Partisan politics and the failure of power-sharing post Yemen’s 2011 uprising

Robert Forster

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Beginning with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative in 2011, Yemen underwent numerous attempts at reaching a political settlement via power-sharing arrangements, but to no avail. As such, in March 2015 following the Houthi occupation of Sanaa six months earlier, Saudi Arabia began its military campaign to quell Houthi ambitions and reinstate Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi as President. For now, as the conflict continues, it seems unlikely that any form of sustainable settlement will be reached in the near future. However, in this context, it is vital to question why international and local attempts at creating a sustainable political settlement in Yemen failed following the 2011 uprising.
Although the literature on Yemen has gone into great lengths of explaining the weaknesses of the GCC-Initiative (Holzapfel 2014; Transfeld 2014), analysis comes up short on explaining the escalating political issues underlying the failure of later attempts at political settlement. This paper aims to fill that gap.
For numerous actors, the 2011 uprising represented a unique opportunity to re-negotiate their position in regards to the state. As a result, this re-negotiation has drastically changed the topography of Yemen’s political environment as the importance of long-term established political parties diminished (Yadav 2015) and informal power-holders have risen to the national level. In addition, Yemen has witnessed several other internal and external trends following the removal of President Saleh including an increase in militarized sectarianism and a noticeable growth in the organizational capabilities of non-state organisations.
Which such trends in mind, this paper aims to explore and analyse why power-sharing agreements in Yemen instituted by local and international actors after the uprising of 2011 failed. Contextualized in a shifting local and international political topography, the paper will delve into the three formally attempted ‘political agreements’ that took place, namely the 2011 GCC-Initiative, the 2013/2014 National Dialogue Conference and the 2014 Peace and National Partnership Agreement that represent three unique case studies of ‘settlements’ imposed by international, international/local and local actors respectively. In the process, the paper will highlight the discrepancies of formal and informal political organisations in Yemen and highlight their ‘fear of peace’ (Brickhill 2010; Hill 2015) and the reasons for continuing the conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016
EventPolitical Parties in the Middle East - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Jan 201629 Jan 2016


ConferencePolitical Parties in the Middle East
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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