Thursday, July 14, 2011

Opposition to Yemen’s opposition

By Stacey Philbrick Yadav

After six months of ongoing peaceful protests, a fracturing of the armed forces, and ongoing violence in numerous parts of the country, Yemenis face increasingly dire conditions each day. And yet they keep showing up. While non-democratic (nay, anti-democratic) neighbors fitfully engage in mediation efforts while also giving refuge to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the U.S. continues to interpret the crisis through the lens of counterterrorism. Concerned about the risk of an emboldened al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the U.S. has offered tepid support for the aspirations of the country's majority, pinned its hopes on an atavistic autocrat, and opted to increase controversial drone attacks in some of the most unstable parts of the country.

This strategy is mistaken. It presupposes a narrow understanding of U.S. interests centered on counterterrorism, which I and others have argued against elsewhere. But it also assumes that working against the revolutionary aspirations of millions of Yemenis is, in fact, the best way to counter the threat of AQAP. Supporting the development of a democratically-constituted Yemen and offering support to its leaders as they build legitimate state institutions makes more sense. This Friday, the Organizing Committee of the Revolution, which is advocating for Saleh's immediate transfer of powers and the formation of a transitional council, has issued a call for a march in pursuit of a "Civil State." Yemenis from across ideological, occupational, generational, and class lines will gather around the country to demand a state accountable to its rights-bearing citizens. It will be the twenty-fifth Friday on which they have done so, camped out in the squares for the weeks in between.

Opportunistic, "spontaneous," and organized oppositions

It has been widely observed that Yemen's opposition movement is in fact a very wide tent, featuring multiple groups with shared (and some not-so-shared) visions of Yemen's ideal political future. The six-month standoff between the opposition and the regime has by now also produced considerable de facto devolution of authority in this highly regionally-divided and socially stratified country. But the emphasis on the different factions of the opposition has been too frequently inverted in media accounts, placing undue (and historically short-sighted) stress on those groups engaged in armed conflict with elements of the Yemeni armed forces loyal to President Saleh and his family.

Attention has focused mainly on the "opportunistic opposition" composed of various tribal leaders (especially the Ahmar brothers), military figures (notably Ali Muhsin and his First Armored Division) and insurgents (including the Huthis in the North and an array of Southern secessionists, usually unnamed). What these groups have in common is that they are willing to use force, and that they are "latecomers" to the movement for political change. All that we know of their substantive politics is that they would like a piece of the leadership pie in a post-revolutionary Yemen. Some, undoubtedly, have larger appetites than others. All of this is certainly important, and it means that they are relevant to a political solution, but it does not mean that they are central to it. For this, we ought to look more closely at the other two sources of political opposition.

In contrast to these latecomers, who mainly joined opposition protesters after the March 18 massacre, the leaders of the "Change Revolution" took cues from their Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts and mobilized an absolutely unprecedented, nonviolent opposition movement that has stretched across the country. Beginning in earnest in February, protesters issued a critique of both the regime and of the ineffective opposition parties that abetted Saleh. Gradually, the hundreds of semi-organized groups camped out in "Change Squares" across Yemen's major cities have come to articulate a more specific set of demands. Still, the complete removal Saleh, his immediate family, and the remnants of his political regime remain at the top of the list.

Yet it is misleading to call this a "youth" revolution, or to assume that its February origins were sui generis. The ages and social positions of its leaders vary tremendously, and many leaders of this "spontaneous" opposition have their roots in the partisan politics of the ideological opposition. They are called "youth" in part because of their (relative) age, but also because the common thread in their organizing is one of hope for the future, making youth a logical rhetorical motif. It is a metaphorical youth, perhaps, but its aspirations are unquestionably forward-looking.

The massive and utterly unprecedented protests organized by these groups are astounding, in their scope, duration, and peacefulness. But the biggest misperception about the Yemeni revolution is that it began with the protests of more or less spontaneously organized youth.

