Think Tanks
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Yemen's Political Crisis: The Role of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States

The relationships between Yemen and its Gulf neighbours are coming under increased pressures as the Arab Spring sweeps the region.

A new Chatham House briefing paper, Yemen and the Gulf States: Elite Politics, Street Protests and Regional Diplomacy, examines how these changes will impact on the entrenched elite structures which have defined regional diplomacy for so long and analyses the critical role of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in addressing the security risks posed by the situation in Yemen.

Dramatic political change in Yemen could lead to violent upheaval and humanitarian crisis, against the backdrop of the country's deteriorating economic and security conditions. Yet it might also result in a new, more legitimate political regime. Certainly, the status quo is no longer tenable.

The international community and the GCC states are united on the need for a managed transfer of power. However, the current stalemate reveals the GCC's limited leverage to negotiate a transition and, beyond that, to enforce implementation of any deal. The Arab Spring has generated reformist pressures and divergent responses within the Gulf monarchies themselves. This increases the complexity of the policy landscape regarding Yemen.

Saudi Arabia maintains extensive transnational patronage networks in Yemen. Many Yemenis believe it is trying to influence the outcome of political change and that succession dynamics within the Saudi royal family are affecting the calculations of Yemeni political actors.

Meanwhile, the functions of government are paralysed, commodity prices are rising and the risk of conflict between rival military factions remains high. The absence of grass-roots pro-democracy protestors from the negotiations limits their role in shaping the new dispensation.

The authors argue that there is considerable scope for the GCC states to increase their humanitarian assistance, and to play a more prominent role within the United Nations' emergency response.

Finally, with ongoing US drone attacks in Yemen and a renewed focus on combating Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the report says it is worth exploring the divergent counter-terrorism approaches of Western and GCC states.

Notes to Editors

Read Yemen and the Gulf States: Elite Politics, Street Protests and Regional Diplomacy >>
A Chatham House Briefing Paper by Ginny Hill and Gerd Nonneman.

The authors are available to interview:

Ginny Hill: +44 (0)7779 790 356
Gerd Nonneman: +44 (0)7748 621 745

Chatham House Press Office
Nicola Norton: +44 (0)20 7957 5739 / +44 (0)7917 757 528
Sara Karnas: +44 (0)20 7314 2787 / +44 (0)7775 037 700

More research can be found on the Yemen Forum.


Are you wasting budget on cyber training?