Official force needed to protect Yemen from future chaos: former minister

  • 18 February 2016

Yemen should be integrated into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Yemen’s former Foreign Minister said Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi.

“Yemen should enter into a sustainable integration with the Gulf Cooperation Council through an out-of-the-box initiative,” said Riyad Yassin, Yemen’s Foreign Minister from mid-March to December last year.

Yassin told the audience at a lecture organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research such unity should be protected by a force that should not allow anybody to hijack Yemen or the Yemeni people in future.

“An out-of-the-box Gulf initiative to unite Yemen and GCC should be buttressed by a force capable of deterring any expansionist faction or party immediately. Any rebels should not be allowed in the future to repeat what the Al Houthis did to Yemeni cities,” Yassin, also headed the Yemeni Legitimacy delegation at the first Geneva Consultations in mid-June last year.

Yassin, however, did not suggest Yemen’s membership in the GCC, apparently because “the country has been a failing state for more than 30 years now,” he said.

Last month, Yemen’s vice-president called for chalking out a roadmap for the future of Yemen and launching a “real Marshall Plan” for the country with the participation of the Arab League and the GCC.

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Programme, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the US gave $13 billion (Dh48 billion) in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War.

“Great efforts are needed to integrate and rehabilitate the country, and we all in Yemen and in neighbouring nations should work out a joint vision,” Khalid Bahah, who is also Prime Minister, told a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

Yassin ruled out Yemen’s ability to rebuild institutions on its own.

“Yemenis cannot sit together and reach a settlement on their own. It is also important that Al Houthi militants and (ousted Yemeni president) Ali Abdullah Saleh’s militias must not be rewarded for their terror in any future settlement,” Yassin said.

Yassin suggested that Yemen should not build a large army similar to that of Saleh. “A gigantic army like that of Saleh would void 40 per cent of the Yemeni budget,” he said.

He said the focus should be on building civil institutions and stressed that Aden is an important springboard from which to find a workable solution to the Yemeni crisis.

“A civil state will need to be built in the light of addressing unresolved issues: the Southern Issue; the need to eliminate factors that fuel terrorism, and drafting a development plan that maximises Yemen’s capabilities,” Yassin said.

He also condemned Iran as “the sole country in the world that openly backs terrorists. No other country can openly support terror,” Yassin said.

Yassin was speaking a day after Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi revealed that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had sent him a letter explaining his group’s role in fighting in Yemen.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Ankara following his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hadi said that Nasrallah wrote him: “Our fighters arrived in Yemen to teach the Yemeni people the essence of governing.”

Nasrallah’s letter is proven evidence of Iran’s involvement in the Yemeni civil war, since it shows that Hezbollah, which is financed by Iran, is taking part in the fighting in Yemen.