Wandering in Yemen

New Article: Blessing in Disguise – End of Saudi Aid to Yemen

My op-ed for al-Jazeera English:

In a speech delivered in Washington DC this week, Prince Turki bin Faisal,  Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States, confirmed that Saudi aid to its southern neighbour, Yemen, was “on hold, until the country settles down”.

Saudi aid to Yemen goes back decades, and is the bedrock of Saudi’s foreign policy in that country. The Saudis have stepped in when the Yemeni government has been in desperate need, most recently paying the salaries of civil servants, and supplying Yemen with fuel as shortages threatened the poorest nation in the Middle East.

Yet, despite the apparent benefits of Saudi aid, the upshot is that the Saudi presence in Yemen has been debilitating for the latter. In the long term, any weakening of Saudi presence in Yemen, as a suspension of aid will almost certainly bring, is beneficial to Yemen, and will give breathing space for it to become independent of its “big brother” next door.

This denial of aid may be surprising to some who see aid as necessary for Yemen following the tumultuous period since the 2011 uprising that deposed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen is not in a position to be left alone – with a weak economy and an even weaker central government – in the face of threats to its national security such as secessionists in the south, and a growing al-Qaeda insurgency.”

For the rest of the article please click here.

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