For over a decade, the organized political opposition has sought to substantially reform the political regime in Yemen and to replace Saleh through legal and non-violent mechanisms. This opposition, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), is itself a cross-ideological umbrella of religious parties, socialists, and other leftist nationalists. Indeed, it is so ideologically diverse that issues of procedural and institutional reform have, for a long time, been all that the groups can agree to pursue in common. The Youth revolutionaries' critique of the JMP has centered on its gradual and incremental approach, and its perceived neglect of grassroots. Alienated over time from constituencies outside of Sana'a, the JMP had difficulty articulating a common position on the Huthi crisis, all but missed the emergence of the Southern movement, and was able to carve out only minimal concessions from an encroaching regime. In other words, until a mobilizing push came from Cairo and Tunis and they began to organize (reformist, but not revolutionary) protests of their own in January, the JMP appeared to be teetering on obsolescence.

So why should we care about JMP? For two reasons: first, because the JMP and the "youth" leaders are not entirely discrete categories and there has been a great deal of cooperation, mutual reinforcement, and ideological co-articulation across this porous border; second, because revolutions beget new institutions. If Yemen's revolution succeeds, it will be JMP leaders who will be best able to navigate (and, they hope, craft) whatever new institutions take shape in Yemen. The protesters themselves seem to appreciate this. As one activist complained recently, "Our problem now is not with [Saleh], but with the JMP." Some of the youth leaders complain that the JMP is "hijacking" the revolution by taking control of Sana'a's Change Square in cooperation with Ali Muhsin's forces, and marches of "Independent Youth" are being organized against the member parties. At the same time, members of the Yemeni Socialist Party and other leftists have now also begun to raise the specter of an Islamist takeover within the JMP itself, as well as in the squares. But neither accusation seems entirely fair to the historic role of the JMP, or of Islamists within the alliance.

What about the Islamists?

As in Egypt and elsewhere, at least some of the U.S. ambivalence toward the revolution in Yemen relates to the possibility (or probability) of substantial Islamist participation in a post-revolutionary democratic regime. But rather than ask "what if" Islamists were allowed to legally participate, we ought to ask how Islamists have functioned to date.

Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen has enjoyed a much higher degree of political competitiveness over the past two decades. Islamists have been organized and integrated into the existing regime. During the 1990s, they even participated briefly in a power-sharing Presidential Council and held several cabinet portfolios. Over the past decade, however, as the Saleh regime blurred the boundary between the ruling party and state institutions to deepen its advantages, the electoral system has become less competitive and press more openly suppressed. Meanwhile, the Islamist Islah party, Yemen's second largest party since the 1993 elections, moved into the opposition. Since its nascent stages in 2002, the Joint Meeting Parties has served as an increasingly institutionalized vehicle for coordination between Islah, their former rivals, the Yemeni Socialist party, and a handful of smaller parties.

So what does the experience building and sustaining the JMP tell us about Islah and the likely future of Islamism in a post-revolutionary Yemen? First, cross-ideological cooperation has tended to cohere around "non-controversial" issues of procedural democratic reform. The issues that have cemented the alliance have been questions of transparency, anti-corruption, devolution, electoral reform, etc., and there is a generation of Islamists conversant in the idioms of and committed to building a democratic regime. The most divisive issues have been related to issues of gender equality and, to some extent, sectarian and regional concerns. But even on these thornier questions, the alliance has not broken, even when it has been bent by disagreement.

By far the most important lesson from the decade of JMP coordination, however, has come from developments within member parties. While deep fissures exist within both the Islamist Islah party and the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), the process of building and sustaining the alliance bolstered the internal position of moderates within both parties and isolated ideological extremists. As the Southern Movement gained ground, secessionists did not advance to leadership in the YSP. And in the 2007 internal Islah elections, a slate of young activists with deep commitments to the JMP were voted to the party's internal governing council. It's worth noting that 13 women, including current protest leader Tawakkol Karman, were elected, despite the party's unwillingness to field a female candidate in national elections. The popularity of these younger JMP activists within Islah was an indictment of more radical leaders, like Shaykh al-Zindani, who was voted out of his leadership position and who had publicly opposed this faction, especially the women. Many activists, both inside and out of the party, credited the internal shakeup to the younger cadre's role in mobilizing cross-ideological support for political reform -- of building the antecedents of the revolution.

