YT Seminar on Relations with Saudi Arabia Duwaimah: Lost & Found [Archives:1998/30/Front Page]

July 27 1998

Yemen Times will organize a brainstorming session on Thursday, July 30th, to discuss Yemeni-Saudi relations. Dr. Mohammed Qubati will coordinate the talks.
Last week, Yemeni-Saudi relations witnessed a visible deterioration. There has been a military flare-up off Meidi city on the Red Sea. Saudi naval forces attacked and occupied the island of Duwaimah. The island was returned to Yemen following high-level contacts.
Negotiations between Yemeni and Saudi officials have never really ceased. Yemenis believe that stability and prosperity in their country directly depend on good understanding with the kingdom. They also believe that that can be achieved through candid and frank talks.
The problem has been too much niceties in the talks when the 2 sides meet. The hugging and kissing replaces the hard negotiations they should engage in. However, observers note that the delegates have no real power to decide on any matter. “A political decision from the top level is needed to make break-throughs in most matters, including the small ones,” said an opposition politician in Sanaa.
Foreign diplomats in the region also note the over-loaded package of sensitivities that each side brings to the negotiation table. “The two sides need confidence building steps in order to overcome their paranoias,” a Western ambassador in Sanaa said. That is a big, although do-able, task.