Young Yemen

Yemen has the lowest median age of any country in the Middle East/North Africa region.

The median age in Yemen is 18.6 years, according to the CIA World Factbook. This means that, as of last year, almost half of the 26 million people of Yemen were under 18 years of age. Yemen’s median age is 19 years below the U.S. median age and 23.3 years below that of the EU.

Flag of Yemen

Flag of Yemen

Yemen’s economy is small and under-developed. The country has depended for many years on dwindling oil reserves and was unable to provide enough educational opportunities or legitimate jobs for its young people. In addition, Yemen’s government has been weak for quite some time.

As a result, the country has not been in a position to pursue suitable policies to address and mitigate the challenges associated with this stark demographic reality.

Now that a full-blown civil war has unfolded in Yemen and almost a dozen countries are currently participating in military operations in the country, it has become next to impossible to tackle the issue of the youth bulge in any meaningful fashion.

Even before this recent turn of events, Yemeni children were at serious risk of enslavement and abduction for human trafficking, not just in Yemen itself, but also in neighboring Saudi Arabia and Oman. Girls are kidnapped and forced into prostitution in Saudi Arabia’s hospitality and entertainment industry.

Young boys are also at risk of being forced into domestic servitude or prostitution. They bear the additional risk of being forced to fight in Yemen’s national army, clan militias and terrorist groups that operate in the country.

This piece was adapted from a Globalist Quiz I researched and wrote.

Pro-American Kosovo’s Syrian Jihad

15 years after a US-led NATO bombing campaign freed the predominantly Muslim province of Kosovo from Serbia, youth unemployment stands at 70%. Now more than a hundred young residents, from a country with a huge statue of Bill Clinton in the capital (photo below), have gone off to join anti-American terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Balkan fighters have participated in Islamist insurgencies elsewhere in the past, but more often against Russia — which, unlike the US, supported Serbia against its Muslim neighbors in the former Yugoslavia. This time, would-be combatants from places like Kosovo are joining ISIS, a group that has moved beyond attacking places in Syria and is now staging suicide attacks in Iraq’s capital against the US-supported government — using at least one Kosovar recruit so far — and has called for attacks on U.S. and British citizens everywhere.

The talk and stories of people disappearing to the Syrian conflict from Kosovo, a country of 1.8 million people, now abound. This is especially true after Kosovar fighters began propagandizing from Syria to folks back home over social media. Even some former NATO assets have reportedly joined up to become jihadists in Syria. In another case, a man kidnapped his 8-year-old son away from his wife and went to Syria with him. Senior religious officials in Kosovo have been arrested for allegedly preaching recruitment on behalf of extremist religious groups in Syria, including ISIS.

The general population disapproves very strongly of the one or two hundred citizens who have gone to join extremist groups in Syria. But Kosovo has no jobs for the vast majority of young men. In contrast, ISIS can offer excitement and a sense of purpose, along with food provisions and payroll funds from the millions of dollars added daily to its cash reserves. And the situation is not unique. Nearby Bosnia, which also has been experiencing very high unemployment and has an even more extensive prior history of contributing recruits to Islamic extremist insurgencies all over, has seen some of its citizens be similarly lured to the civil war in Syria.

The lessons, as always, are that you can’t fix every problem with airstrikes and you can’t fight extremism without fighting poverty and joblessness. A multi-million dollar Western grant for jobs training and creation in the Balkans wouldn’t go amiss right now. Too bad they’re cutting such programs in their own countries already.

Statue of Bill Clinton in Pristina, Kosovo, November 2009. (Credit: Arian Selmani via Wikimedia)

Statue of Bill Clinton in Pristina, Kosovo, November 2009. (Credit: Arian Selmani via Wikimedia)

AFD 47 – Unemployment and Government

Latest Episode of Arsenal for Democracy:
“AFD Ep 47 – Unemployment and Government”
Posted: Mon, 13 May 2013

Play Now
Description: Guest commentator Sarah joins Bill from Idaho to talk about youth unemployment, unemployment insurance, and public sector job cuts. Then Bill highlights economic benefits of the EPA and the early results of Obamacare implementation.