UK Minister: Fighting Al-Qaeda is not only through military
Being the first foreign minister to come to Yemen since the elections, his visit was meant as a demonstration of the UK’s continuous support for Yemen’s transitional process that officially started with the presidential elections last month.
During his visit he met with Yemeni officials in the coalition government including President Hadi, as well as with youth groups and other political stakeholders that were not part of the political transitional process.
“I was happy to see that the government is very alert to all economic, political and security issues,” said the minister. “The UK stands ready to continue its support to Yemen bilaterally and through the Friends of Yemen process which will be meeting next month.”
On the challenges the country is facing Burt admitted that Yemen has a lot of challenges to face in the upcoming phase. One of the main concerns is security, which the UK has supported the Yemeni government in strengthening, although he would not mention the details of such support.
“Fighting Al-Qaeda is not only through military confrontation, but there is a longer process through the national dialogue and the involvement of everyone in the political transition,” said Burt.
Although he said Yemen’s security is a matter for the Yemeni authorities, the violence that occurred last week in southern areas of the country is a clear indicator that terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda are going to respond strongly when pressure is put on them.
“But this [military and civilian causalities resulting from fighting Al-Qaeda] does not mean the Yemeni government will be deterred from taking on this challenge,” he insisted, adding that president Hadi has been clear about his strong intentions of fighting Al-Qaeda, an intention the international community is in full support of.
However, the inclusion of all stakeholders through the national dialogue remains a question of time. As Burt explained, it is too early in the process to talk about specific mechanisms or the structure of the dialogue.
“I engaged with those protesting youth and others who are outside the political process for now, to get a sense of where they want the country to go through the national dialogue,” he said.
From his observations he realized that some of those groups feared that they will not be included in the dialogue, however, from his meetings with officials and political decision makers he is convinced that there is agreement for inclusion. Details of how and when are still not known, and is not something “the international community will dictate” according to the British minister.