Al-Mikhlafi about the Jeddah Treaty: ” The outcome of Jeddah Treaty is that the Yemenis shall become a besieged people.” [Archives:2000/30/Focus]

July 24 2000

Al-Mikhlafi, Advocate
It would have been better if we invited a jurist on border issues and a geologist to this symposium to discuss the Jeddah Treaty.
I believe borders are not the main issue. What is going to happen to the treasure which has been taken away? What is the fate of the minerals in Rub al-Khali Desert which we got nothing of?
In my opinion those who tried to have positive impression about the treaty from the view point of Yemen’s interest… have perceived it from a wrong perspective.
As far as the historical moment in which the accord or the treaty was signed, …in my view, this is not really historical moment. Because the internal weakness of Yemen made it unable to stick to its rights securing our political and economic interests. The treaty has effected an unfair division. Naturally this historical moment has not enabled Yemen to uphold its rights.
The second point is the claim that the international laws do not take historical rights into consideration. The fact, according to my perception of these laws do not ignore such historical rights at all for fixing borders. For instance the time-stretch during which colonization was found in Africa had practically obliterated states with borders from the old history.
Had Yemen taken this example, it would have been in its interest. Therefore, to say that the international law does not take historical rights into consideration is not true at all. Border accords are still based on the criteria of the international law. Of these criteria one is the historical rights. That is the historical existence. Out of these criteria comes the wealth and its ramification. In other words, unpopulated areas like Rub al-Khali…. this is taken on the criteria of right to wealth; subsequently Rub-al-Khali is jointly inherited by all surrounding states. The world has shared equivalent of continents and more. For example the North Pole has been shared between the surrounding states despite the seas and oceans which separate them. Thus, wealth in this area, has become jointly inherited by nations surrounding this isolated, but rich areas. There is another criterion that is of the populace and its inclination.
The positive remarks made by the speakers over this treaty, from my point of view, is absolutely baseless. It is a weak position in the treaty. It has no basis at all. Any agreement not based on truth means that rulers have disposed according to their tastes; it is not a treaty. In other words disposition was according to the desire of the rulers. Normally, a State represents sovereignty; but sovereignty is actually for societies. Any power to dispose which does not preserve rights becomes disputable in the future. To say that sovereignty does not exist any more because globalization has cancelled it, is not correct at all in as far as borders are concerned. The notion of sovereignty is required to be relinquished during the globalization process which is entirely a different subject. That process means opening your borders only for goods and that you encourage foreign investments and allow them the freedom of investment. You cannot handle investments. Thus State’s role is diminished in its development resolution; but this does not mean that the State has relinquished its borders. I have not heard about it although I have a keen interest in globalization. I see that what the speakers believe to be positive in the treaty, from my view point, is totally negative.
It is noted that no-one touched the issue of southern and eastern border. I do not know whether it was an unconscious esoteric reflection that the present government alone has the right to dispense with what concerns North Yemen or was it so because all speakers hail from the North and that what concerns them is the northern part of Yemen alone. I really do not know . From my point of view the issue of eastern and southern borders was very important in as far as wealth, future and stability in the Arabian Peninsula are concerned, because stability alone does not give way to fraternal relations through languages and orations and the like. Stability comes into existence through real potentials of the nations which amalgamate in this area through its existence. As far as Taif Treaty is concerned, the fact, from my view point, is that if we look for justifications, and if we have to accept the de facto and if we look into the extent of right to negotiate…..these are absolutely different matters. From my legal point of view, we do not support seizure of land be that even in the case of an ordinary citizen… what do you think of a land of a State, sovereignty and people? First of all any seizure shall be subject to dispute. It is known that Yemeni lands were captured during a war.
Secondly, in the light of international laws and according to my understanding of this law Ñ the treaty basically is never a border treaty. It is a treaty of cooperation; because there never exists an interim border treaty; subsequently, this transitory situation, according to a legal stand, is subject to alterations and further understanding. This was the main point of weakness for the Saudi Arabians that is why, no sooner did they perceive Yemen’s weakness after the 1994 War they came to snatch from the Yemen an acceptance of Taif Treaty. Had the Saudi Arabian side been in a strong position, it not need have done so. The memorandum of Understanding signed in 1995 after the war, in fact, in itself was adopted as a sort of simple delusion. I say : this relinquishing of land by Yemen is not because we do not have the legal pretext; but the de facto has come in the light of the internal situation of Yemen and the attitude of its government. I say: this new treaty is confined to border only; because all concessions mentioned in the 1934 Taif Treaty does not exist whereas the new treaty is not legal. The outcome of Jeddah Treaty is that the Yemeni people shall become besieged; this is because one part of the Peninsula contains wealth whereas the other part has been given as a charity.
This in the future shall have its impact. Perhaps this Treaty won’t solve the border problem. Therefore, from my point of view, as a future concept, the treaty shall face three main points. The treaty has not served our purposes. For Saudi Arabians the weak points are:-
1. This treaty is baseless in as far as basis of division between the people….. basis of rights (which still stand in the international law) and realization of these rights are concerned. I do not believe these could be changed unless a big power shall revoke the borders.
2. The mode of expressing Yemen’s determination. I do not know whether the government, through this treaty, intends to find ways for future claims or whether this mode was practiced as a result of fear and anxiety.
As far as the question of support and forcing people out into the street and the political parties to support the treaty without knowing its contents Ñ as arranged either by the government or, perhaps, by Saudi Arabia which is believed to have ‘long hands’ in putting pressure on political parties Ñ all these mean the absence of determination. Any contract between individuals which loses the criteria of freedom of determination is doomed. In future this will be one of the access that disposition in realizing the treaty was not with the prior permission or determination of the Yemeni people. As if to say, the Yemeni people were coerced.
3. The wealth. We observe that Yemen was given mountains and populated areas whereas Saudi Arabia retained the areas of wealth for itself. Such areas start from lands forcibly occupied, right from the eastern region down to Rub al-Khali. To these were added the ‘wealthy areas’ in the sea and to be more precise: blocks 24 and 25 which went to Saudi Arabian side.
Both the Yemeni and Saudi Arabian people are keen to reach peace and partnership in life and wealth in the area. Therefore the government is urged to revise this treaty for the sake of stability and peace. One part should not be rich while the other part keeps begging charities. Without this there will not be any peace at all in the near and far future.