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Will the GCC embrace Yemen? Part II

Will the GCC embrace Yemen? Part II

Yemen's political and home security issues have isolated the nation in the past; but GCC nations are beginning to invite Yemen into their political fold. Part II

July 20, 2009 7:20 by

Regional integration is another approach. But ties between the Gulf countries and their south-Arabian cousin haven’t always been strong. In the case of Saudi Arabia, for example, “there is a history of complicated relations” with Yemen, says LettaTayler, a researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism with Human Rights Watch. “We hope that doesn’t block genuine efforts at cooperation on what is clearly a regional problem and needs regional solutions.”

Relations seem to be improving though. In August 2008, Qatar helped broker a peace deal between Sana’a and Yemen’s restive northern Shi’a Zaidi sect. When a local terrorist group attacked the US embassy in Sana’a last September, killing 17 people, Saudi King Abdullah invited Yemen’s president to Mecca and reportedly promised him support to combat al-Qaeda-linked groups.

More recently, Saudi leaders have said they’re with Sana’a “all the way,” and “without reservation.” In May, Oman also revoked the citizenship of a former Yemeni leader for supporting recent protests and calling for an independent southern state.

Arabian countries are taking baby steps to bring Yemen into the GCC, too. In spite of such efforts though, Stracke says it won’t be Yemen’s resource-rich neighbors that decide how its problems play out, but Yemenis themselves. “It’s whether there’s enough capacity within Sana’a,” she says, “not whether the Arab neighbors are doing enough.”

“At the end of the day, you can only pour so much resources into something that has capacity. Can Yemen hold itself together and use external help from neighboring Arab countries to turn things around? That’s the question.”

First seen in Trends magazine.

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