It should come as no surprise, then, that many of this younger cadre of activists have been central to the peaceful, democratic revolutionary movement, and have provided a critical link across the porous border between the JMP and the "youth." Islamists in a democratically-constituted Yemen will be socially conservative on some issues, but they will be democrats. U.S. policy, favoring a myopic focus on AQAP, has bypassed the story of these Islamists for too long.

U.S. interests in Yemen

Any effort to "get Yemen right" is likely to get lost in the noise, but there are plenty of ways to get Yemen wrong. Unfortunately, viewing the country largely (if not exclusively) through the lens of counterterrorism has been the dominant approach adopted over the past decade and strengthened considerably under the Obama administration. Using John Brennen, counterterrorism advisor and former CIA station chief in Riyadh, as the primary public face of U.S. policy in Yemen communicates this approach -- as does his meeting with President Saleh in Saudi Arabia. Words of tepid support from U.S. diplomats regarding political transition show that the Washington still pins considerable hopes on the idea that Saleh (or his successor) might still serve as a "good czar" in Yemen, ruling the country with a firm hand in order to limit the spread of AQAP or its ability to stage an attack on the U.S. or its allies, notably Saudi Arabia.

But the status-quo strategy has substantively increased risk to U.S. strategic interests and stands to continue to do so. Saleh has been, at best, an inconsistent ally. He has abetted the rise of AQAP, cooperated fitfully with counterterrorism policies while building ties with some advocates of violence, and used aid earmarked for counterterrorism assistance to squash his domestic critics, including many in the JMP. His unwillingness to yield to popular pressure for reform (even before the current crisis) has increased the chaos and undermined the legitimacy of those Yemeni institutions that will be needed for future counterterrorism cooperation.

There is no good reason not to support the protesters' demands for a transitional council in Yemen. Supporting a new regime and, in time, encouraging that regime as it rebuilds the institutional legitimacy that has been destroyed or prevented by decades of mismanagement can help to produce the good will necessary for long-term cooperation in counterterrorism. The alternative -- support for an aging and injured autocrat and/or his designated successors, plus a strategy of drone strikes that violate Yemeni sovereignty with impunity -- will lead to a wellspring of anti-American sentiment. With good cause.

Stacey Philbrick Yadav is an assistant professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where she is coordinator of the Middle Eastern Studies Program. She is a member of the American Institute of Yemeni Studies and conducted fieldwork in Yemen during 2004-2006 and 2008-09.

A Bloody Endurance Contest

July 14, 2011: President Saleh is supposed to return from his Saudi Arabian hospital in three days. In his absence, his deputies (most of them kin) kept the government going. The tribes of Yemen want a new deal on how power and wealth (oil money, mostly) is distributed. But there isn't much to distribute, and a seemingly endless population boom is producing more hungry and desperate Yemenis. It's feels better to blame Saleh and the United States for all the problems, than to recognize the cause is closer to home. Actually it is in every Yemeni home. Especially those families that use scarce water to grow the narcotic Khat plant (mainly for export to Saudi Arabia), rather than food. But family and tribe are more important than nationalism in Yemen, so the country remains divided, even on the subject of who and what is responsible for the economic and political mess.

The U.S. is now openly calling for Saleh to step down and allow for new elections to select a new government. It's doesn't work that way in Yemen. First of all, getting an honest election is very difficult. Then, no matter how clean the vote is, that is considered a starting point for the real negotiations between the tribes to determine who shall get what.

The fighting has caused oil shipments to be halted (one tribe blew up part of the pipeline and refuses to allow repair crews to fix it). Other interruptions to commerce have caused a spike in inflation, with prices expected to be about 30 percent for the year. Food shortages not only cause prices to increase, but for more and more people to go hungry.

Demonstrations continue to take place, especially each Friday, in the major cities. The military rarely attacks theses events. Saleh's security forces are still present, and sometimes disperse the crowds. But, mainly, the pro-Saleh forces simply maintain themselves throughout the country, fighting tribal or al Qaeda militias that attack.

In a somewhat separate war, two tribes have been fighting for control of the northern province of al Jawf. In the past week, this has caused over a hundred casualties (including at least 27 dead). In the past, Saleh would have brokered a peace deal. Without someone like Saleh, the tribes just fight it out until a new arrangement is agreed on.

