GCC and International Support for Yemen

  • 1 March 2010

There is no doubt that Yemen is crucial to the security and stability of the Gulf countries, Arabian Peninsula and the larger Middle East and it is in regional as well as global interest to support the country’s development in a manner that enables it to face its internal challenges as well as help it confront the root cause of its instability. This is also important for regional and international security especially because of Yemen’s strategic location, from where it overseas one of the most important sea lanes in the world – the Bab Al-Mandab Strait connecting the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea – that has recently been threatened by Al-Qaeda.

The Donors Conference held over the last two days in the Saudi capital of Riyadh should be seen in this context. The conference was attended by representatives from the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), the United States and the European Union and its objective was to follow up on the decisions taken at the London Conference on January 17 in which about 40 countries and international organizations participated. They offered to help Yemen strengthen its capabilities in their fight against terrorism, poverty, border protection and in dealing with other development issues.

Yemen faces immense challenges at the domestic front and the most important are threats from Al-Qaeda and its conflict with Houthi rebels besides separatist claims in the South that surfaces from time to time and causes tension and turmoil in the country. Yemen needs both regional and international support to face these difficult challenges especially because Al-Qaeda is trying to make the country a launching pad to threaten the entire region and harm international interests in this region which is of strategic importance to the whole world. If the world has taken remarkable interest in supporting Yemen and helping it in recent years, then the GCC has given this issue extraordinary importance too. The evidence of this emerged during the London Conference where it offered around 50 percent of the total financial support offered by participating countries to support development projects in Yemen.

There is no doubt that Yemen, because of its geographical, political and security considerations, is of significant importance to the security of the Arabian Gulf region and also represents an important strategic depth to the GCC. That is also the reason why the GCC is gradually trying to integrate Yemen into the GCC so as to facilitate all possible support to the country and help maintain its security, stability and enhance its development. The council is keen to meet the financial obligations it announced, or has agreed upon, even though during the recent Riyadh Conference there were claims that bureaucratic hassles from some donor countries were hindering financial obligations.

The UAE has always been keen to support Yemen either through bilateral means or within the ambit of a collective framework of regional and international cooperation. This has evolved from the belief that Yemen’s security is akin to the security of the GCC countries.