Following close to eleven months of street protests calling for an end to his 33-year presidency, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a U.S.-supported transition plan on November 23, 2011. Former Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was elected president in February 2012 in a one-man election. While the new government has made progress on parts of the transition plan by beginning to restructure the security sector and completing a National Dialogue Conference (NDC), it has yet to revise the constitution or hold new elections.
In late September 2014, Shiite rebels gained control over much of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, prompting a new agreement to establish a more inclusive government. At the same time, President Hadi is facing growing protests in the south for independence and continuing attacks by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Security forces and several non-state actors in Yemen have been implicated in various human rights violations.
Given the unstable political and security climate, U.S. support for Yemen’s security sector remains a top priority. From Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 to 2014, the U.S. government allocated a total of $343 million in U.S. security assistance to Yemen aimed primarily at strengthening the security forces’ capacity to combat terrorism. As the Obama Administration seeks more funding for U.S. security assistance to Yemen, there are several serious challenges ranging from concern about the use of U.S. drone attacks, Houthi support for the new agreement and high levels of security force corruption and abuse of power.