Yemen and the Gulf: shared emotions and economic interests [Archives:2006/935/Opinion]

April 6 2006

By: Fadhel Al-Maghafi
Extravagant fanaticism is the primary reason behind Arabs' failure to utilize common geographical and historical features and other components to establish relationships and interests achieving integration – the ideal desire for the majority of the Arabs. We tend to think about unity from a negative aspect in our nomadic and tribal cultures (alasabiah). The situation has been complicated as we have also lacked for a rational mechanism necessary for achieving such aims.

Discussions of such issues seem to be the victim of misunderstanding of the present trend in international relations, namely regional integration. Thus, it is common to read efforts intending to differentiate between the economic benefits or emotional components. The latter include elements such as geography, history and culture etc.

Such efforts think our problem is the result of mixing the two and that the solution will be solved by separating them from each other. People backing this viewpoint cite the European experience claiming that the success in Europe was due to focusing on the economic interests.

The European example

Human emotional aspect in the European Union's experience is not neglected; rather it is a significant point. Europe includes several countries and each belongs to a different nation and has its own language. The European intellect remained engaged in developing relations between the European countries since Westville's peace conferences in 1664, which was held to end the famous war lasted for almost three decades. For nearly three centuries, the Europeans failed to achieve the goals of Westville's and their continent experienced a spate of conflicts and wars.

The human was the axis of mature thinking in Europe in the 1950s, despite the fact that the European Union began to move in iron and steel areas. The continent has just gotten rid of World War II; however, Europe was the primary cause of that war. Peace, which fathers failed to achieve following Westville's 17th century conference, became the goal sought by 20th century grandchildren.

The European countries expanded the areas of cooperation, as prosperity and sustainable stability were their main objectives. After that, they paid closer attention to development and established especial relationships even with countries west of the continent that have no EU memberships but only abide by EU conventions.

After the Cold War was over, the EU countries invited other countries in East Europe to join the EU in a sincere effort to make all these countries EU members. This continent extends southward to North Africa and the Mediterranean countries to establish constructive relations. Security, human rights and stability were among prime objectives. This historical experience is not less important than connecting the common human qualities with the economic interests. All these matters are some of the conditions for the EU entry and they are also the main duties of EU apparatuses in Brussels and other European cities.

Common division remained present in many areas helping Europeans unite before federal laws without any distinction. European citizens enjoy the same rights, e.g., any French national residing in London has the right to vote in British local and parliamentary elections and can be a voter or a candidate even though political unity has not been achieved yet. it has become customary for any citizen to resort to the European Court if he felt oppressed in local courts. So, people expected declaration of a unified European country and European identity after those countries unified their currencies.

One can say that Europeans made search for qualities in common means to fulfill national needs in the framework of aspirations of the region to which they belong. This process aimed to further stability and luxury via equal opportunities and rights, with all governments undergoing exemplary standards EU institutions utilized to monitor economic, political and legal performance of governments without any distinction.

Aiming to make a common human division, new legislation approved by European countries restricted those coming from outside the continent. Such legislation opens the door for nationals in the continent who have similar culture. The new European regulations included language and culture tests. It is necessary to pass such tests to be allowed to reside and work in the continent, as well as to obtain the European citizenship. Social integration and security for these countries is the main purpose.

Yemen and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries

Cooperation in development between countries in the Arabian Peninsula is due to provide many advantages better than what a single country can achieve. Single nations have become less able to fulfill their progress and development ambitions and confront challenges. Nowadays, other standards – more important than the commercial scale and debtor and creditor accounts – govern international relations.

It is the right of politicians and economics in the Gulf to think deeply before approving Yemen's GCC entry, but is it wise that Yemen's GCC admission must be based on economic comparisons? The persistent question is: Do Gulf countries benefit from the lack of balance between Yemen's situation and the situations of its neighboring countries?

Nowadays, Yemen is the poorest country and the comparison between Yemen's average per capita income estimated at $510 and other Gulf countries at $13,500 is terrible. Average per capita in the United Arab Emirates exceeds $40,000. We should not be amazed at these figures, as Gulf countries still suffer infringements, violations and lack infrastructure, roads, schools and universities. Although rich, Gulf countries cannot claim that they have strong economic infrastructure and are able to face challenges and fulfill future needs.

According to U.N. reports, GCC countries depend on a single commodity and their economic problem is attributed to this fact, while specialized economic studies confirm that wealth is not guaranteed and label these countries under the so-called “Bubble Economy.” Consequences the Gulf experienced following Kuwait's 1990 occupation provided clear-cut evidence about their ailing economies which have only recovered following the rise of oil prices over the past few months.

International relations in the era of globalization and the small village turned out to be complicated and overlapping, until it has become difficult for anyone to differentiate between what is national and what is international. Today's global challenges include terrorism, natural disasters, spreading diseases and smuggling, plus a large number of international affairs representing international work components. The world seems to experience cross-border issues.

In the shadow of globalization, Gulf countries are obliged to adopt legislation permitting naturalization and granting foreigners ownership and citizenship rights. However, Yemenis were deprived of these utilities and tended to work in illegal manners. GCC countries are requested to approve Yemen's GCC admission and establish brotherly ties to achieve peninsula Arabs' goals and ambitions for cooperation and integration. Every Gulf nation must think deeply about how to confront challenges to their daily affairs.

Efforts to establishing an effective regional system between the Gulf countries and Yemen will succeed if it is based on unified standards and all the countries concerned must undergo evaluation and tests similar to those adopted by other successful examples. The belief that Yemen is the only country that needs to be qualified is not true, as all must be qualified for regional integration work and interaction in a single political, economic and social crucible.

To sum up, the days to come are expected to reveal that Gulf national interests will profit from this partnership before such partnership turns into a brotherly contribution to Yemen. What Yemen offers is not merely emotional; rather, it is related to economy, politics and security.

Fadhel Al-Maghafi is a Yemeni diplomate. He is the cheif editor of 'The Diplomate' magazine.