Yemen’s democratic transition is back on track, but the country faces “serious security challenges,” said Yemeni Foreign Minister Jamal Al-Sallal on Wednesday.
“Political, security and economic challenges are hampering peace and reconciliation efforts in Yemen despite support extended by Arab and Western allies,” said Al-Sallal, who is participating in the high-profile regional security conference in Riyadh.
“Security challenges facing Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are identical … and Yemen has a unique geographical location,” he said.
Yemen’s location along the coast of Red Sea and its control of maritime routes, including Bab El-Mandeb Straits, makes it a country of geostrategic importance.
Referring to terror outfits, such as the Islamic State (IS), the Yemeni foreign minister said that “IS presents a greater threat to the Middle East and Yemen and this extremist organization must be defeated.”
The foreign minister sounded this warning in the wake of the beheadings of Western citizens in Iraq and their evil designs, which call for destabilizing Gulf states, as well as other neighboring countries.
Al-Salal said that the Ansarullah movement, composed mostly of rebels from the Huthi tribe, poses another security challenge to the authorities by organizing protests and sit-ins in the capital Sanaa and other areas.
The Ansarullah, which has opposed the GCC initiative for peace and security in Yemen, has also publicly called for the dissolution of the current Sanaa government.
“They are an imminent threat to our interests everywhere, whether in Iraq or anywhere else,” said the foreign minister. “They are more than just a terrorist group,” he noted.
He reiterated that IS militants have killed countless civilians and terrorized the population of Iraq and the adjoining states in a bloody sweep through the north of the country this summer after gaining strength in Syria’s civil war.
About the economic condition of Yemen, he urged the stakeholders, especially the member nations of the Friends of Yemen group, to help the country by donating the funds they had pledged.
The next international meeting on Yemen will concentrate on setting priorities for action on security and political transition.
The Friends of Yemen group will meet in New York on Sept. 24.
The announcement came after the UN Security Council called for an end to violence in the north of Yemen as Houthi fighters and militants of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fight Yemeni military and security forces.
Al-Salal said that Riyadh and Sanaa have forged closer ties in all fields and confirmed that high-level coordination between the two countries was ongoing to prevent infiltration and smuggling.
He called on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to help Sanaa “rebuild its security apparatus.”

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