As Yemenis run low on gas and food, revolution could take off
Since protests began earlier this year, Yemen's currency has plummeted, oil production has dropped, and food prices have risen by as much as 45 percent.
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Shortages of gas, good could bring 'real revolution'
While official signs of economic trouble prove elusive, the effects are beginning to appear in the streets.Skip to next paragraph
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Throughout the capital, Yemenis wait days on end to refill cooking gas canisters. Restaurants throughout the city have shut their doors as a result of the gas shortage.
Queues at gas stations stretch for blocks. Many have run out of fuel.
“Oil production has dropped 120,000 barrels per day and we're now importing," says Mr. Iryani. "We have a huge drop in income from oil.”
Yemen’s oil reserves, anticipated to run dry within five years, account for roughly 60 percent of government revenues and 90 percent of import revenues, according to the International Monetary Fund.
With antigovernment protests continuing to grow each week, some believe that the effects of the unraveling economy could push Saleh closer to departure.
“There are still some people that don’t care about politics,” says Mohammed al-Said, a demonstrator from the southern port city of Aden. “But when they can’t afford cooking gas and food, that will be the beginning of a real revolution.”
Rising food prices
Further complicating Yemen’s economic situation is the rise in global food prices. According to the World Food Program (WFP), staple products such as vegetable oil, rice, and wheat have risen by 11, 22, and 45 percent respectively since March.
“We’re not saying that suddenly now there’s a food crisis – we’re saying there has been one for years,” says Gian Carlo Cirri, Yemen’s WFP representative.
According to Mr. Cirri, 12 percent of the population – roughly 3 million people – are already more than 500 calories short of minimum nutritional standards. Long before the country’s political uprising, Yemen was classified as an emergency location by WFP.
“The challenges that Yemen is confronted with are so many and so deeply rooted that there will be a need for this political crisis to be overcome very quickly so they can start tackling those issues,” Cirri adds.
Mounting pressure for a resolution
But Saleh has remained defiant in the face of calls for his resignation. Negotiations with opposition groups that began weeks ago have failed to achieve tangible results.
Saleh has publicly expressed willingness to transfer power, but has yet to indicate how or when a handover would take place. Protesters say they will accept nothing short of the president's immediate departure.
As violence and the threat of economic collapse continue to increase, Saleh’s administration has come under mounting pressure to determine a swift resolution to the stalemate.
On Sunday, delegations from the ruling party and the Joint Meeting Parties, Yemen’s coalition of opposition parties, traveled to Riyadh for Saudi-led discussions mediated by the Gulf Cooperation Council. The talks ended no closer to achieving a solution, said a government official familiar with the situation.