Why the West “conditional” support?! [Archives:2006/938/Opinion]

April 17 2006

Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi
[email protected]

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been very critical to what he has called “conditional” support of the Western countries. During his last visit to China, the man praised the Chinese who give support without exercising any sort of pressure or setting out conditions. He also said the Chinese did not like to interfere into the internal affairs of countries. When he arrived in Pakistan, he repeated the same complaint. Upon arrival to Sana'a airport and in his talk to the media, Saleh said that he would not accept “dictations and conditional support”. Previously, he told the Youth Conference that if Yemen had been a rich oil country, the international community would keep a closed eye to human rights and reform questions.

The man is really angry and furious. This is why he has been criticizing the so-called “conditional support and dictations” of the West. However, the president has not told us about the nature of the pressure his regime has been receiving from the West donor community. Is this pressure related to the attempts of these countries to break Yemen's sovereignty and interfere in internal affairs? Or does it have to do with the reform package program and the failure of the regime to achieve a visible progress? As Yemeni citizens, we have the right to know why the West is setting conditions for its support to us. If the donors are just blackmailing the regime, we need to know why and how. But if the donors are pressurizing the regime to speed up reform, this is not “dictation” but concerns over the future of the country.

I know the Eastern countries might not mind about democracy and human rights issues as this is not part of their heritage or agenda and some of them are not democratic at all. Therefore, such countries can never set conditions on Yemen to democratize in order to get its support or are curious to know where their support goes.

The Western democratic countries should not just pour their money to regimes that do not respect human rights and go. They should be careful that their money, which is coming from the tax payers, does not go to repressive governments that use such support for self enrichment or abuse human rights and freedoms. The donors do not support regimes but people and therefore, they should put conditions for how it is channeled and well-used.

The improvement of human rights, press freedom and democracy record and the ability of our regimes to hold on to it, will, certainly, attract more respect and support from the international community to us.

The World Bank cut its support to Yemen by 34% last year because of lack of transparency and failure to meet minimum standards of fiscal transparency and efficiency and a lack of improvement to the national investment environment. Again, the US decided to exclude Yemen from the Millennium Challenges Fund support due to the inability to meet the standards set for that.

It is, therefore, the backsliding drive of reform, the increasing momentum of corruption and lack of transparency that is our major headache, pushing the donors to set conditions for their support.

When the president was in Hong Kong last week, he said, while looking at very beautiful scenery of the city, that it reminded him of Mualla in Aden. He stressed Aden has the potential of becoming another Hong Kong after some years but without figuring out how. Everybody acknowledges the strategic position of Aden and the potential of its port. Aden Free Zone came to being some years ago. But, the most important question we have to ask is: what has been done since then to make Aden attract foreign investments? It is corruption that has shattered the dreams of having the Aden port restore its important role it played during the British colonization. The city was left for every Tom, Dick and Harry to plunder for important sites have been taken over by big influential guys.

I know Aden port is our future and can be Yemen's main source of income if the regime is serious enough and works to create a secure environment for both local and international investors. Unless the regime is able to attract more foreign investments in to the country, mainly to Aden, our future is at stake, considering the run out of oil. That is, it is significant investments that will make us in no need to the West “conditional” donation, as the regime alleges.

Al-Asalai : Keep it up

We have started to hear good news about the stiff measures taken by the minister of finance Saif al-Asali against the corrupt crooks in his ministry. The man so far deserves our support and we hope he will keep the momentum and that the big crooks at the power center do not frustrate the man.