The number of Yemenis trying to cross illegally into Saudi Arabia doubled in June. Saudi border guards caught about 20,000, of which about 500 were thought to be smugglers. All but the smugglers are usually just sent back. That's because most of the border crossers are either looking for work in Saudi Arabia, or trying to get to someplace else (like Europe). The smugglers are prosecuted. The Saudis also scrutinize all the line crossers for known or suspected Islamic terrorists. A few of those are found each year. Last year, nearly 200,000 people were caught trying to sneak in from Yemen. Many Yemenis are fleeing the tribal violence. For example, in the southern province of Abyan, where most of the al Qaeda men have been hiding out, fighting in the last month has caused over 50,000 civilians to flee their homes, and some keeping going.

The five months of unrest in Yemen has encouraged al Qaeda to come out of hiding and try to expand their area of control. So far this effort has mainly provided target practice for troops and scary headlines in the West. At the start of the year, al Qaeda only had access to some remote tribal areas. But now they are trying to establish themselves in parts of several southern cities. That effort has cost al Qaeda hundred of casualties and not much success. It has also provided the air force with a regular supply of targets (especially when al Qaeda tries to establish a road checkpoint). The pro-al Qaeda militias have managed to blockade an army brigade camp, and establish footholds in some southern cities. But all this has simply made the al Qaeda followers much more vulnerable to attack.

July 7, 2011: President Saleh appeared on television (from a Saudi Arabian hospital) for the first time since he was injured on June 3rd, by a rocket fired at his home. Saleh showed signs of the burns he suffered, but spoke strongly and called for unity. That is not what the many factions in Yemen want. They want Saleh gone and a new formula for distributing Yemen's dwindling resources. But Saleh seems determined to keep his coalition, and its privileges, in power.

Analysis: Saleh's vow to return fragments chaotic Yemen

By Erika Solomon and Mohammed Ghobari

DUBAI/SANAA | Thu Jul 14, 2011

DUBAI/SANAA (Reuters) - Bandages cover the extensive burns on President Ali Abdullah Saleh's body, but he insists he will return Yemen -- a move threatening to further fragment a country convulsed by chaos.

In a televised recording last week, the frail yet defiant 69-year-old made his first appearance since a bomb attack on his mosque in Sanaa in early June. From Saudi Arabia, where he is convalescing, he vowed to "confront a challenge with a challenge."

To supporters, the sight of Saleh was a cause for celebration after speculation over his health. They say he is down, but not out, despite six months of mass protests that have loosened his three-decade grip on power.

"The president will return soon and we will hold the biggest party in Yemen's history to receive him, he was in good health and that angered the opposition," said Abdullah Abdulrahman, a supporter in Sanaa who fired celebratory shots after seeing the footage.

Riyadh and Washington, both targets of foiled attacks by the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, hoped to lessen turmoil by pressing Saleh to accept a Gulf Arab power transfer plan. But despite signaling acceptance to three different versions of plan, he backed out of signing every time.

Most likely, analysts say, Saleh can only return as a weakened figurehead unable to unify a country awash in weapons and so splintered that some opposition groups have begun to turn their guns on each other.

"I don't think there is any side strong enough to win the conflict, only strong enough to ensure the stalemate continues" said Ghanem Nuseibeh, a London-based analyst at Political Capital.

The capital itself is divided: the troops of Ali Mohsen, a top general who defected from Saleh to the protesters in March, controls the north. Saleh's relatives, who lead the powerful Republican Guard forces, have the south.

Other provinces, where tens of thousands of protesters still camp out daily, are embroiled in constant clashes between pro-opposition tribesmen and the Republican Guard. Saleh's sons and nephews are eager to maintain the status quo, hoping the president can return.

"I think they are trying to drag out the process as long as possible in the hopes that President Saleh can return and go from there," said Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton. "Essentially what you have is the president's family holding the country hostage."


General Mohsen has not shown the military strength to overpower Saleh's loyalists and the wealthy al-Ahmar family, seen as close to Yemen's bank roller Saudi Arabia, lost their chance at a smooth transition into power after their tribal backers clashed with Saleh's forces, a fight that nearly tipped the country into civil war.

