GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Collective Security, Security Communities, the ASEAN Experience and the Gulf Region
Paper Proposal Text :

GCC involvement with Yemen has been a constant feature of the relations between the states of the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the time this has taken place bilaterally between the individual states concerned and has been a major feature of Yemeni politics. The popular uprisings of 2011 were not only major threats to the states where they took place, but they looked as if they might lead to major political changes in the Arab world. GCC states were not immune to these events and, in the case of Bahrain, the GCC as an institution intervened militarily to ensure that the pre-existing order would be prevail.

Yemen presented different challenges. First Yemen is the only peninsula state which is not part of the GCC and second, as so often repeated, is the only poor country in the peninsula, ie a country where the vast majority of the people are poor and state institutions lack the means to finance development or even an acceptable living standard for its population. Third, it is also the most populated state, given that foreign migrant labour form over 40% of the population of Saudi Arabia, the only other state with a similar size population. While popular uprisings were relatively easily controlled in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the situation in Yemen was significantly different, and there the uprising was both larger and able to threaten the existing regime.

To defend its interests in the region, the GCC allied with the major world powers involved in Yemen [USA, UK, France, EU] to attempt to control the outcome of the uprisings as well as to prevent the outbreak of a longer lasting civil war. This resulted in the Gulf Cooperation Council agreement which was finally signed by then president Saleh on 23 November 2011 and which brought about a transition which was supposed to be peaceful and to last two years, at the end of which a new regime was to be created, with a new constitution and a more representative regime. After three years of the transition, the country sank into a full-scale civil war which has been dramatically worsened by the military intervention of the GCC states [with the notable exception of Oman].
The paper will examine the following questions.

- First the political ambiguities of the monarchical undemocratic GCC states being apparently involved in the democratization of the Yemeni state which was already formally democratic under Saleh.

- Second the different approaches of the different GCC states to the Yemeni situation in the course of the current decade; for example Qatar has played a significantly different role through much of the period, but is now involved with the Coalition; since the war started Oman has played a uniquely positive mediating role.

- Third the political impact of the Yemeni situation on the GCC states and in particular the relationship between concern for the spreading of ‘subversive’ thinking and the reluctance of the GCC states to provide employment outlets for the hundreds of thousand Yemenis seeking to migrate there for work
- The relationship between the GCC and the other states involved [US, UK, EU] in their involvement in Yemen since 2011 and up to date
- Close to 18 months after the beginning of the war, what are the prospects for peace and for the GCC playing a constructive role in Yemen?
- How independent is Yemen Likely to be in the future? To what extent can political developments in yemen influence a democratization of the GCC states?