Yemeni- Saudi relations leave apprehension behind [Archives:2005/870/Front Page]

August 22 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
SANAA- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had late last week released 1200 Yemeni detainees accused with various charges, mainly illegitimate entry into the kingdom by infiltrating through its international borders. Incidents of illegal infiltrations into the Saudi territories by Yemeni nationals reached the peak during the few past years in consequence to deteriorating economic situation in Yemen.

The Saudi decision has received warm popular and official welcome in Yemen especially that it had under a direct order by King Abdullah Abdulaziz in less than one month since his ascension of the throne in the kingdom. King Abdullah is famous for his high regard to the Yemeni people.

Officially, the Yemeni welcome came as president Ali Abdullah Saleh made telephone discussion last Friday with he king, expressing the Yemeni people's gratitude for the release of the 1200 Yemeni prisoners.

Observers believe that the King's decision is an important step towards deepening and improvement of the Saudi- Yemeni relations towards better normalization. These relations used to suffer from apprehension since the second Gulf war. A million Yemenis, who left the kingdom and lost their jobs, were the victims of this apprehension. They contributed to increase rate of unemployment in Yemen. They did not find any jobs in their home country because of recession in investment projects. Their only way out as they see it, was to go back to the kingdom, in the hope of finding better chances to improve their living conditions.

The Saudi terms for going into the kingdom were very strict not only for the Yemenis in particular, but for all those who enter the kingdom.

The terms were beyond the means of the Yemeni people because they stipulate a sponsor, and a sum of money for the visa. The Saudi measures have their justification after the September 11 events and measures for the war on terror.

By infiltration into the Saudi territories, the Yemeni workers who had lost everything thought Saudi Arabia might give them back some of what they had lost. They think infiltration through borders would cost them nothing. Instead of paying money amounting sometimes to three thousand dollars for buying visa, they just go through the borders and they get jobs by the help of inhabitants living in border towns, who respect and like them. They are always afraid of being captured especially after the intensive patrols that followed the growing number of infiltration cases, and the Saudi concerns when the terrorists who hit the kingdom fled into Yemen.

Things have changed today, with the removal of the Yemeni fear of Saudi intervention into Yemeni affairs. That had ended with the conclusion of borders demarcation treaty by the two countries.

Many changes had taken place following the 9/11 events and the policy of war on terror has enforced a new agenda in the state relations, especially the Arab relations. Thus, cooperation and coordination in fighting terror has the most important article of relations between states. The Yemeni-Saudi cooperation in the area of fighting terror is successful, by which the two countries managed to achieve many successes.

Yemen believes that the realization of real development is the means for fighting terror. This goal cannot be attained but through cooperation with its neighbors, particularly with the Saudi Arabia. Yemen is still hopeful that the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, would have a more positive stand regarding Yemen's full membership of the Gulf Cooperation Council, instead of partial one.