This is an OPINION page. Every week, a different intellectual writes a FOCUS on a pertinent issue! Economic Development & Third World Adventurers [Archives:1997/50/Focus]

December 15 1997

By Ahmed Saleh Al-Faqeeh
As much as the adventurous foreign policies of Saddam Hussein made the Iranians and later the Americans go after his skin or at least his chair, regardless of how much it costs them, even if they had to push their way to him over their own dead bodies and those of the Iraqis. The Saudis are also out apparently for knocking down President Ali Abdullah Salah even over dead Yemenis. Many of the Third World leaders committed the great sin of serious miscalculations, and resorted to adventures in their foreign policies. But, only very few had the integrity to admit their shortcomings, and leave the political scene, or at least, gave up their posts, in order to save their country, and their people – as much as possible from the enormous hardships that usually fall on the losing adventurer’s side. Instead, Saddam Hussein accepted compliance in order to save his own skin – the total distraction of his country’s scientific and technological capabilities, gave away national territories to the Iranians then to the Kuwaitis, and accepted the collective punishment imposed on his entire people through total siege. doing all that, he kept bragging about imaginary victories while brutalizing his people. Similarly president Saleh played the security card, by providing the Saudis with a one-sided security treaty, where Yemen alone refrains from providing shelter and support for Saudi opposition figures while the Saudis openly contradict that when it comes to Yemeni opposition paying high amounts in dollars to the Yemenis abroad, according to the President. Also he tried the territorial card when he approved the understanding memorandum, abolishing Yemen’s long outstanding claims to the Assir province. It only opened wider the Saudis’ appetite for Yemeni territories, and gave them a clear sign about the President’s frustrations and desperation. He tried with the Americans the democracy card, even tried putting pressures on them by playing on the Franco-American competition over economic gains and political influence, in order to help him in cooling the resolve of the Saudis hunt down policy. But all was in vain. The President’s adventure policy during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait had already cost the Yemeni people a great deal, the simplest part was a deterioration of 80% in each Yemeni family’s income and lost revenue in billions of US dollars for the nation. The President needed yet another adventure in 1994, to solve his differences with his Saudi-supported ruling partners. The policy divided Yemen into two rival populations thus creating unprecedented hatred and division between northerners and southerners who apparently started to learn and practice car bombings with all it’s dark and brutal implications. Although he blamed the Yemeni people’s emotions during the Gulf crisis to be the reason behind the Gulf peoples’ misunderstanding of Yemen’s official position. “Read his speech at Ibb, 30th Nov. 1997”. It is clear that states don’t make such plain misunderstandings. And Admitting ones mistake would be better for Yemen, although I doubt that it would help as long as he is in power. The Five golden Rules: going deeply into finding out the common denominators among the Asian tigers and other Asians, Latin American or even Arab countries which joined the successful tigers, shows clearly five important rules as being the pillars of successful economic development and those are as follows:-
1- Avoiding adventurer foreign policies. 2- Attracting foreign investments or wisely utilizing domestic natural resources. 3- A sound and modern education system. 4- A well planned, executed and maintained infrastructure and public services. 5- Having the right priorities in economic development plans, through a mixed system of central planning and free market economy practices. Among these golden pillars, the right foreign policy is the most important. It even influences and affects the other elements. For example Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Iraq among many countries, have foreign policies that influenced their economic development plans, and gave priority to heavy industries instead of the normal priorities of agriculture and light industries. Algeria ended up with mountains of out dated heavy industry factories, lacking the technical know how for running it or marketing and improving its output products in a fast changing business world. Libya and Iraq ended up with siege and wasted their peoples rare resources on adventures and military equipment and factories which ended up by destroyed or rusting away. Egypt reached the point of famine before listening to reason and abandoning adventurer foreign policies. We have all watched successful economic developments taking place during the last few decades at several nations with different cultures and religions such Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Thailand or Taiwan. It was achieved under military rule as in south Korea and Indonesia, theocratically as in Saudi Arabia and Thailand, democratically as in Japan, Malaysia, through civil dictatorship as in Singapore, under colonialist rule as in Hong Kong, or even under a communist regime as in China. The encouraging development today is that brutal and human rights violators like that ugly behavior at Zaid Al-Moshiki School for Girls in Taiz. Such behaviour is being outlawed internationally and is categorized as an ugly adventurous policy, inviting roars of anger from the civilized nations all over the world. Finally I conclude this by noting that economic development have been successfully achieved under different cultural, governmental and ethical conditions. But never, under an adventurous ruler or ruling party.