GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
The Scenario of the Separation of South of Yemen: The Effects on the GCC Countries Security
Paper Proposal Text :
The Scenario of the Separation of South of Yemen: The Effects on the GCC Countries Security
Dr. Ashraf Mohamed Kisk
The Head of the Strategic Studies Program
Bahrain Center for Energy, International and Strategic Studies

With the acceleration of the Yemeni Crisis under the Houthis control of wide-spread area of Yemen, and the control of the southern movement of over than 60% of the land area of the Yemeni state, with these areas being rich with oil and having the biggest port in the country “Aden Port”, beside other land and sea ports, which make it a strategic area not only on the regional level, but on the international level as well, it is possible that the south will declare its independence, as there are indicators in this context related to history and the weakness of the Yemeni state. There is also the “contagion effect”, taking into consideration what is happening in some Arab countries like “Syria, Iraq, and Libya”. This would present two questions: First: What is the effect of that separation on the security of the GCC countries? Second: What is the Gulf policies needed towards the expected scenarios for the Yemeni crisis on the near and long term?
First: The Effect of the South of Yemen Separation on the Security of GCC Countries:
The separation of the South might be the least harming solutions among “the worst options” for the GCC countries. This might happen through disengagement and restoring the Arabian South state, or a referendum can be conducted for the people of the south themselves, but this requires some constitutional foundations. Although the GCC countries confirmed, after the 1994 war which was considered as a failed separation trial, that unity cannot be enforced, this option might have some consequences for GCC countries, as following:
1. The growing influence of Al-Qaeda in Yemen:
This comes with the rough geography in Yemen, and the lack of state capabilities to control all of its land areas, which will make it a safe haven for Al-Qaeda, as its members can sneak through borders with Oman which exceed 280 kilometers, through Dhofar governorate which is located at the south-east of Yemen. Consequently, it will be a crossing for drugs and weapons smugglers. Furthermore, the revolution can be exported to Dhofar territory under the claim of the historical and geographical unity between Dhofar and Hadramawt, as well as a refugee problem might appear as it is expected that thousands of Yemenis will head to these areas to build camps to escape from ongoing fight in Yemen. At the same time, the Saudi borders, estimated by 1800 kilometers, will be another destination for these refugees. In this context, it is worth mentioning that KSA started building an iron fence on its borders with Yemen, which increases the security and economic burdens on KSA.
2. Fostering the Iranian influence in Yemen:
This was confirmed through many indicators like the Iranian trials to bring in developed weapons to Yemen, the arrest of some spying networks in Sanaa, and what was reported about the existence of agents from the Iranian Republican Guards to work in the missile bases in Eretria. So Iran is working on closing its circle of influence around the GGC countries, and this will result in a change in the current balance of power. Consequently, the ability to take strategic decisions by GCC countries could be limited.
3. The retreat of the concept of the unified national state:
In the case of the separation of the Yemeni South, this means that the small components of the territorial nature have overcome the national state concept, and this will have a negative effect on the social components of Yemen and then on the GCC countries.
4. The sectarian repercussions:
Although Houthis represent only 10% of the Yemeni population – according to statements released in this regard -, the sectarian consequences should be taken into consideration because the creation of a new sectarian state at the borders of KSA means that the Iranian revolution experience will happen again.
5. The possibility of international interference in Yemen:
There are some expectations that western forces might be sent to Yemen, and there is reflection on how this will affect the current equation of regional security as a whole.
Second: The Gulf Policies Required towards the Expected Scenarios for the Yemeni Crisis:
Although the GCC countries have confirmed that that they support the political process in Yemen, they did not declare their support for any options except for their supporting the resigned Yemeni president. However, the developments on the ground might create new situations, and regardless these developments, the GCC countries need to go through two connected tracks as following:
First track: on the near term:
- To create communication channels with all actors in Yemen, and there are lessons that can be considered from the Iraqi experience as the Iranian influence in Iraq grew after 003 because of the regression of the Gulf role.
- The possibility of offering to host a Yemeni dialogue between all parties by the GCC, while specifying the purpose and the issues to be discussed, aiming at producing a consensual roadmap for the political parties in Yemen. This can be supported by two points: First: The Gulf countries launched the Gulf initiative in 2011 which defused tension in Yemen. Second: The influence of KSA in Yemen through having close relations with tribal leaders.
Second: on the long term:
Given that Yemen is a fundamental part of the texture of the Arabian peninsula, as it is connected to the GCC countries on the historical, ethnic, and national levels, the thing that makes it of great importance for the GCC countries, the GCC countries are concerned more than others with the Yemeni issue, and they interact with it whether by having an effect on the issue or being affected by it. So the Gulf efforts towards Yemen should be institutionalized according to two tracks:
The first track: Economy
The historical background of the political transformation process indicates that the countries with limited resources might take longer to achieve the transformation. On the other hand, by analyzing all cases similar to the Yemeni situation, it can be recommended that it is better of the GCC countries to stop the aggravation of the crisis. Consequently, practical Gulf mechanisms that are sustainable can be suggested to support Yemen, especially on the economic level, “Marshall Plan to support Yemen”.
The second track: Security “6+1+1 formula”
Although the Gulf Cooperation Council was founded to be exclusive, this does not mean that a formula can be created to connect the Council as a sub-regional organization with a country or two. There are many models that can be followed. In this context, the added value that can be provided by Yemen can be studied (or any other country that can be included) and how this will be reflected on Yemen at the same time.