Stability is so very important [Archives:2007/1040/Opinion]

April 9 2007

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
In coming and going to the Gulf States over the last 30 years or so, one can reasonably understand that the security and the STABILITY of a country is very vital to that country achieving a reasonable degree of sustainable development. In the case of the Arabian Peninsula, this becomes even more significant as the area holds more than 45% of proven oil reserves (not to mention the hidden natural gas as well) and even more important now possesses close to US $ 3 trillion in reserves.

Yemen is seeking to become a bona fide member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and certainly has urgent reasons for seeking to become a nation with a healthy robust economy that needs to grow at the rate of at least 8% per annum. This is if the country can ever hope to overcome the problems of poverty and other social problems that are producing a state of stagnancy and obvious decay in its social and economic fabric. For the region, this can turn into a very dangerous time bomb, with its neighbors continuing to witness steady and healthy growth economically and a healthy standard of living that is improving year by year, while Yemen continues to fall backward in its social and economic profile..

The situation in Sa'ada is not a very good healthy sign that Yemen is indeed in the right direction in this context. This is the more so, when considering that Yemen has been undergoing a shaky unstable status almost for the past half century. Since September 26, 1962 (and the pre-Revolutionary days of attempted coups), Yemen has witnessed major violent internal conflict, sometimes fuelled by external manipulation almost every 10 years. In addition the series of internal domestic upheavals, disturbances and the rise of crime have produced an unwelcome aura of ongoing instability. This cannot be said to be a healthy benchmark for any ambitious economic planners, who still stubbornly have faith in the ability of Yemen to achieve a respectable economic growth rate and come out with an economy that can provide for the needs of the rapidly growing population.

The Gulf countries, in contrast, are indeed endowed with a very sound economic base for achieving growth and for providing for more than just the basic needs of the people of the respective countries. But oil is not just the fundamental basis for achieving sustainable economic growth, as can be seen from the Omani and Bahraini context and it goes without saying, that these latter states are still able to achieve healthy sustainable economic prosperity, even though their oil and gas resources are relatively meager when compared to their other partners in the GCC. Moreover, as can be seen from the Iraqi model, which is relatively wealthy in terms of resources, the issue is not so much the amount of reserves lying underneath the plateaus and plains of Mesopotamia. Moreover, looking at Iran, which is viewed as a “rogue” state by the United States and other western countries highly influenced by the dreams of the international; Zionist establishment, the economy of the country still enjoys improvement in all the economic and social indicators of development, led especially by the Human Development Index, among others.

The point to be made here is that it is not sufficient to draw up economic plans that are based on theoretical models, many of which give little notice to the human factors involved in development. These human factors would have to rely on having a sound stable economic venue without the problems of social conflict and internal political instability.

Every year this observer has come to Qatar, one can see the importance of political and social stability, as the country witnesses the rapid development that the country continues to enjoy, which the observer cannot fail to see on the ground, even if afflicted with a severe case of cataract. This cannot be said to be the case for Yemen, because Yemen has yet to enjoy a full decade of peace and stability, let alone half a century as such, as its good neighbors have been enjoying.

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.