The World Bank: Targeted for Yemeni Anger [Archives:1998/26/Front Page]

June 29 1998

The name World Bank (Al-Bank Al-Dowly) was mentioned 32 times in the 3-hour special session of parliament on Tuesday, June 23, 1998. The deputies had summoned the government to explain its actions, in the aftermath of the demonstrations following the price hikes.
Dr. Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani, Prime Minister, and key ministers in his cabinet were put through a washing machine. The puzzling thing, however, was that all sides seemed to agree that much of the blame rests with the World Bank.
These days, Yemen’s important donor has become the target of the people’s anger.
But the World Bank has it coming, partly because of its cultural insensitivity, and partly because of the mistakes of the people representing it.
During the First General Conference of NGOs, for example, the World Bank’s pushy attitude got mentioned a few times. It was noted that a certain Ms. Karen Hudes arm-twisted the Ministry of Social Affairs to secure a consultancy contract for a friend of hers, a Washington-based Dr. Leon Irish. Thus, most of the WB allocation for developing the NGO law ended up with Mr. Irish. Mr. Irish is knowledgeable about NGO laws, no doubt, but he is very ignorant of Yemeni realities. Thus his first law draft included things like “friends of dogs society” and “the role of church” in Yemen.
Ms. Hudes also spoke openly about having this or that minister in her camp (pocket). She objected to involvement of members of parliament in the early stages of developing the draft law, a mistake that will lead to difficulties when the bill goes to parliament.
It is such mistakes that present the WB in a negative way. This is especially true in circles of the press, intellectuals and law makers – people who have a say in the affairs of the nation.