"It is over for all three families, over. They attacked each other, and so in a sense they killed each other politically," said Yemeni analyst Ali Seif Hassan in Sanaa.

Even the major donors Washington and Riyadh seem hesitant over what to do about Yemen.

Autocratic Saudi Arabia faces more turmoil as it looks for a strong man but is loathe to encourage a democracy on its borders. Nuseibeh, of Political Capital, said the United States might welcome a federalized, democratic Yemen if it could ensure powerful forces help keep a lid on al Qaeda.

But neither power seems willing to tip the scale by backing a specific group or plan, instead hoping they can revive the thrice-foiled Gulf initiative and create a power share.

The growing challenge of unifying Yemen, the Arab world's poorest state, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia and sits on a strategic oil shipping lane, may give time for al Qaeda's aggressive Yemen-based branch and insurgents in the north and south seeking to chip away at power.

"The longer the struggle, the more cracks you will see ... If the stalemate continues it will strengthen certain elements of the military and the danger is it could consolidate the power of AQAP," Nuseibeh said.

The only choice that may be acceptable to all sides seems to be vice president Abdrabu Sayed Hadi Mansour, the current acting president.

But he is seen as weak and likely to bow to Saleh's influence -- a sign the veteran leader may yet have the last word.

Speculation is rife among Saleh supporters that the president may be staging a comeback. They hope he will return to Yemen this Sunday, July 17 -- the 33rd anniversary of his ascent to power.

"It is clear Saleh is not going to be able to rule as he'd done before 2011," said Princeton scholar Johnsen. "But as we've seen, there is no guarantee Saleh is going to go quietly."

US airstrike kills 6 Islamic militants in Yemen

The Associated Press
SANAA, Yemen — A U.S. airstrike on a Yemeni police station overrun by Islamic militants killed at least six fighters Thursday, a Yemeni security official said.
The strike targeted a region where radical groups believed to have al-Qaida links have exploited the country's political upheaval to take over entire towns.

A five-month-old popular uprising seeking to oust longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh has led to a security breakdown across much of Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country and home to an active al-Qaida branch. In recent months, radical Islamist groups have overrun two towns and other areas in the country's southern Abyan province, the site of Thursday's strike.

The U.S. fears al-Qaida will exploit chaos in Yemen to step up operations there and has been aiding the Yemeni government's anti-terrorism efforts.

Yemeni security officials said Thursday's strike hit a police station in the town of Mudiya that militants had taken over, killing six who were sleeping inside. Security officials also said there were reports of people being wounded, but did not have details.

Resident Mohammed al-Mashraqi said weapons stored inside caused the station to catch fire after the strike. Dozens of militants rushed to the scene to evacuate the wounded and dig search the rubble for the dead, he said.

Security officials said the wounded were taken to a hospital in the militant stronghold town of Jaar, 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest. Yemen army units have been trying to dislodge militants from there and the nearby town of Zinjibar, causing regular casualties on both sides.

The officials said the strike was carried out by an American plane because Yemeni planes aren't equipped for nighttime strikes.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa were not immediately available for comment.

New visa plan for Yemeni passengers at UK airports

July 14, 2011

All Yemeni citizens travelling through the UK on long-haul flights will need a visa, even if they are in transit, it has been announced.

Home Secretary Theresa May said Yemen was of "real and pressing concern to the international community".

From Thursday, Yemeni citizens need a visa before travelling to the UK, even if they are in transit and planning to arrive and leave from the same airport.

On Monday, the UK terror threat level reduced from "severe" to "substantial".

Mrs May said that since the introduction of the Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) regime, a number of countries had been added to a list of those requiring clearance.

'Pressing concern'

"This has been done in response to emerging counter-terrorism threats to the UK," she said.

"Recent events have highlighted Yemen as being of real and pressing concern to the international community.

"We feel that imposing a DATV regime on those Yemeni citizens who are travelling through the UK is a sensible and proportionate response to the threat."

The Detroit bomber, who tried to blow up an aeroplane on Christmas Day 2009, was trained in Yemen, Mrs May said.

