Last Updated: Tue Dec 20, 2011 17:37 pm (KSA) 14:37 pm (GMT)

What can Yemenis hope to gain from GCC summit?

A woman, with her son lying on her lap, sits in front of a closed store in the southern Yemeni city of Taez. (Reuters)
A woman, with her son lying on her lap, sits in front of a closed store in the southern Yemeni city of Taez. (Reuters)

Yemeni Foreign Minister, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Garbi said on Tuesday that the biggest challenge facing Yemen today is economic as the political turmoil has led to a mass downgrading of the country’s financial system over the past 10 months.

Persisting poverty, shortage of fuel, rising prices of food and water and breakdown of public services have surfaced in various guises across the country since the civil unrest began early in the year.

Dr. Garbi hoped the summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council would address Yemen’s most pressing needs.

“We hope the GCC summit will take a supportive role towards resolving crises facing Yemen and the transitional government,” he said in an interview with Al Riyadh newspaper. He said he discussed the implementation of the Gulf initiative with foreign ministers of the GCC countries as well as ways of working with one another.

My main mission when meeting Arab foreign ministers at the GCC summit is to offer our sincere appreciation and gratitude for all their efforts and help during the past months which resulted in the formation of the initiative.

“Yemen’s early presidential elections are set to be held on February 21, 2012 and this will be the time to re-shape the future of the country by establishing a national dialogue that would include all political parties through non-governmental communities. Also, we hope with the partnership with GCC, Yemen will achieve economic development, stability, security, and freedom,” he said.

Meanwhile, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abulaziz ordered the foreign ministry to provide Yemen with its urgent needs, particularly fuel, the Yemeni state news agency Saba reported Monday.

The decision was made during a telephone conversation on Monday between Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Yemeni Vice-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, according to the statement.

The uprising which erupted in Yemen early this year was initially due to high levels of unemployment, deteriorating economic conditions, and corruption among officials as well as against the government’s proposal to modify the country’s constitution. According to the Human Development Index of 2011, Yemen rates the fourth lowest in the Arab world, after Sudan, Djibouti and Mauritania.

Nearly half of Yemen’s populations of 24 million lives below the poverty line, almost seven million of them have no access to three meals a day, and 35 percent have no access to employment, according to international aid organization Oxfam. These numbers are subject to an increase.

In related news, United Nation’s envoy to Yemen, Jamal bin Omar said on Saturday that the political situation in Yemen was progressing positively.

He told Saba news agency on Saturday that the international community has been following up the situation in Yemen adding that he is to present his report to the Security Council on December 21.

Yemen Observer journal cited Dr. Mohammed Al Sabri, an analyst on Yemen’s economy, as saying “If the government is able to fix the economic problems then it will be successful in other areas. The essential problem is economic more than political, so the new government should not be confused by what is being said about the country’s economy having collapsed; it is not collapsed but it had only some stagnancy.”

He believes “the Yemeni economy can rise again with the minimum cost.”

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