Yemen’s Arab role and conflict management in the area [Archives:2007/1030/Opinion]

March 5 2007

Dr. Wahiba Fare'
It is without doubt that Yemen has played an important role regionally and internationally following to its reunification. It has assumed a number of roles that enhance the trust in Yemen to become a partner in issues that concern the area, especially in its Arab surroundings.

Further, the international events following September 11 have lead to changing political roles and the Yemeni diplomatic work has expanded. After the Gulf War and civil war of 1994, some observers thought Yemen's role will be confined to restoring the Yemeni house from inside and its engagement in political and economic reforms would lead it out the international and Arab club.

However, Yemen came out those crises with more power and became one of the countries to adopt democracy and multiparty politics and secure the internal situation even before international terrorism came out, pressuring all countries in the area to implement political reforms.

Towards the end of the past century, Yemen adopted many resolutions with more reforms and turned to neighboring countries as an economic and political partner. These steps included preparing the Yemeni economy to keep pace with Gulf economies. Further, Yemen exerted efforts to achieve reconciliation between different parties in Somalia, together with its balanced attitude of Palestinian elections.

Yemen's efforts are underway to join the World Trade Organization to safeguard its attainments resulting from the bilateral agreements with European countries. This step was preceded by a package of reforms in laws to raise development performance and enhance and revitalize partnership with the private sector.

Additionally, Yemen overcame a number of political problems, especially with neighboring countries and approved of arbitration on Hunish Islands with Eritrea. It also marked the borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia via peaceful dialogue and away from armed clashes. Yemen is affected by clashes in the Horn of Africa, Yemen received thousands of refugees under human and moral obligations and this led Yemen to develop its relations with organizations interested in this human rights.

Yemen's role was not confined to dialoguing with neighbors over borders and resolving them, but it followed a high diplomacy to find solutions from a national, Arab and human aspects. The Yemeni diplomacy extended to include the whole Arab world with firm attitudes.

Yemen stood by Palestinian people and presented many initiatives and it also adopted and defended their case in all international conferences. Though short of resources, Yemen provided more support than countries that surpass it in resources.

It also backed the Iraqi people to avoid the military attack and the international coalition's resolutions, being fully aware of the risks ensuing from the intervention of foreign countries. Further, it was against the war resolutions and dominance and occupation and warned of risks of dividing Iraqi people and the intervention in its internal problems. Not only this, but the Yemeni leadership tried to resolve pending problems in Somalia with dialogue between warring parties and asked the Arab League to set up a fund to support Somalia's reconstruction. It also played an important role in the Syrian-Lebanese issue and called for dialogue in Darfur's and supported the Sudanese government to dominate the whole Sudanese land.

Yemen's initiative, announced by President Saleh, to reform the Arab League was of high importance, particularly when it synchronized with the reforms calls of the international blocks. When the Arab League's system was in need for modernizations as a base for building a joint Arab work' mechanism, Yemen called for making reforms to the system. This move prompted other Arab countries to raise comments over the league and its performance together with its charter and it resulted in amendments to some articles in the league's charter and further establishing an Arab Parliament. The Parliament held its first round in December 2005 and the initiative also led to activation of Arab Foreign Minster's periodic meetings and updating some work mechanisms.

Yemen, with efforts exerted at the present time, has turned to the initiative-supplier attitude and this has earned Yemen the appreciation and respect of the international community. This attitude encouraged all parties to consider Yemen a neutral party and thus Yemen was to shoulder regional and international burden. It exerted efforts to spread peace and reconciliation between neighboring countries which resulted in Sana'a Congregation Summit including four countries: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen. The congregation helped serve the stability and security in the area and fight terrorism. This is Yemen over the past 15 years of democracy that adopted democracy and political reforms via national and unforced wish.

Internal and external factors helped the development and democratic transformation in Yemen and they are based on the national unity. The democratic influence Yemen exercises in the area is a strong one and it has no likeness, being based on democracy that creates development. This democracy is not to be imitated as it exited under certain conditions and it was made under Yemen's wish and not forced by others, and for the sake of Yemeni people.

Dr. Wahiba Fare' is a Yemeni professor and president of Queen Arwa University. She is also head of the National Center for Vocational Education. She was previously minister of Human Rights.