Political Analysis

Feierstein hopes army restructuring will come soon

National Yemen

Gerald Feierstein

By NY Staff

U.S. ambassador in Sana’a Gerald Feierstein recently said that while significant challenges face Yemen’s transitional process, the importance of successes achieved over the past few months since the signing of the power transfer agreement must not be underestimated.

The United States and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council supported the political plan laid out by the Arab Gulf states for the transfer of power in Yemen, the same plan under which ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down.

The U.S. ambassador said that there had been progress in the process of restructuring the armed forces and security agencies, and expressed his hope that the stages for the implementation of the restructuring process would be announced before the end of the year.

“Within a year of the initiative’s signing, we have implemented the core issues of the convention,” said Feierstein.

He also spoke about Yemen’s economic situation and the results of the trip by a group of Yemeni businessmen to the United States last month to look into private sector partnerships with the United States and to attract investments in Yemen.

Feierstein added that the embassy had arranged for meetings between the Yemeni delegation and U.S. businessmen. He also said that the visit focused on energy and water, and that it also aimed to explain the situation in Yemen, that the country was in the process of opening up to the global market.

In this regard, he said that energy and water represented the essence of economic development in Yemen, and that if we develop the economic side, it will be through developing these areas.

The ambassador added that the United States encouraged the Yemeni government to formulate a national strategy for energy, and make it a priority to increase power capacity and strengthen the national grid.

Feierstein used an example of energy production, and said that Yemen produces about 900 megawatts of electricity while the production in Texas, which is equal in area and population to Yemen, is about 73 thousand megawatts.

He pointed out that the production of electric power in the United States is run by the private sector; he believed that the development of power in Yemen would be faster if it was left to the hands of the private sector rather than the government.

The ambassador said that a number of the Yemeni trade delegation members held meetings with their peers in the United States. While there were no contracts signed immediately, there were discussions and plans for ongoing contacts between parties. “I hope that there will be signings of contracts for the establishment of business partnerships between the two sides,” said Feierstein.

In response to a question about the Houthis in north Yemen, he said the group should be included in the Yemeni system in general, the group should be involved in the National Dialogue, and that through the dialogue their issues and grievances will be dealt with.

When asked about Houthi slogans hostile to the United States, Feierstein said, “The Houthis are not our friends, and we prefer that they are not our enemies.” He added that the most important thing is that they join the Yemeni political system.

He did however express concern about Houthi activities which provide an avenue for Iran to intervene in Yemen’s political process and transitional period.

The ambassador declined to comment on the rejection of Houthi representatives for the National Dialogue’s Preparatory Committee.