By NY Staff
Following the Friends of Yemen Minister meeting held in London on 7 March 2013, Ministers from the Friends will hold the seventh meeting in London on 29 April 2014.
It will be opened by the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and co-chaired by Foreign Minister Dr. Abdu Baker al Qirbi, Deputy Minister for Economic and Cultural Affairs, Dr.] Yousif Al-Saadoon, British Minister for the Middle East, Hugh Robertson and the British International Development Minister, Alan Duncan.
The meeting was supposed to be held in Saudi Arabia but for logistical and political reasons, the meeting was transform to United Kingdom.
Friends of Yemen was established in January 2010 at a meeting of ministers in London to help bolster international political support for Yemen and to assist Yemeni-led efforts to tackle the underlying causes of instability.
In November 2011, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative was signed, marking the beginning of a transition in Yemen between Presidents Saleh to Hadi. The Friends of Yemen support the government during its two year transition, up to and including planned elections in February 2014.
To date, five meetings have taken place: January 24th 2010 (London,) September 24th 2010 (New York,) May 23rd 2012 (Riyadh,) September 27th 2012 (New York,) and this latest one in London.
Friends of Yemen is co-chaired by the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Yemen. It includes 39 countries and international organizations, including the World Bank. It is meant to support Yemen through various political, economic, and security reforms, and also coordinate international assistance.
$7.9 billion in aid was pledged and distributed in 2012. Economist Dr. Saif al-Asali says that donors will not give the money to the Yemeni government itself, saying that previous governments have wasted money which is why donors don’t trust the current ones.
“Governments of Yemen are in the past and present go to these conferences and are not able to follow the donors’ conditions and do not fulfill their obligations to the international community. In every conference, the conditions are the same and the situation as it is doesn’t change.”
Yemen’s economy nearly collapsed during the revolution, because the mass protests brought the country to a standstill. Yemeni stability is seen as important partially because of the country’s location next to Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea shipment route.
Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that Saudi Arabia has pledged most of the $3.25 billion in 2012, though not all of it has been paid. Of that sum, Yemen has received $1 billion in the form of a loan deposited by Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni Central Bank. Riyadh was one of the brokers of Yemen’s 2011 power transfer deal.
“We are counting a lot on the London conference to discuss the issue of releasing the donors funds, estimated at around $8 billion,” Al Qirbi said.
In 2012, Friends of Yemen started to care more about the political side of Yemen ,which is what helped birth the National Dialogue Conference, which was considered to be the best way forward for lasting security and stability.
In 2014, Friends of Yemen agreed to discuss the restructuring of Yemen’s army on April 29th.