Abdul Karim Al Eryani


Yemeni politician who brokered Arab Spring Peace A Yemeni former prime minister and diplomat, Abdul Karim al-Eryani, helped bring about a peaceful change of his country's government during the Arab Spring of 2011. He was a scion of a prominent family that had held government posts in the region for 700 years. A scientist educated in Egypt and the United States, al-Eryani was considered a father figure and a voice of reason in Yemen, a country infamous for long, bloody tribal feuds. When huge pro-democracy demonstrations rocked Sana, the Yemeni capital, at the beginning of the Arab Spring in January 2011, al-Eryani was an early proponent of ceding power to a younger generation. He eventually brokered a transfer of power that, at least for several years, forestalled the chaos and anarchy that marked similar transitions elsewhere in the Middle East. He won a scholarship to study in America and, after stints in Texas and Georgia, obtained a Ph.D. in biochemical genetics from Yale in 1968. A progressive Arab nationalist, al-Eryani returned to Yemen in 1972 and held a string of ministerial posts, including in development, education and foreign affairs. He was prime minister of the Yemen Arab Republic from 1980 to 1983, and held the same post in the united Yemen from 1998 to 2001. Among other achievements, al-Eryani was instrumental in uniting North and South Yemen in 1990; played a key role in negotiating a 2000 border agreement with Saudi Arabia; and introduced liberal ideas in many fields, including agriculture. He passed away in Frankfurt, where he had flown for medical treatment.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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