Gulf loses confidence in Yemen after Houthi takeover

Gulf loses confidence in Yemen after Houthi takeover
Government faces losing much-needed financial support after Houthi movement takeover of Sanaa.
3 min read
05 December, 2014
Saudi Arabia has reportedly frozen aid after the Houthi takeover of Sanaa [AFP]

Yemen is facing the loss of much needed financial support from the Gulf states after the Houthi takeover of the capital, Sanaa, and government institutions.

Last week, the Gulf Cooperation Council group of states sent its envoy, Saleh al-Qanaeer, to Sanaa on his first visit since the Houthi movement took control of the city. He met the prime minister, Khaled Mahafoudh Bahah, on Tuesday to assure him that the GCC stood by his government.

"The GCC stands by legitimacy in Yemen because the council is interested in its unity, security and stability," he said.

     [The GCC] is confident that Yemenis will not let their country be changed by disagreements.
- Salah al-Qanaeer, GCC envoy to Yemen

"It is confident that Yemenis will not let their country be changed by disagreements and narrow interests."

But behind the scenes, the mood is somewhat different.

A government source told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "The Gulf states' governments have agreed to not give any support to Yemen until the situation get better, in regards to the militias' control of the state's institutions."

"The GCC states, primarily Saudi Arabia, have lost their confidence in Yemen's ability to keep its promises and its authority, especially given the barrage of accusations against officials of being unable to cope with or colluding with the Houthi expansion."

UAE backs out of cash aid

has also learned that the UAE has recently backed out of a $1bn loan to the Yemeni central bank for fear the money may end up with armed groups and not the state.

Local media recently revealed that the Yemeni treasury might not be able pay salaries to government workers in coming months because donors were pulling support.

However, the spokesman for the ministry of finance, Jamil Muhsin al-Dais, denied this. "There is no validity to this news and it is guaranteed that workers will be paid their salaries," told the Saba news agency on Monday.

"The difficulties the ministry is facing are largely focused on paying existing commitments in capital and investments."

Dais did not deny the Gulf had pulled its financial support from the government.

Government abandoned

Then there is Saudi Arabia. Nadia al-Saqqaf, Yemen's minister of information, said last week that the Saudis had abandoned their support of the current government.

     The GCC states, primarily Saudi Arabia, have lost their confidence in Yemen's ability to keep its promises.
- Government source

Saudi Arabia has been alarmed by the rise of the Houthi movement, which is ostensibly Shia in outlook, and suspects it of being supported by Iran.

In an article in al-Jumhouria newspaper, Saqqaf said: "The government is facing difficulties that no other government has faced before... because the support that we used to always rely on in crisis, Saudi Arabia, has abandoned us.

"Without the support of our big sister, the Yemeni government will not even be able to pay next month's salaries. The economy is faltering in the first place and will not stand up to urgently required expenditures.

"Saudi Arabia is a big brother scolding his younger brother. It is also a warning to Yemeni politicians and all of the parties that have signed the 2014 Peace and National Partnership Agreement to take the agreement seriously and quickly implement it."

Meanwhile, there are signs that relations between Sanaa and Tehran are warming, with the government accrediting a new ambassador from Iran, Sayyid Hussain Nam.

Yemen has previously refused to endorse an ambassador because of accusations that Iran had interfered in Yemeni internal affairs and supported the Houthis.

The relationship was tested two days after the accreditation, when a car bomb went off near the new ambassador's house in Hadda, a south-western area of Sanaa, killing and injuring a number of people. The ambassador was not at home at the time of the explosion.

The GCC's annual summit, starting on Tuesday, could shed some light on the future of Yemen.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.