The Minister of Yemeni Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abu Bakr Al Kirbi, delivered a statement at the International Institute for Strategic Study’s Regional Security Summit in Manama, Bahrain known as the Manama Dialogue. Al Kirbi emphasizes the vital importance of Yemen on the international playing field, specifically its geographic location. Al Kirbi calls for a reexamination of antiterrorist policies in the form of a more constructivist approach, and ultimately concludes that Yemen was the only success story coming out of the Arab Spring
In the name of Allah, the most compassionate, the most merciful. Your Highnesses and Excellencies, let me first thank His Highness the Crown Prince of Bahrain, the Bahraini government and the International Institute for Strategic Studies on the outstanding preparation for this conference and for their kind invitation to participate in it. I congratulate them on the outstanding attendance from the region and beyond. I would like to mention that my last participation in the Manama Dialogue was at the end of 2010, three years ago. At that time, Yemen was at the gates of a political crisis that evolved into the Arab Spring. Before I talk in this aspect, I would first like to thank all who mentioned Yemen in their interventions and for the condolences I have received from many for the martyrs and victims of the criminal terrorist aggression which occurred in the Defense Complex Hospital in Sanaa, and which resulted in sixty-five persons murdered and more than two hundred injured.
Today, Yemen is drawing its way towards future security and it is more insistent achieving this goal after coming out from the political crisis that could have led to a civil war. Yemen stands today on the threshold of a new phase, drafting a new contract with its people, so it is facing some attempts by certain forces to abort this process, either to protect their interests or to stop the transition wheel turning to a new era. However, I assure you that President Hadi and the Yemeni people will not allow it. Friends, brothers of Yemen should seek to maintain this unique Yemeni experience of the Arab Spring countries after many expected worst-case scenarios in Yemen.
We are talking about stability in the region, and I must emphasize that Yemen, despite the difficulties and challenges it faces, is a central element for the stability of the region and the world, first, for its geographical location and because it controls one of the most important shipping lines between East and West, and also controls one of the most important straits which is Bab El Mandeb. Second, because it represents the southern fence of the Arabian Peninsula for the migrations and mass exodus from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, which reached more than a million refugees, as well as the presence of al-Qaeda there.
Added to this are the economic and developmental problems - yesterday, the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs stated that 18 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance - which make maintaining the stability of Yemen a regional and international responsibility. If the efforts of President Hadi and the government failed, God forbid, to bring Yemen to the safe shore, everyone will pay a heavy price as a result of ignoring what is happening in Yemen and the slowdown in supporting the government.
Yemen appreciates and thanks all for the moral support provided to President Hadi and the government, which has been clearly evident through direct contact and communication from many capitals. However, this alone is not enough, it must be accompanied with real logistic and technical support for the army and security forces in addition to the humanitarian aid, and this should be done before it is too late.
The strategy of combating terrorism should be reconsidered in a comprehensive way which is not limited to the intelligence and security aspects but extends to include cultural, religious and social aspects, creating new opportunities and reducing poverty, which causes polarization, extremism and terrorism.
When talking about the security of the Middle East and the region, we must first remember that the Middle East is different from other geographical areas, in terms of the unity of land, culture, history and relations. So we should consider stability of this region as indivisible unit and the indivisibility of the security of the region. We cannot ignore the geographical overlap and population, and also our region is of particular importance for several reasons, including the geographical location, which makes it part of Africa and Asia and on the doors of Europe, as well as its importance for the international economy as a source of energy and also it controls the international sea lanes such as the Straits of Hormuz and Bab el Mandeb and the Suez Canal. However, we must recognize that some of the difficulties faced by countries in the region and affects its stability are internal difficulties. In addition, there are external elements added to it.
We can employ these internal and external interactions into positive action if it aims to stabilize the country otherwise they will lead to the opposite. Thus, instead of turning the country into a stable and effective state in the region, it will turn into a failed state and enter the stage of destructive chaos.
In the last two days, we have heard about the commitment of both the United States and Britain to ensure the stability of the region by the presence of their military forces and their readiness to enhance the capabilities of these forces. We also heard about the role played by America and Britain to achieve stability through development, but this has not translated to reality quickly enough despite the fact that the cost of this development is limited when compared to the cost of the military presence.
In the midst of these crises, it is regrettable that the issues of democracy, freedom and human rights which have emerged for the first time after the events of the 11th of September became a secondary concern besides fight against terrorism, though the region's countries are clearly backward in these aspects.
The region has witnessed several military interventions and also the use of soft power through civil society organisations, diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions. In my view they, in their entirety, have achieved success in some aspects, but they have created problems of another kind and negative effects as a result of poor judgment and misunderstanding of the composition of the countries that witness political, cultural and social interference.
Interference in the Yemeni political crisis was positive as the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) came from sister countries, they are the GCC countries which recognize Yemen and know its community and culture and civilization, and realize that any deterioration in the situation of Yemen is reflected on their own security and stability. Support of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and their united position toward the initiative were also another factor for its success. Additionally the initiative with its operational mechanism had a clear programme with landmarks and a specific transitional phase.
When the implementation of the Gulf initiative started, a lot of doubts were raised about the Yemenis’ commitment to execute the initiative and follow the specific steps. But the world was surprised that things went to plan: forming a national coalition or transitional government in the beginning, and then conducting early presidential elections, and then the army restructure, ending the division that occurred during the political crisis, and then to start preparing for national dialogue by forming the Preparatory Committee for the dialogue. Today, everyone looks at Yemen and wonders: ‘Why did the national dialogue not end on time? And what are the consequences of this delay?’
I would say that this delay is a result of the insistence of the participants in the national dialogue conference not to leave any hanging matters that may become problems in the future, and therefore they are addressing issues and implementing treatments. I think the six months that have been determined to hold a national dialogue may not be sufficient in light of the size of the problems and issues that panelists are addressing.
Also, I want to assure you that the terrorist act that happened the day before yesterday make Yemenis more insistent on the success of the dialogue because they realize that success is in itself a defeat for terrorism and a treatment for the causes that lead to extremism and terrorism.
So, this forum gave me the opportunity to brief you on the developments in Yemen, and to assure you that Yemen, from my point of view, is the only success in the Arab Spring so far. We have to maintain this success because it is primarily a success of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC) countries, which has provided the Gulf initiative. It is a success of a model which can be followed by other Arab states. Thank you very much.]
Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, Minister of Yemeni Foreign Affairs, “Middle East Stability,” Manama, Bahrain, December 2013
-- Carter Ivey