And bombs disguised as toner cartridges which were found on board planes at East Midlands airport and in Dubai last October were also sent from Yemen, she added.

Mrs May this week reduced the terror threat level for the UK.

The new alert level meant the risk of a terrorist attack was considered to be a "strong possibility" and "might well occur without further warning"," she said.

"The change in the threat level does not mean that the overall threat has gone away," added Mrs May.

"There is still a real and serious threat to the UK and I would ask the public to remain ever vigilant."

Saudi seeking arms amid growing fears: analysts

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia's hunger for weapons, initially aimed at staving off the threat of Iran, has grown with the upcoming US withdrawal from Iraq and instability in Yemen and Bahrain, analysts say.

"Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries in general realise that they must rely on themselves to defend themselves during this critical period marked by the beginning of a US withdrawal from Iraq," said Anwar Eshki, director of the Middle East Institute for Strategic Studies.

About 46,000 US troops remain in Iraq and are due to leave by December 31 under an agreement with Baghdad, although US officials have said they may keep some there after the deadline if requested by Iraqi authorities.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has traditionally bought US and British arms, but it showed no hesitation in contacting a new supplier, Berlin, with which it is negotiating the purchase of 200 Leopard tanks, according to reports in Germany.

The order is worth some two billions euros ($2.8 billion), German magazine Der Spiegel said on its website.

"The kingdom is looking for weapons in Germany and even in Russia, knowing that with the vacuum left by the Americans in Iraq, Iran might begin to extend its influence to the Levant reaching out to the Mediterranean sea," said Eshki.

"Gulf countries need to feel capable of facing any threat from Iran or Iraq, as Kuwait and Bahrain are Saudi Arabia's last lines of defence," said the Jeddah-based researcher.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, whose country sent about 1,000 troops to Bahrain, freeing up local security forces to crush a month-long uprising, recently reiterated Riyadh's rejection of "foreign adventures" in Bahrain, in a reference to Iran.

"Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have strategy to maintain their security," Faisal said on July 5.

"If Iran wants to play a key role as a regional power, it must take into account the interests of neighbouring countries and not just its own," the minister said.

Relations between the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states and non-Arab, predominantly Shiite Iran were strained following the March crackdown on Shiite-led protests in Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia, a key player in Middle East politics, is also facing threats from neighbouring Yemen.

Yemen has since January been gripped by protests calling for the ouster of its long-time president, and also must contend with the threat of Al-Qaeda militants.

"Saudi Arabia is facing new threats in Yemen, (and) Iran's nuclear programme," said Theodore Karasik, the director for research and development at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

"This programme raises fears due to its unclear nature. It represents a threat to Saudis especially within the perspective of American withdrawal from Iraq and the events in Syria and Lebanon," he said.

Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to develop an nuclear bomb under the guise of an energy programme. Tehran vehemently denies the charges.

The United Nations has already slapped a wide range of sanctions on the Islamic republic over its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment programme.

"Iran's war games also do not reassure the Saudis, who are paying attention to Iran's behaviour in the shadow of its ballistic missiles weapons," said Karasik.

Saudi Arabia's "foreign policy is more aggressive; it is not like before anymore -- it is more assertive," he added.

The Saudis are diversifying their weapons suppliers, but remain major customers for US weapons.

"Saudi Arabia's pre-eminent security partner for external and internal defence remains the US, and this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future," says London-based Gulf region analyst Neil Partrick.

Saudi Arabia and the United States are holding negotiations on the final details of a massive arms deal.

The United States said in November that the $60 billion deal would take effect despite initial worries from US lawmakers over its impact on Israeli security.

The Pentagon unveiled plans on October 20 last year for the sale to Saudi Arabia of 84 F-15 fighter jets, 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 tactical Black Hawk helicopters and 36 light helicopters, as well as upgrades for 70 F-15s.

The delivery of the weapons to the kingdom, thought to be the largest single US arms sale ever, would be spread across 15 to 20 years.

"However, potentially widening the arc of suppliers, and even possibly advisers, fits a general trend seen for sometime in Saudi Arabia and in other GCC states who want to ensure a broad range of diplomatic and possibly security supporters on the international stage," said Partrick.