Tightened Counter-Terror Measures Significantly Damages Yemen’s Economics

40% of State Budget goes to Counter Terrorism

The Al-Qaeda terrorist operations in Yemen have had a direct impact on the national Yemeni economy and have arguably caused poverty and unemployment rates to jump in the country. Particularly they have had an adverse effect on key production and service sectors, besides damaging Yemen›s image at the international and local levels and issues intertwined with national image, especially tourism and investment.

The incident of the two mail bombs sent from Yemen to the United States has made these losses even greater. Following the incident, some countries took some punitive measures against Yemen, such as the suspension of all direct flights from Yemen to both Germany and Holland.

Yemen considered that the decision of flights suspension and exaggerated reactions to the two package bombs hurt Yemen›s efforts in countering terrorism and only serve Al-Qaeda›s interests who feel exultant at achieving such results in damaging Yemen›s interests, reputation and relations with its friends and regional and international partners, which will in turn worsen the feelings of the Arab street.

The government source said it is important that Yemen›s partners and friends stand by Yemen and boost its efforts to inflict a heavy defeat on terror.

The German analyst Estefan Bokhn said, «There is some kind of confusion because Germany is looking for ways to protect itself and citizens from terrorism. It also wants to prove to its citizens that it is taking strict measures to protect them. When the people in Germany hear that in Yemen there is someone who is attempting to mail bombs that could be sent to them, they›ll understand the government›s action and the decision will ease their fear.»

Bokhn went on saying that, «Anyhow, I don›t believe this procedure will last long because it does not serve Germany›s interests even in the long term. I believe that it is only a kind of pressure on the Yemeni government so that it tightens its security and search measure in Sana›a Airport, especially on mail packages sent abroad. Only then, and when the Yemen government proves it is able to do that, will flights be resumed because Germany is not concerned with isolating Yemen, which is a poor country. It is obvious that the isolation policy of this state for a long time will increase the misery suffered by the Yemeni people.»

Extraordinary Measures

At the level of extraordinary and precautionary measures, the security agencies have during the last few days closed the two offices of the two US shipping corporations in Sana›a as per orders issued by the public prosecution. The National Committee of the Civil Aviation Security has approved taking more disciplines and additional measures, especially in Yemeni airports in light of the developed methods adopted by terrorist organizations, taking in consideration that the two suspect packages, intercepted in Dubai and Britain recently, were discovered by high-level intelligence and it was hard to detect them by ordinary means.

The committee, headed by the Yemeni Minister of Transportation, Khaled Ibrahim Al-Wazir, has approved in its meeting the implementation of extraordinary measures of search on all shipments going out of the Yemeni airports, to ensure the security and safety of civil aviation, and implementation of the system of accrediting agents for air cargo to guarantee linking the granting of licenses to them with their provision of international stipulations and the continuation of periodic control over them.

The committee asserted the importance of following the inflow of intelligence data amongst the agencies in all concerned countries to maintain effective and swift counterterrorism.

The committee also revealed a draft bylaw of organizing the airports security unit, which aims at creating a security unit specialized in airport security, training and qualifications as per the highest security standards to enforce the measures of airport protection from any sabotage or terrorist acts. In addition, the unit will work on developing the security services and performance in the Yemeni airports.

The Yemeni committee pointed out that the security measures taken in Yemeni airports in relation to passengers and their possessions as well as to air cargo are very thorough and strict and are conducted by modern and sophisticated equipment and in accordance with the standards laid by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Also, tougher and stricter measures have been taken in the Yemeni airports since last year to maintain protection, security to airports and safety to passengers and aviation movement from any type of illegal intervention, including detection of any explosives or suspected shipments.

In addition, much new equipment has been procured, which made all security measures in Yemeni airports go in line with the international standards of aviation security and counterterrorism. The ICAO granted Yemen at the beginning of the current year 2010 a certificate demonstrating that the measures adopted in Yemeni airports are commensurate with the international measures for aviation and passengers› safety.

On the ground, the Yemeni Interior Ministry announced that it has directed the security departments in the capital Sana›a and in provinces to tighten security measures on vital establishments and facilities in order to prevent any security breaches and keeping security agencies in various provinces at full alert to deal with different possibilities and counter them strictly and fiercely.

The Ministry of Interior also emphasized that it has directed the areas of the security strip in the provinces of Yemen to raise their security vigilance to capture suspected cars and those who are wanted for security reasons and also the unauthorized weapons as well as search passing-by cars in the checkpoints of the security strip.

Governmental Measures
Government sources affirmed that there have been future plans to counter the activity of Al-Qaeda organization and their beginnings were in 2006 and will continue until 2012 for fighting the phenomenon of terrorism and confronting extremism.

Sources said that these plans include continuation of carrying out quality pre-emptive operations against Al-Qaeda operatives and preventing them from carrying out any terrorist operations. The plans also include expansion of creating counterterrorism unit in a number of the republic›s provinces and enhancing coordination amongst the security and military agencies in order to counter terror more effectively. The plans also include installation of a modern information network to the Yemeni airports and ports to capture wanted terrorist elements.

Sources pointed out that among the future plans for counterterrorism is the completion of the infrastructure and equipment necessary for the Coastguard Authority according to a plan prepared for this purpose, completion of the basic infrastructure for the General Authority for Counterterrorism in the Interior Ministry, intensification of awareness campaigns on media outlets and worship places to acquaint the society with the risks of terrorism and mobilize the public opinion to stand against extremist thought and terrorist elements.

The future plans also include continuation of intellectual dialogue with those who were deluded by those astray elements and bring them back to the straightway, the continuation of carrying out some policies and strategies that counter the thoughtprovoking and calling for hatred, extremism and exaggeration, in addition to the continuation of conducting training courses for mosque preachers and guidance-providers to improve their abilities to keep up with the developments in awareness and religious guidance and education.

Sources stressed that Yemen will always be committed to its ethical positions to counter terrorism, which originate from our national and deep rooted conviction that this will serve the interests of Yemen in the first place and the security and stability in the region and in the world generally with regard to the fact that terrorism is a serious international phenomenon that threatens the security, safety and interests of all.

Combating Al-Qaeda elements and their activities requires, in addition to uniting various domestic official and public efforts, the cooperation of the international community to offer generous support to finance the development plans and programs at various levels. This will ensure a proper living standard and keep society safe from religious extremism and create an environment in which the state can run the cycle of development and attract foreign investment that contribute to creating work opportunities for the youth and the unemployed.

It will also contribute to absorbing unemployment and achieve security and stability as the security of Yemen is security for the region and the world.

Economic losses
A government official report, issued last month on October 23rd, revealed that the terrorist attacks on Yemen in 2009 by Al-Qaeda elements caused losses of around US$1 Bn.

The governmental action report of last year pointed out that terrorism has led to limitation of foreign and domestic tourism and delayed achieving the targeted growth. Terrorism has also led to increasing the military and security spending as an inevitable consequence for carrying out pre-emptive and field operations to counter terrorist activity as well as other governmental measures that contributed to the rise of the percentage of the budget deficit from 8% to 9% of the gross domestic product.

Furthermore, terrorist acts affect the political leadership and government officials, and make them preoccupied with finding solutions to them, instead of using these efforts in development – a simple indicator of this is that the government spends 40% of its budget on ‹the war on terror›.

Many donor countries and organizations have halted execution of loan commitments and foreign assistance to our country due to Al-Qaeda terrorist operations, where the allocated loans were at their lowest levels during last year and did not exceed 87 billion riyals (approx US$408 million).