IRYANI: Could He Be Just the Man? [Archives:1998/23/Viewpoint]

June 8 1998

A few weeks back, the Yemen Times surveyed some 1,000 students at Sanaa University. Although, the majority expressed sadness at the departure of Dr. Faraj Bin Ghanim as head of government, they correctly and sensibly indicated that the new government should be given a chance. After all, all of us deserve a chance.

I am gratified that our students showed a positive attitude towards the new government. I would like to use this occasion to ask opposition politicians and critics of Dr. Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani and his government not to write them off. I have a deep conviction that Al-Iryani will surprise all of his critics and will rise up to the challenges of the moment by helping put our bureaucracy on the right track.
The reasons for my convictions are many. I would like here to enumerate some.

1. Right Start:
The Government of Dr. Al-Iryani is off with the right start. If you look at the issues it started to handle, you can see it means real business. We are talking here about such issues as audit and control of government behavior, looking closely at the activities (and allocations) of the tribal affairs department, and addressing the problems of NGOs.
In other words, the priorities, so far, are right.

2. Well Placed:
Dr. Al-Iryani is a politician who enjoys the trust and support of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He is thus better placed to bite the bullet and push ahead with hard decisions, which are badly needed. He will not need to worry about insubordination by ministers and other officials because they cannot undercut him with the president. Thus, he may surprise all of us by starting a clean-up job, which is a prerequisite for the success of the reform program.

3. Ability to Maneuver:
Dr Iryani has a knack for assessing situations correctly. You can see it from his interaction with others over the last thirty years. He has proven himself to be a shrewd politician. He knows when to pounce, and when to recoil. He reads a lot, listens well, and ponders long before deciding. In other words, he often has his calculations right. That is why, if he decides to go for it, his efforts at rehabilitating Yemeni bureaucracy will succeed.

4. Destiny Is Waiting:
At the age of 65, Dr. Iryani knows this is a crowning moment in his long career. The man has had his many ups and downs. But no one will deny he has given a lot to this country. His new job as prime minister (the second time in his career) is definitely his final peak. I feel, he knows destiny is waiting. He can use this opportunity as a majestic exit from public life, leaving behind quite a memorable legacy.

I hope Dr. Al-Iryani will be able to rise up to the challenges of the moment. If he decides to go for it, he deserves the support of all of us.
For now, the ball is still with him, and he is still in home base. It is up to him. We will keep our eyes on the ball and follow closely what he does with it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz AL-SAQQAF
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher