Press Review [Archives:2000/26/Press Review]

June 26 2000

Signing of the border treaty between Yemen and Saudi Arabia has captured this week’s main attention of all Yemeni media, particularly the press. This is only natural, as the dispute is more than seventy years old and the disputed areas very vast.

Prince Naif: Treaty is not secret.
Kidnappers Demand a Share in Oil Revenues.
AL-AYYAM (Independent, tri-weekly, 19th June) reported what was said by the Saudi Minister of Interior, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz that Saudi Arabia didn’t pledge to pay large amounts of money to Yemen in return for [signing] the treaty. He added that such an act was not appropriate for the people of Yemen. He stressed that the treaty shall be published in full.
The Prince reiterated his denial that the treaty has anything to do with the return of Yemeni labor to Saudi Arabia, or any privileges it used to have in the past. He however urged Saudi businesses to recruit Yemeni laborers to work in Saudi Arabia.

ATTAGAMMOA (Independent, weekly 19th June) reports that in the aftermath of the border treaty with Yemen’s biggest neighbor, whispers were being heard that the treaty will endanger the interests of thousands of Yemenis totalling between 30000 to 40000 people- who used to receive financial assistance from the Saudi government. These whispers grew into comments and overheard expectations. These people were paid either for being loyal to the Saudis or for being victims of the inhuman internal Yemeni upheavals relating to political struggle among Yemenis before and after the unity of Yemen.
Wondering about the future of such people, some are making jokes that only those who joined the list recently might lose because there was not enough time for them to save enough money as a safeguard against future upheavals. The old-listers, however aren’t expected to suffer: They might start receiving less and in local currency. However, if all payments are discontinued promptly it will be a disaster for many. Because of such an aspect it is believed that both parties of the treaty shall see to it that the interests of these thousands are taken into consideration and there shall be the least suffering possible.

In its editorial which ATTAGAMMOA devoted to the treaty, after expressing congratulations to the peoples of both countries, it was quick to say:
The People of Yemen expect so much and so many important benefits from this treaty. The most important is that the leadership in Yemen shall be able to give all of its time to the internal affairs of Yemen in order to give priority to equal and balanced development [of all parts of Yemen]. Implementing the local government law is the next, within clear borders, as a move towards a national reconciliation that closes all open and inherited files from all eras of internal conflicts and wars.
Yes to a treaty that guarantees to both sides their historical rights. We want by such a treaty to know what happened to Khrakhir, Wadeaah, Sharoorah and to the sea borders and the pipeline which our brother country wants to build to reach the Arab Sea etc.
All negotiations include some give and take elements, but we look forward to knowing what exactly was agreed, and to practice our right of guarding our legal rights. Any cordial give and take in order to enrich good neighborliness is OK as long as it isn’t dictated or imposed.

Saudi Pledge to Support Yemen GCC Membership
AL-NASS (Independent, Weekly 19th June) said: Political and Media sources confirmed that Saudi Arabia pledged to support the application of Yemen to join the Gulf Cooperation Council, and to stop assisting the [Yemeni] opposition abroad in consequence of the border treaty between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
In an another report titled 40000 sq. km. gained AL-NASS said: while the treaty has been kept secret up to now, informed sources report that the treaty made three important points included in the treaty that were new to [previous] suggestions about the border-line. The border was pushed back 10 km inside Yemen at Al-Wadeaah area in return for a Saudi withdrawal from an area estimated to be 44000 kilometers near the border triangle in Marib governorate. Al-Thar Mountain was divided between both sides so that the part facing Najran belongs to Saudi Arabia.
According to this treaty Yemen has abandoned its most important conditions for a border treaty with Saudi Arabia, especially those relating to annexes of the Al-Tayef treaty which gave privileges to the nationals of both countries and Yemen’s historical claims to the areas of Asir, Najran, Djizan, Sharoorah and Wadeaah which were annexed by Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the 1934 war and in the early 70s.

