How will Yemen join GCC? [Archives:2008/1135/Opinion]

March 6 2008

By: Adel Amin
During the second consultative meeting on February 4 for Yemen development partners, pondered upon as a micro-conference for gulf and international donors, Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar said that it is time for Yemen to occupy its natural position in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He is of the opinion that the Yemeni-Gulf relations have seen distinctive development as part of the sincere efforts, aimed at qualifying Yemen's economy for GCC accession.

In the same context, Yemen's official media promoted a notion that Yemen is nearer and nearer to joining the Gulf cartel while Gulf people are more enthusiastic than Yemenis to expedite Yemen's admission to the bloc. The State-run Al-Thawra Daily cited GCC Secretary-General Abdurrahman Al-Atteyya as confirming the Gulf State's strong desire to accept Yemen as a seventh member in the council. It also attributed to the Qatari Emir his pledge to backs Yemen's entry into GCC.

Additionally, the Yemeni media excessively talked about a Saudi initiative presented by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz to the most recent Gulf Summit through which the king called for Yemen's full integration into the Gulf cartel. But away from the above-said statements and our absolute confirmation of Yemen's eligibility to obtain GCC membership since it is an integral part of the region, let's raise the following questions:

As long as there is a strong Gulf will, according to the official media, to facilitate Yemen's admission to the Gulf cartel, in addition to a Saudi initiative calling for expediting efforts in this regard, what hinders the accomplishment of this task? Had the Saudis already made an initiative in this regard, this might have meant that they took a decision at the highest level in this respect and in Yemen's favor.

Considering Saudi Arabia as the pivotal and leading state in GCC, plus the availability of GCC members who share this state's viewpoint backing Yemen's entry into GCC, the matter seems to be accomplished to Yemen's advantage. In this case, questioning becomes more pressing. Who does hinder Yemen's accession into GCC? Is it believable that one of the six GCC state members has its own viewpoint in this regard, and therefore managed to impose its viewpoint on the other state members as if they are weaker than it? We don't hear anyone in the GCC objecting to Yemen's membership in the Gulf bloc. Instead, all the Gulf people confirm that Yemen should have a natural position among its brothers in the GCC. So, where does the problem exist?

Prime Minister explains the problem:

During his interview with the Qatari 'Watan' newspaper, Yemeni Prime Minister was asked about the absence of clear indicators about Yemen's entry into GCC, plus the absence of clear Gulf proofs confirming that the six Gulf states are ready to include Yemen in their cartel in the coming few years. Giving an answer to this question, the Yemeni official said, “We don't know what is required from us.”

Having asked about who hinders Yemen's efforts to joint GCC, Mujawar replied, “We see Yemen as a geographical and historic part of the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf. When it comes to what is required from us to obtain GCC membership, I don't know what the required criteria we have to meet are.” He added that he doesn't know those who really put the obstacles hindering Yemen's admission into the Gulf cartel, nor does he know these obstacles.

The Prime Minister and the topmost official in Yemen's cabinet, who directs the country's policies and programs, and oversees how its plans are implemented, doesn't know what the Gulf people exactly want Yemen to do in order to be eligible for GCC membership. Also, he knows nothing about the admission criteria, nor does he know who create obstacles to Yemen's efforts to join GCC. Our Prime Minister only knows that Yemen is a geographical and historic part of the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf. This is a sufficient reason for his viewpoint that Yemen can be a GCC member, however, he is not aware of the mechanisms required for Yemen's integration into the Gulf cartel.

If the Prime Minister doesn't know what is required from his country to join GCC, and therefore ignores the criteria and requirements for achieving this goal, how his cabinet will succeed in qualifying its national economy, fight corruption and eradicate unemployment, as required by the GCC General Secretariat.

It has been made apparent that a great part of the problem constituting a great obstacle to Yemen's admission to the GCC bloc lies within the Yemeni government itself, primarily its Prime Minister Mujawar who doesn't know what to do. Until today, his government has not yet understood the criteria it should meet in order to be accepted as a seventh GCC member. Through its behavior, the Yemeni government can be likened to 'a deaf guy at a wedding party', notably as the Gulf people are expending efforts to qualify Yemen's economy and extend financial assistance to a debtor country, destroyed by corruption and political turmoil, but shows no interaction to what is taking place around it.

The Yemeni people don't know what is taking place around them. They also don't know what mechanisms may facilitate their march to reach 'Club of the Rich', and how to become members in this club. What they only want is that the Gulf States continue their donations to their nation, however, such donated sums are often wasted.

The statements made by our Prime Minster imply that “For us, we have nothing to do with the issue of qualifying Yemen's economy to join GCC. It is the Gulf people, who must be concerned with qualifying Yemen's economy to be accepted as the cartel's seventh member, the issue is theirs and they have to suggest a workable solution to it.”

As the situation remains unchanged, how it will be possible for Yemen to qualify for GCC membership by the advent of 2015, according to a plan set up by the GCC state members. The Yemeni officials hold the view that geography and history are enough for Yemen to obtain GCC membership. Consequently, they believe that Gulf officials are responsible for qualifying Yemen's economy in order to lag after its neighbors and be accepted as the cartel's seventh member.