Monday 01 February 2016

Managing power and influence in the international system invariably produces risks and challenges that must be overcome to achieve national interests. Achieving those interests can require the use of military force, and that use of force often requires a subsequent need to stabilize and reconstruct theaters of war; such stabilization and reconstruction efforts, like in Yemen today, can often be just as complex and costly as conflict itself and require particularly mature strategic vision. The UAE is renowned for its international aid and has done an excellent job in Yemen to date, but an enhanced understanding of effective national stabilization and reconstruction will help us ensure our regional security in the years to come. 

Stabilization and reconstruction efforts typically focus on five main strategic objectives: (1) establishing a secure environment to allow local people to live normal lives; (2) restoring the rule of law and a trusted system of justice to enable reconciliation; (3) restoring governance and state services; (4) reconstructing a sustainable economy and infrastructure so people can make their own livelihoods; and (5) providing humanitarian assistance to foster social well-being. Managing such complex efforts requires just as much planning and coordination as military operations and often need even more involvement by various government and non-government entities if they are to make enduring improvements. 

Transitioning from conflict to peace requires reducing the drivers of conflict and strengthening key government capacities while restoring a host nation’s ability to manage its own political and economic development. That requires host nation ownership and capacity, which means that the affected country must drive its own development needs and priorities even if transitional authority is in the hands of outsiders, and political primacy, which means that an enduring political settlement among the parties in conflict must form the cornerstone of any sustainable stabilization effort. Every decision and every action must focus on the critical need to forge and maintain political agreement among the warring parties. Legitimacy is also crucial; the host nation population must accept the government and its actions; the government must be accountable; and regional neighbors and the broader international community must accept and support the restored government. 

The UAE has already made many significant contributions to the stabilization and restoration of governance in Yemen. It was ranked first globally as the largest donor to Yemen during 2015, contributing 31 percent of the total aid provided by countries around the world. Total UAE aid provided in response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen since last March has reached AED 1.62 billion. The UAE has also pledged an additional AED 73.5 million to ensure the broad basic needs of the Yemeni people, channeled through numerous UN and international organizations, including directing AED 44 million to support healthcare and other needs, and AED 29.3 million to enhance the food security and child and maternal nutrition. Most of that aid will be concentrated in governorates of Taiz, Aden and Lahej. The Emirates Red Crescent has conducted medical and water infrastructure programs in Aden and also in Shabwa Province. A number of Yemeni National Resistance leaders have already visited the UAE to thank the leaders and people of the UAE for their stance in support of security and development in Yemen. But much, much more remains to be done: supporting a political solution based on UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the GCC initiative, and the outputs of the Yemeni national dialogue, will require difficult negotiations and trust building; Yemen is one of the world’s most heavily armed societies (analysts believe there may be nearly 60 million weapons in Yemen for an assessed population of 21 million); and according to Integrated Regional Information Networks two thousand Yemenis die every year due to ethnic conflict or gun-related crime. 

Over the long-term, we need to build upon UNSCR 2216 to better integrate Yemen within the GCC economy, improve its use of human and natural resources, and capitalize on its strategic coastline. History has demonstrated that building Yemen’s state capacity and helping it manage its development will remain a tremendous challenge. But a safer Yemen in the heart of the Arab world, affording all Yemenis a role in the future of their country, in partnership with their neighbors, is well worth the effort. Too many Emiratis have given their lives in the campaign to restore stability in Yemen; we must be committed and creative, and very persistent as future challenges occur to ensure the national security of both Yemen and the UAE going forward.