EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2016

Gulf

49 - Yemen

Grade: C-
Unity 2/5
Resources 2/5
Strategy 2/5
Impact 1/5
Total 7/20
Scorecard 2012: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2013: B- (12/20)
Scorecard 2015: C- (7/20)

Europe failed to form a united position on Yemen, as civil war erupted and regional powers backed rival sides

In 2015, Yemen’s celebrated and internationally backed post-Arab Spring transition collapsed into civil war, creating yet another crisis in the region. While a number of European diplomats have shown some leadership, on the whole the EU and member states failed to act decisively to pressure both sides to bring the conflict towards a political solution. Efforts to return Yemen to a political track – the stated aim of the EU and all member states – collapsed, while the war has accelerated the collapse of the economy and exacerbated the longstanding security vacuum. 

This owed in part to a shortfall in resources – and in unity. With attention diverted to other regional issues, from the Iran deal to the rise of ISIS and the crisis in Syria, Yemen was often overshadowed. Member states at times gave conflicting messages on the conflict. Notably, the UK and France’s strong support for the Saudi-led coalition has been at odds with statements by officials from the EU and other member states – particularly Germany and the Netherlands – that have pushed for a stronger European diplomatic role in resolving the conflict. In that regard, both the UK and France largely mirrored the US in their reluctance to express disagreement with the actions of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, in part due to a desire to reassure longstanding allies in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran.

As one of the few key actors to be viewed positively by all sides, the EU has a great potential to serve as a broker in Yemen. But internal divisions and a lack of focus have diminished Europe’s leverage, stifling efforts to support UN mediation efforts and broker talks.