Page last updated at 22:08 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Yemen calls on oil-rich Gulf neighbours for help

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Arab affairs analyst

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Mujawar
Mr Mujawar said he expected action at a donors' meeting next month

Yemen says it wants its oil-rich neighbours to do more to lift it out of poverty.

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Mujawar told the BBC that poverty was a breeding ground for extremism.

He was speaking a day after an international meeting on how best to boost support for the Yemen government.

It faces a growing threat from al-Qaeda, an armed insurgency in the north and a burgeoning separatist movement in the south.

Yemen is up against some of the most difficult challenges that could possibly face any country in the world.

This has led many to conclude that unless the world rushes to help, Yemen could become another failed state in a strategic corner of the world.

We have widespread unemployment, and this is the environment in which extremism flourishes
Ali Mohamed Mujawar
Yemeni Prime Minister

It is close to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, and not far off from the shores of Somalia, a failed state where piracy has become a real threat to international trade over the past year.

Mr Mujawar said he was pleased that the international community had renewed its commitment to help Yemen, although there were, as yet, no concrete pledges.

He said he looked forward to the meeting of donor countries in neighbouring Saudi Arabia next month, where he expected the oil-rich members of the Gulf Co-operation Council to do their bit to help Yemen.

"We will ask them to focus on the economy, and projects to reduce poverty.

"We will ask them to absorb Yemeni labour into the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council because we have widespread unemployment, and this is the environment in which extremism flourishes."

Financial aid or help to train the Yemeni security forces to deal with the threat from al-Qaeda and other internal turmoil may go some way towards staving off the risk of Yemen becoming a failed state.

That is arguably the easy bit.

More difficult, though, is the demand from international donors that Yemen should introduce profound political reforms to ensure transparency and good governance.

Without such reforms the root cause of instability in Yemen will simply not go away.

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