On February 21, Saudi Arabia announced it would be depositing $1 billion to the Central Bank of Yemen in Aden, the current capital of the internationally-recognized government of Yemen. However, some reports are claiming that the Saudi’s are merely loaning the money with the hopes of making a profit over funds meant to be humanitarian in nature.
The claims of it being a loan cannot be proven or disproven at the moment. It is likely only a rumor that it is a loan, as the source claiming it to be comes from a Lebanese newspaper that has sympathized with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region. As of now, the SPA (Saudi Press Agency) released a short statement claiming that “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed a deposit agreement with the Central Bank of Yemen with an amount of $1 billion, which was fully deposited in the Bank’s account.” The SPA also went on to claim that the money is meant to go towards an economic reform program for the country.
The Saudis have invested billions of dollars into the internationally recognized government of Yemen since the outbreak of the Yemeni Civil War. The internationally recognized government is currently headed by the Presidential Leadership Council. In April of 2022, the PLC was created as a way to deter conflict between the various factions fighting against the Iranian-backed Houthis. It should be noted that the PLC is backed by a Saudi-led coalition which features some members of the Arab League; some of the members of the coalition have only supplied fighter jets while others have supplied soldiers.
It is uncertain how much money the Saudis and the coalition have spent on their military operations during the civil war, however, it is possible to see how much money Saudi Arabia has invested into various projects in Yemen. According to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre, Yemen has received $4,166,459,036 for food security, health, hygiene, water, and other areas of concern for Yemeni citizens.
Along with the Saudis, the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund set out a plan to establish economic and financial stability within Yemen with the hope of doing so from the plan’s inception in November of 2022 until 2025. Alongside that plan, the Saudi’s backed it by extending $1 billion to Yemen. Even earlier in 2022, the Saudi’s pledged that they would support the country by investing $3 billion, but did not go into detail as to when they would send the money or what it would be used for.
The details of the various investments have not been released. It is safe to assume that many of the early investments were for humanitarian aid; however, few details exist as to what kind of “investment agreement” occurred earlier this week and whether or not it is a loan.
The Yemeni Civil War, which started in 2014, has been described as the worst humanitarian crisis to date with widespread hunger, disease, and famine. OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) claims that 21 million civilians, out of a population of 30.5 million, are in need of humanitarian aid. Regardless of investments over time from Saudi Arabia and its coalition, experts agree the conflict in Yemen will have to finally come to an end before the devastated country can truly begin to heal and rebuild.