Supportive International Role in Yemen and Afghanistan

  • 31 January 2010

The important message that emanated from the recently held London Conference on Yemen and Afghanistan was the two countries’ urgent need for foreign help in their difficult struggle for security and economic progress. The need to expedite support and help prevent further deterioration of the security situation in these countries were highlighted at the conference as the only way to avert their transformation into sources of threat for regional and international security and stability.

The London Conference also marked an important turning point in the international response to the challenges facing the two countries and in relation to extremism and terrorism in particular. Similarities exist between the two countries not only with regard to the security situation but also on the subject of economic, social and political problems that they face.

Experiences of the past have proved that only a military response to extremism and terrorism is not enough and does not achieve the desired results. Therefore, assurances given by the London Conference participants on the need to provide economic and development aid to the two countries represent significant progress. Equally significant is Yemen and Afghanistan’s requests for greater focus on development as a means to tackle extremism and terrorism.

On the subject of Yemen, the conference responded – as stated by Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Kurbi – to his country’s need for development aid and improvement of its economic situation. The same applies to Afghanistan and the conference addressed the critical issues of economic assistance and support for the process of development as well as efforts made on achieving national reconciliation.

One of the important aspects of the London Conference was that it did not overlook the regional dimension as a framework that can help the two countries overcome challenges. This was demonstrated both through the sincere involvement of participants in the conference and within the mechanism developed for implementing its resolutions. This is indeed the right approach as Afghanistan, in particular, needs support of its neighboring countries considering the fact that the impact of what is happening within its territories extend beyond its borders. Hence stability is not only in its self-interest but is also in the common interest of the region, especially considering the close geographical, ethnic and sectarian orientation in certain areas.

Similarly, Yemen’s stability and security objectives could not be achieved alone, without help from its neighboring countries, especially those in the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC). Yemen is of significant strategic importance to the GCC due to its geographic, historic and cultural links to the region. Since the beginning of the crisis in Yemen, the GCC countries have affirmed Yemen’s unity and its territorial integrity and have expressed support in its fight against rebels and terrorists.  Participants at the London Conference were also keen to engage with the Gulf countries in their efforts to support Yemen.

While the outcome of London Conference must be recognized, the actual challenge will be its transformation into executable mechanisms on the ground. That will indeed prove the seriousness of the international community.