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Guest Thinkers

The EU Has a Good Idea

One of the difficulties of following or writing about Yemen is that alarmism tends to become a series of “oh, and also”, which lessenes its impact. Right now it looks like the southern issue- that ancient deadlock- is going to overwhelm the other short-term crises, as both sides are dancing toward the precipice, and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to stop the music. As nerve-wracking as this is, though, there is an “oh, and also” coming up. Oh, and also, al-Qaeda is around. None of the threasts to Yemen’s relative stability go away when another pops-up, like the cruelest game of whack-a-mole ever.

Reuters has an interview today with Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s anti-terrorism chief. The main thrust of the article is that the Gulf Arab states need to do more to help Yemen and Pakistan. De Kerchove talks about Saudi Arabis doing a better job of monitoring its borders, and all of the countries to tighten up the money flowing from their rich states to poor militant. Both of these steps are needed, but neither goes far enough.

Yemen has been trying to tie its destiny to that of the Gulf states, who really don’t want much to do with their desperately-poor, unstable and possibly crazy neighbor. Yemen is that ramshackle house in the neighborhood whose eaves are falling and might have thousands of cats and dead trees in the front (economically and politically, of course- Yemen is an impossibly wierd and beautiful place). One can imagine why the more stable Gulf states want nothing to do with it- and, to be fair, the EU itself is leery of Eastern European basketcase states.

But just as the EU has been trying to coax the potentially destablizing Serbian state into the fold of normalcy, Yemen’s neighbors, if for no reason other than self-interest, need to do more than treat Yemen like a crazy and disreputable uncle. Al-Qaeda’s goal is to destabilize the Yemeni state, and as Greg blurbed about, the one thing that has been keeping it together is money. The Gulf states were hit had by the recession, but the ramifications of Yemen’s collapse would be a lot more costly. The EU and US need to step up pressure on the richer Gulf states to provide aid to Yemen.

Oh, and there is also the south.


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