GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
potential threats to the territorial settlement of June 2000
Paper Proposal Text :
The regional geopolitics of Saudi-Yemeni relations: potential threats to the territorial settlement of June 2000
Fadhl Almaghafi, PhD
My research questioned whether the territorial solution concretised through the Jeddah Treaty of June 2000 can put an end to Saudi-Yemeni disputes. As such, the research does not seek to question the treaty’s significance but, rather, to place the territorial relationship addressed by the treaty within the more wide-ranging context of Saudi-Yemeni relations as a whole. The research devotes particular attention to two themes anchored in Yemeni domestic politics: the lingering notions of historic national territories, and the corollary, enduring belief that Yemeni state territory had been lost to Saudi Arabia. Aspects of the boundary evolution process are scrutinised, notably the role of the colonial legacy and the unequal power dynamics of regional relations in southern Arabia. The findings suggest that the complex territorial aspects of Saudi-Yemeni relations have retained the potency of jeopardising regional stability today. They also confirm that reaching agreement on a boundary does not necessarily translate into the signatory countries becoming better neighbours. As a result, the Saudi-Yemeni dilemma continues to be – as it always has been - more than just a boundary dispute.
Despite the territorial boundary dispute being officially resolved by the Jeddah Treaty of June 2000, this paper intends to provide an overview of the factual background underpinning the status of Saudi-Yemeni relations post-Jeddah Treaty of June 2000. In particular, the policies conducted since June 2000 by both governments merit serious analysis. Although a decade is a relatively short time in historical terms, hints and signs of the likely success of the treaty as a durable territorial settlement can already be glimpsed in Saudi and Yemeni policies and attitudes in the period since the treaty’s signature. In this context, the paper examines a number of issues and challenges that have arisen in the relationship between Riyadh and Sana’a in the post-Treaty period. Moreover, several key aspects of Saudi-Yemeni relations during the post-settlement era will be highlighted, with particular attention given to public expressions of disappointment in Yemen regarding the outcomes of the Jeddah Treaty.
The paper will also illustrate the reasons why - despite the territorial settlement of June 2000 - the situation must continue to be monitored and managed carefully, particularly in light of the rising prominence of nationalistic sentiments in Yemeni public discourse. The prime objective of such an analysis would be to address possible future threats to the territorial settlement, including the increasingly voiced fears that the territorial issue has become an instrument for regional geopolitics. In this regard, particular attention has been drawn to the role of Iran, with many critics accusing it of interference in the political situation both within Yemen itself and in its relations with its northern neighbour.