperialism’s frantic reaction remind me somewhat of the conditions of Czarist Russia before the 1917 revolution, an underdeveloped appendage of imperialism, and of a passage in Lenin’s pamphlet Left-Wing Communism:
“The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realize the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters). It follows that, for a revolution to take place, it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, and politically active workers) should fully realize that revolution is necessary, and that they should be prepared to die for it; second, that the ruling classes should be going through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (symptomatic of any genuine revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundredfold increase in the size of the working and oppressed masses—hitherto apathetic—who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government, and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to rapidly overthrow it.”
Yemen earlier went through a revolution in 2011, when tens of thousands of working people demonstrated against unemployment, corruption, and a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the despised former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to remain in power for life. Saleh was widely seen as an instrument of Western imperialism, having been a faithful ally in the U.S.-led ‘War on Terror’, and in Yemen more than a thousand people have been killed, including American citizens, by U.S. drone strikes, causing public outrage. The state security services responded to the demonstrations with force, shooting dead dozens of protestors, sparking an armed conflict that overthrew the Saleh regime. The regime was replaced by Saleh’s Vice-President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi in a transition approved by the reactionary, undemocratic Gulf Cooperation Council.
The new regime continued many of the same policies as the previous, abolishing fuel subsidies to the already desperately impoverished population, reneging on previous promises of sharing political power, and remaining a faithful ally of Western imperialism, causing a new wave of unrest in the country. Hadi was forced to resign and feel the capital as rebels occupied the city and established a new government under the rebel commander Mohammed Ali al-Houthi.
The fall of Hadi was a major setback for Western imperialism; 3.8 million barrels of oil a day pass through the strait of Bab el-Mandeb, making it the fourth largest waterway in the world. Western imperialism threw itself at Yemen, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, France, the U.K., etc.. either launching airstrikes in the country, killing dozens of people, or providing logistical support for the deposed Hadi regime.
Will Yemen prove to be the weakest link in the chain of imperialism…?