A Yemeni call for an “out of the box” initiative from the Gulf states to rein in the foreign agendas of some internal factions goes to show that the Gulf states need to focus on Yemen for the long term, and cannot neglect the country after hostilities are over.
Former foreign minister Riyad Yassin on Wednesday called on the Gulf states to help the internationally recognised government deter the expansionist agenda of the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia. This goes to show that even once a settlement is reached with the militia, Yemen’s government will need assistance from neighbouring states in keeping the country independent, united and strong. This can only be done with a dedicated military presence of the Gulf states, no matter how small, as a warning for ambitious neighbours that the country’s independence is a red line, and that its security equates with the security of the Gulf.
Already, Gulf and Arab states have stepped up to the plate and made a bold statement in Yemen through its military coalition fighting to restore Yemen’s legitimate government. Yemen is, however, a poor nation that has been devastated further in the past year of fighting. This makes the task of rebuilding the war-torn country one of the most pressing for the GCC states, who have invested tremendously in the neighbouring country not only financially but also with their blood.
Yassin is right when he expresses fear that the country would not be able to protect itself from future threats. While Al Houthis are the most pressing and dangerous threat facing the country today, the presence of Al Qaida and Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in the country are a cause for concern for the Hadi government as well as the Gulf states.
Yemen’s inability to deal with such threats makes it incumbent on the Gulf states to step in. It is their duty and obligation to do so, not only in assisting a neighbouring state, but also in keeping terror groups from gaining a foothold so close to our own doorsteps.
The Gulf states’ intervention in Yemen has sent a strong message to two menacing parties in the region, the terrorists and Iran, that contrary to popular perception, the countries are capable and willing to protect themselves and their allies at any cost.
A major military drill coined Northern Thunder that has brought together 21 countries in Saudi Arabia is sending exactly that message to the region’s enemies far and wide.