Monday, 22 November 2010

The Gulf needs stable Yemen, say Arab parliamentary leaders

Source: The UAE-based National, by Kareem Shaheen

ABU DHABI- Failing to tackle terrorism in Yemen could lead to instability in the Gulf, a top Arab parliamentarian warned yesterday.

Noureddine Bouchkouj, the secretary general of the Arab Parliamentary Union, urged the Arab world, especially the GCC, to assist Yemen immediately with development, financial and military aid to curb the terrorist threats it faces.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a major GCC gathering in Abu Dhabi at which Gulf parliamentary leaders stressed their commitment to the country ahead of the GCC summit next month . Supporting the peace process in Yemen and fighting terrorism were crucial to the region, they said.

The Gulf countries are going ahead with the plan to hold a football competition, the Gulf Cup, in Yemen despite worries that it could be the target of a terrorist attack. Thirty thousand Yemeni troops have been called in to help secure the competition.

"Yemen is facing a major conspiracy that can impact its unity and stability," warned Mr Bouchkouj.

"If Yemen's stability is affected, the stability of the entire Gulf region is in danger."
"The Arab countries now must move before it is too late," he said. "It is a situation that obliges [Yemen's] brethren to move to assist it," he said.

"The Gulf countries have a big role to play for the benefit of Yemen, because Yemen is part of this region geographically and it has to be part of it politically and economically as well.
"The Arab countries, and the Gulf countries in particular, have to provide Yemen with all forms of aid to strengthen its security and stability," he added.

Gulf parliaments had a major role to play in raising awareness of the situation in Yemen as problems there could be a forerunner of instability elsewhere in the region, he said.

"Yemen today is in danger and we have to stand by it and not just watch and feel sorry for it," he said.

The desire for stability and support for Yemen was echoed by other officials attending the meeting.

In a joint statement, the speakers of the GCC's parliaments said they were "worried" about international terrorism and the latest techniques being used by terrorists. They cited the cargo bomb plots uncovered earlier this month, warning the attempted attacks could indicate the threat from terrorism was on the rise.

Tips from Saudi Arabian intelligence allowed police in Dubai and London to intercept the two cargo bombs bound for the US, which some officials said were intended to detonate mid-flight. The packages originated in Yemen, and al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility.

The speakers said they were hopeful that Yemen would be able to "destroy" such terrorist activities on its lands.

Arab unity was needed to increase security in the region, said Amal al Qubaisi, a member of the UAE FNC's foreign affairs committee.

"Yemen's stability is important as a brotherly [Arab] nation," she said.
"It is even more important because of our neighbourly relations and to avoid exporting terrorism or extremism," she said.

The role of Gulf countries was to join with Yemen in fighting terrorism, said Abdul Rahman al Atiyyah, the secretary general of the GCC.

That role included "stressing Yemen's stability and unity and the prosperity of its people, and standing with them in fighting terrorism and anything that harms security", he said.

There were many development plans that GCC countries were working on with Yemen, he said, and Yemen was increasingly involved in GCC initiatives and organisations, including health and education projects.

"Yemen is a neighbouring country and its security and stability is vital," said Abdulaziz al Ghurair, the speaker of the FNC, who chaired the meeting. "We support our brothers in Yemen because it is a neighbouring country and it affects us."

Mr al Ghurair expressed hope that the Gulf countries could play a positive role in making Yemen more peaceful.

Gulf parliaments could promote Yemen's cause in the international arena and garner support for the country around the world in its attempt to promote peace internally, he said

Yemen's government has been criticised for failing to curb threats of terrorism from al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula.

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