A two-day meeting of eight Arab foreign affairs ministers ended in Kuwait City on 6 July, having failed to work out a united policy on the civil war in Yemen. Although Egypt, Syria and five GCC states issued a final communique condemning the continuing fighting and demanding a cease-fire, there was no mention of recognising the breakaway south. Moreover, Qatar – one of Sanaa’s closest regional allies – announced it had strong reservations about the statement’s content.

The meeting of signatories to the March 1991 Damascus Declaration for defence co-operation coincided with a series of military victories by the northern forces around Aden and Mukalla, the main oil town in Hadhramaut province. Just before the end of the final session, southern leaders appealed to the ministers to recognise the southern government and block the northern advance.

The appeal went unanswered. ‘The countries of the Damascus Declaration declare their condemnation of the continuation of fighting and see in it a disaster for the Yemeni people and demand a ceasefire and a resort to peaceful means and dialogue,’ the final statement read. It also said that urgent humanitarian aid would be sent to the besieged city of Aden.

No mention was made of the recognition issue in the statement. It was also unclear whether the subject had even been discussed during the meeting.