Sovereignty for Security: The Paradox of Urgency and Intervention in Yemen

To Cite: Mahdi, Waleed. “Sovereignty for Security: The Paradox of Urgency and Intervention in Yemen,” in The Struggle to Reshape the Middle East in the 21st Century, editor Samer S. Shehata. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023, pp. 174-192..

Abstract: This chapter examines the paradox of urgency and intervention in Yemen since the start of the twenty-first century by exploring the compromising of Yemen’s sovereignty for the sake of security and stability. This paradox stems from the intersection of the US-led ‘war on terror’ campaign in Yemen after 2000 and competing narratives surrounding Yemen’s future since 2011. The United States’ ‘war on terror’ and the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative ostensibly intended to guide Yemen’s political transition and prevent it from becoming a ‘failed state,’ followed by Saudi and Emirati military intervention beginning in 2015, simultaneously denied Yemenis their sovereignty and produced even greater instability in the country. This chapter investigates how such powerful international and regional actors repeatedly employed discourses of security and state fragility to intervene in Yemen in pursuit of their own national security interests. These discourses have produced neither stability nor security and have had disastrous consequences for millions of Yemenis, further denying them the ability to create a future based on national sovereignty.

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