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Wherever Bin Laden Goes, Aid Follows! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Forty years ago, it was said that the Imam of Yemen proposed entering a war with the United States as a solution to the financial problems from which his country was suffering. The Imam explained that because Yemen would certainly be defeated by America, America would then be obliged to rebuild Yemen. This was said after America undertook the Marshall Plan to rebuild what was destroyed in Europe and Japan during World War II. That joke has now become a reality manifested in the London Conference on Yemen for donor [countries] in which superpowers met to discuss [providing] aid in terms of finance and development. In the conference the Yemeni Prime Minister repeated the term [Marshall Plan] and said: “We need a Marshall Plan [costing] 40 billion dollars to rebuild Yemen.” They agreed in London to give Yemen aid and it was granted the largest [amount] in its history and this international gesture came about as a result of the emergence of Al Qaeda in Yemen.

Does the idea of getting involved in the fight against Al Qaeda, despite its dangers, bring with it the key to Ali Baba’s cave and the treasures within? Why did the idea come about to show generosity and support to states that threaten regional and international security just as the case is with Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Why didn’t anyone embark upon helping Yemen when it was stable and in desperate need of this kind of support? Jordan, which is an example of a country in need of this support, succeeded at containing Al Qaeda and fighting terrorism, and is committed to the rules of development and political reform, yet it receives less than a fifth of what was promised to Yemen recently. Does Bin Laden first need to set up a branch in Amman so that the Jordanians can call for a meeting of donor countries and provide for half of its population made up of refugees? The same goes for Tunisia and every country that is in dire need of aid but did not neglect its development or security [issues], which was the case in Yemen.

Perhaps political support of devastated countries is a necessity to contain the international threat. However at the same time, it is a worrying concept for two reasons: support only comes after complete destruction when it is too late, such as in Afghanistan and Somalia, and secondly because it is a reward for countries that did not cooperate in the past and it neglects poor countries that carried out their duties in fighting terrorism and adopted a better and more accountable political system.

With regards to Sanaa, it deserved support many decades before the birth of Al Qaeda and what Bin Laden’s group and Iran and other countries spread throughout the country and their exploitation of local Yemeni forces simply because the state is incapable of exerting full control over the country. The concerned parties in Yemen justify their hesitation by saying that they tried to support Yemen and its development in the past and they failed for two reasons: corruption and security lapses. One of them said: how can a plan be adopted when the mechanisms are subjected to theft and the workers to kidnapping? How can the country be built and how can there be development when a third of the male population chew Qat without any attempts by the government to fight the condition of group narcoticism? How can one trust the regime when the brother of the governor of Sadah is smuggling arms to the rebels surrounding his brother’s home?

Yemen is a big country that overlooks two seas and it is rich in petroleum resources and arable land. It does not need aid inasmuch as it needs support to stand on its own two feet. If it weren’t for Al Qaeda and the Houthis, no one in the world would care about Yemen’s issues. Today its problems are being addressed by rewarding it with generous amounts of international aid and threatening it with interference in running its affairs.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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