Intervention in the Friends of Yemen Ministerial

William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary
Washington, DC
September 27, 2012

Thank you President Hadi, Foreign Secretary Hague, and Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud for bringing us together today as the Friends of Yemen. Thank you, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for lending your support to this important cause. On behalf of Secretary Clinton, I want to emphasize once again the United States’ strong commitment to working with you, President Hadi, the people of Yemen, and the international community, to facilitate this historic transition.

President Hadi, your determined leadership has enabled Yemen to remain faithful to the process and milestones described in the Gulf Cooperation Council-led political transition initiative. We urge you to immediately move forward with the National Dialogue, and through it, lay the groundwork for a constitutional review and revision in 2013, subsequent constitutional referendum, and then elections in February 2014.

The international community must move quickly to assist Yemenis as they both pursue their political transition, and seek to meet the country’s urgent humanitarian and development needs. I commend the international community’s efforts to support Yemen’s transition and urge the Friends of Yemen to continue supporting pressing humanitarian needs through fully accountable channels, such as the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen, which remains less than 50 percent funded. We also continue to support exploration of options for a trust fund to support the Government of Yemen’s capacity building efforts. The United States is on track to more than double assistance to Yemen this fiscal year, providing over $346 million. We seek to support the Yemeni people by delivering humanitarian aid and economic assistance, supporting good governance, and encouraging expanded political participation for all, especially women, youth, and Yemenis of all backgrounds.

Let me be clear: Our relationship with Yemen is about much more than security and counterterrorism. There can be no lasting stability and no freedom from extremism in Yemen without political reform and economic progress. Together, our aid will provide the space for the GCC initiative and its vision for political transition to succeed by stabilizing Yemen’s economic situation and avoiding an impending humanitarian crisis. But certain burdens cannot be passed. International support can help to alleviate immediate humanitarian and economic crises, but for Yemen’s transition to be successful, Yemenis must pursue the National Dialogue and develop viable government institutions. We will work with you on this effort. We will partner with the Yemeni Government, private sector, and civil society to promote long-term, sustainable development prospects, develop economic activity and reform, and strengthen both domestic and foreign direct investment opportunities in Yemen. We will support the creation of active programs to improve Yemeni job skills, to ensure that Yemen’s workforce is prepared to compete and succeed in today’s global economy and empower the people of Yemen to take their future into their own hands.

Finally, I would like to recognize the ongoing security challenges in Yemen. Demonstrators broke into our Embassy compound on September 13 and caused significant damage in an unjustifiable act of violence. The Yemeni Government condemned the violent attacks on our embassy, making clear that extremists do not speak for the Yemeni government or the Yemeni people. Only two days earlier there was a serious attack against the Yemeni Minister of Defense. Despite these setbacks, we must acknowledge Yemen’s dogged progress in the fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The enormous personal sacrifice and commitment made by the Yemeni armed forces and police has helped to turn the tide against those who see violence as a means to forestall any positive change in Yemen. The Yemeni Government and military must continue to restructure the security forces to protect all Yemenis, as well as the diplomats and critical infrastructure, throughout the country. The majority of Yemenis, those who want and deserve the peace and stability of a democratic and prosperous Yemen, will not give in to extremists.

We look forward to working closely with you, President Hadi, as well as the Yemeni people, and the international community to build a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Yemen.

Thank you.