Civil State Will Elude Yemen Without Security

By Fakhri al-Arashi

Security is always the centerpiece of any discussion focused on the development of Yemen and for good reason too. Simply because with security, there is safety, stability and the consistent infrastructure one needs for a normal functioning life.

My thoughts come as I recently attended a dinner party at the Sheba Hotel in honor of Jamal Bin Omer, UN Envoy to Yemen. In a statement, Bin Omer stressed that the national unity government must address security, so that it can they can work to stabilize, and then grow Yemen’s economy. Throughout the event, the topic of security was central to every guest’s mind.

When I met with the various guests at the event, I luckily came across the newly appointed Minister of the Interior, Major General Dr. Abdul-Qadir Mohammed Gahtan, who was avoiding the crowds at the gala party. I introduced myself, congratulated the minister on his appointment then promptly informed him about how the public was suffering for check point overkill on the main streets of Sana’a. However, during my lecture, the Deputy British Ambassador interrupted and expressed her government’s concern of the security of Yemen to Dr. Abdul Qadir Moahmmed Gahtan.

Shortly after, the German Ambassador expressed his concerns regarding security and asked what could be done. He was shortly followed by the French Ambassador, the Turkey Deputy Head of Mission, and the UNHCR Representative, and a bevy of prominent officials, all with the same messages of concern about security and the forefront of their mind.

It was in that moment that I realized just how important security was to the success of the national consensus government. This forced me to reassess Yemen’s current security situation I then realized just how much security deteriorated in the past 10 months due to the escalation of events that toppled President Saleh from the presidency. This was in no large part due to the many security initiatives sponsored by such countries of representatives at the gala that were canceled or suspended during the uprising.

Guest noted that many preexisting security systems will need a complete overhaul, including air flight security systems, anti-terrorism projects, security training projects, coast guard systems and so on. All of these systems must be addressed as Yemen’s future stability will depend on how well they operate.

Yet to do this, I know it cannot be done alone. During my conversation with Dr. Abdul-Qadir I realized that security just isn’t about a policeman and his gun, but involves more nuanced aspects that can’t be fully addressed unless Yemen’s government works with its international partners.

Security is one of the hundreds of important issues like tourism, trade and investment that will make a tremendous impact on the future of Yemen. However, security might just be the most important of all of them. Security is a circle that never ends – security needs stability, and with stability comes tourism, trade and investment.

Yemen must work quickly to establish comprehensive security. If the government can do this, it will make all the difference for Yemen’s future.