Recognizing a dearth of policy-oriented dialogue on Yemen in Washington, the Hariri Center for the Middle East and the Project on Middle East Democracy are launching a Yemen policy initiative to provide a platform for dialogue and opportunities for advocacy to advance a more coherent and comprehensive US policy toward Yemen.
Relative to other uprisings in the Arab world, discussion about Yemen from a policy perspective has been limited, which is in part a result of a lack of information, knowledge and accessibility. The Yemen policy initiative seeks to respond to that vacuum by generating informed discussion with policymakers, raising the degree of knowledge and understanding in the Administration and on Capitol Hill through targeted briefings, and utilizing print, electronic, and broadcast media to effectively carry policy messages.

The Yemen Policy Group would bring together key thinkers to form a “brain-trust” of experts on Yemen, provide political and economic analysis on issues of concern to policymakers, and to provide a platform for policy debate and discussion. The primary objective would be to advance concrete policy recommendations to the US and EU about how they can support Yemen through this transitional political process, taking into consideration the need to secure national security interests.

The Yemen Policy Group would challenge the tendency to view Yemen through the narrow lens of counterterrorism and would aim to:

  • Create space for specifically policy-oriented discussions and galvanize consensus among experts, practitioners, and advocacy groups.
  • Educate key policymakers and opinion-shapers on the complexity of Yemen’s situation
  • Advocate for a robust US role advancing political and economic reform—and not just sustaining familiar military relationships—that ultimately serves US long-term interests.

The discussion began with a briefing on the current environment by Laura Kasinof, a freelance journalist with the New York Times reporting from Yemen, and Mohammad Al Maitemi, the Yemen representative of Silatech and former director of the Federation of the Yemeni Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with other participants providing additional details from their experience on the ground. The group discussed the widening gap between the north and south of the country, challenges facing the coalition government and newly elected president Hadi Mansour, the status of the political transition and military restructuring, the role of Saudi Arabia, and US policy in Yemen.