Al-Jifry Phones the President Hours after the Treaty.
 President Endorses the Treaty Next Sunday.
RAY (Sons of Yemen League, weekly 20th June) quoted Mr. Abdul Rahman Al-Jifry, Chairman of the Sons of Yemen League and Chairman of the foreign based National Opposition Front as saying: The border treaty signed by Saudi Arabia and Yemen is the end of a historical era that was characterized by strained relations, and is the good beginning of normal relations that share in the security and stability of the region.
He added in an interview with ATTARIQ: A sound mind and the logic behind developments and events don’t allow that Yemen repairs its relations with neighboring countries and leaves its internal relations and state structure unrepaired. To claim the opposite is very far fetched from sound and proper thinking.
In another article about the constitutional procedure of endorsing the treaty RAY said: Informed sources report that Parliament shall discuss the treaty during next Saturday’s session behind closed doors and shall endorse it during the same session. He added that President Saleh will endorse the treaty next Sunday, which makes the treaty constitutional, and opens the way for the executive and practical effects of the treaty.
RAY touched also upon stances taken by other opposition parties. It reported: The Higher Coordination Council for Opposition Parties refrained from announcing an official position towards the border treaty between Saudi Arabia and Yemen which was signed last week. The Council dispatched a letter signed by the chairmen and secretaries general of member parties to Prime Minister Abdul Karim Al-Eryani demanding a copy of the treaty and annexes. Dr Al-Eryani didn’t till yesterday evening comply with the demand which was forwarded last Saturday. Some member parties have issued short and cautious statements, and the Council Chairman refuses to answer journalists phone calls.
The Unionist People’s Nasserite Organization’s Secretary General has cautiously welcomed any agreements that might bring an end to border problems between Arab countries on the condition that they aren’t serving the interest of one party, and shouldn’t contain any injustice or prejudice to the rights of Yemen.
The Islah party welcomed what was declared by Yemen and Saudi Arabia but added that as the treaty hasn’t been published yet, it is hoped that it guarantees both parties rights and interests, and satisfies their aspirations.

The Saudi Deputy Consul in Aden said: By signing this treaty Yemen and Saudi Arabia have concluded a long struggle and closed one of the most difficult files which has been an obstacle hindering stability and mutual relations, ATTARIQ reported.

Military Campaigns and Tension Builds up between Tribes and Government.
 Saudi Arabia Deports 900 Yemenis.

In its editorial, AL-WAHDAWI (The Unionist People’s Nasserite Organization, weekly 20th June) reviewed the historical background that led to the clash between Yemen and Saudi Arabia and thus, created the border dispute between them.

It added: The core of the relations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen isn’t confined to the border dispute. It is rather linked to many factors, such as the political decisions taken by Yemen, interference in internal affairs of both sides. Arab and International relations, and other issues related to wealth, rights of neighborhood, mutual interests are shadowed by the vast difference in wealth and population among different parts of Arabia.
AL-WAHDAWI blamed the government for the fact that the opposition parties can not take a clear position towards the treaty as it refrains from providing them with copies of the treaty.
However, AL-WAHDAWI noted that by signing this treaty the government loses its last excuse for the continuation of the prevailing conditions of internal affairs: corruption, anarchy, lawlessness, the intensification of the influence of power centers and non-existent development. The whole regime led by President Saleh is required to develop a new policy that makes corrections to old mistakes, brings an end to corruption and lobbies, improves the way our nationals live and enforces national cohesion.
AL-WAHDAWI was the only Yemeni newspaper to report that the Saudi authorities deported hundreds of Yemenis during last Wednesday and Friday. It quoted a report by Al-Khaleej of the U. A. Emirates that: 900 Yemenis arrived at Sana’a Airport on four flights of Saudi and Yemeni Airlines. They looked miserable, remained at the airport for a long time, and seemed not to have transport expenses to their destinations outside Sana’a.
A long article by Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Saqqaf in AL-WAHDAWI saw the treaty and the procedures that led to it in a very different way. Mr. Saqqaf said about the way the official media reported the last activities and actions leading to the treaty as a ridiculous vaudeville. Is it possible that an important and long-awaited treaty is prepared and signed within 48 hours?
The writer called upon members of Parliament not to yield to pressure by government and endorse the treaty quickly. They should respond to their national feelings and not to their party affiliation.
This is the first clear call for such a position towards the treaty to be published in Yemen.

Yemen GCC Membership is beyond Treaty
Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, Deputy Chairman of the Political Dept., member of the Consultative Council told AL-WAHDAH that the border treaty has nothing to do with the membership of Yemen of the GCC. It is however hoped that that the [improvement of] relations between Yemen and Saudi Arabia and newly regained trust shall, in the future, close the gap between different opinions on the membership of Yemen.

Government to Opposition: No Copy of Treaty
AL-THAWRI (Yemeni Socialist Party, weekly 22nd June) reported that an informed source at the Higher Coordination Council for Opposition Parties told it that Prime Minister Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Eryani told a prominent opposition personality that only after the treaty is ratified shall opposition parties receive a copy of it. The source expressed his wonder towards such a behavior by government. What is the use of providing the parties of the opposition after the treaty is ratified. How shall the opinions of these parties be taken into consideration.
By Thursday 22nd June the text of the border treaty was already known. Many newspapers published the whole text inside Yemen or abroad.