A Decisive Gulf Position on Yemen

  • 16 February 2015

The recent meeting of the GCC Foreign Ministers in Riyadh, which focused on the issue of Yemen, concluded with an affirmation of support for the legitimate authorities – President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet – and an outright condemnation of the Shi’a Houthi coup which saw the seizure of the capital Sana’a. The Foreign Ministers’ concerns regarding the potential effects of this event on Gulf security were expressed in a strongly worded final communiqué in which they stated that the GCC countries are prepared to take all necessary measures to protect their security and vital interests against any fallout emanating from Yemen's insecurity and instability. They also offered their assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.

The Houthis’ actions have overturned the plan laid out in the Gulf Initiative, which was approved by the UN Security Council as a framework for a political solution in 2012. In this regard, the Gulf Foreign Ministers concluded their meeting by calling upon the UN to issue a resolution– building on a previous one sent in 2014 which called upon the Houthis and others to reject the use of violence to achieve their political ends and which they have now violated. This new resolution, they urge, should recommend measures be taken to counter any threats to international peace and security emanating from the coup in Yemen as per Section 7 of the UN Charter.

Yemen now faces a civil war that could fragment the country. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon warned in a recent speech to the UN: “Yemen is collapsing before our eyes. We can’t stand by and watch.” The world should help to save Yemen by adopting a firm stance and curtailing the actions of the Houthis who have thrown the country into turmoil. Yemen’s strategic importance stems from its location alongside the highly important Bab-el- Mandeb strait, and its position as a vital front line in the war against Al-Qa’eda.

The latest stance adopted by the GCC countries is both firm and clear, and is indicative of an awareness that Yemen represents a profound strategic element in the security of the Gulf.