The amount of attention Yemen has received in recent months should be applauded. MEED has repeatedly argued that the country is destabilising rapidly and is an increasing threat to regional security.
A 27 January meeting in London of politicians and diplomats from 24 countries to discuss Yemen’s problems was a clear signal that the country has, rightly, become a major concern for world leaders.
But the event lasted just two hours and was held the day before a two-day conference on Afghanistan. Yemeni leaders can not have failed to see where the West’s priorities lie.
“If the region’s leaders want the Arabian Peninsula to remain stable, they will have to work with Sanaa for a long time to come”
The meeting that will have far more influence on Yemen’s fate will happen in Riyadh on 22 and 23 February, when GCC states meet to discuss their response to the country’s crises.
The West’s interest in Yemen does not extend far beyond a fear that the country could incubate Al-Qaeda terrorists.
The interests of the Gulf countries range far wider and should lead them to take a far wider role in helping the country.
Saudi Arabia, in particular, does not want to see the country fall any further, especially since Sanaa’s war with Houthi rebels in the north of Yemen spilled over their common border last year.
A renewed civil war in the south could also lead to the Bab el-Mendeb strait – the crucial trade route linking the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean – being cut off, along with the 3 million barrels of crude oil that pass through it daily. The rise of Al-Qaeda in the country is also a threat to Riyadh.
If the region’s leaders want the Arabian Peninsula to remain stable and prosperous, they will have to work with Sanaa for a long time to come.
It will take more than two hours, two days, or even two years.