London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi said on Wednesday that “security is one of the main challenges facing Yemen,” following the emergence of a video this week showing Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir Al-Wuhayshi openly addressing more than 100 fighters in an unidentified location in the country. His comments came as the Friends of Yemen group of international donors prepared to meet in London later this month.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Qirbi said that the recent killing of two Saudi Border Guards, who were fired on from Yemeni territory, was committed by smugglers and that Yemeni authorities were doing everything in their power to capture those responsible. He confirmed that high-level coordination between Sana’a and Riyadh to control the border region and prevent infiltration and smuggling was taking place, calling on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to help Sana’a rebuild its security forces.
The two Saudi Border Guards were killed near the Yemeni border on April 9 after being fired on by unknown assailants from inside Yemeni territory. A Yemeni patrol also came under fire on April 14, resulting in the death of one soldier.
The 15-minute video that has been causing controversy this week, dated March 2014 and posted on an Islamist website, showed an unmasked Wuhayshi addressing approximately 100 AQAP fighters and vowing attacks on the US.
Qirbi also said that Sana’a is relying on the Friends of Yemen meeting to be held in London on April 29 to provide Yemen with the necessary aid to rebuild and restructure its ailing security forces.
“The Friends of Yemen will discuss providing financial and logistical aid to rebuild the Yemeni army . . . We rely on Saudi Arabia, as our closest and largest neighbor, to play a role in this issue.”
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier this week announced that “the governments of the UK, Saudi Arabia and Yemen will co-chair the next Friends of Yemen meeting.” The priorities for the meeting include “assessing progress on the political, economic and security objectives set at the last Friends of Yemen meeting in New York in 2013,” in addition to restructuring the group.
Qirbi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the economy will be one of the most important issues discussed at the meeting, describing it as “vital” for Yemeni stability. “Terrorists exploit the deterioration in economic and living conditions in order to carry out armed attacks, which threatens social unity.”
“We are relying on the London conference to discuss the release of funds previously donated to Yemen and estimated at approximately 8 billion US dollars, to help Sana’a confront the political and security challenges,” he added.