Despair and dissolution in Yemen

Hanan Al-Hakry , Thursday 25 Jul 2019

Crippled by the battle between the government and Houthi militias, public and government sector corruption and nepotism has redoubled the woes of Yemenis

Despair and dissolution in Yemen

Yemen is in tatters and its people are torn between two capitals: Sanaa controlled by the Houthis; and Aden, the temporary capital of the  legitimate government. Both capitals issue contradicting decisions, cornering the Yemenis between a rock and a hard place.

From the horrors of war, deteriorating healthcare and worsening living conditions, to children and entire families dying from famine, the last thing the Yemenis need is the endless battle between the legitimate government and Houthis.

According to informed sources, Houthi militias decided to confiscate passports issued by the legitimate government.

These included passports issued for Yemenis to travel to Saudi Arabia for the Islamic pilgrimage, due in less than a month. The legitimate government responded in kind and confiscated passports issued by the Houthis.

Meanwhile, Taiz resumed issuing passports Sunday. Work

at Taiz’s customs authority had earlier ceased after one of its employees was killed in a stampede at the authority as people crammed to obtain passports.

Taiz’s customs authority receives between 800 and 1,000 Yemenis per day, said Deputy Manager Nasr Mohamed.

Yemenis from across all governorates flock to Taiz in large numbers after the government announced it would no longer recognise as valid the passports issued by the Houthis in Sanaa and other regions under the militia’s control.

“A number of ministers and ambassadors are the real reason why the passports have become invalid, following the scandals that were exposed concerning giving out Yemeni passports, diplomatic or otherwise, after bribing officials,” said a political analyst.

Social media networks and a number of Yemeni websites circulated news of “corruption in the legitimate government”.

This was another straw on the back of the Yemenis suffering in a collapsing country the manipulation of the local currency  — the US dollar appreciated this week to reach 590 riyals — amid humanitarian aid that arrives in Yemen but the majority of which disappears amid deteriorating living conditions.

Investments are being poured into commercial complexes planned according to international standards. These complexes are of no use to the country or its people, offering imported goods to a nation dying of famine.

While public sector employees cannot cash their wages to feed their families, legitimate government officials go about appointing others preferentially.

Government officials are manipulating jobs, resulting in the hegemony of relatives of senior officials over government institutions.

The Yemeni Al-Mashahid website published a list of names of Yemeni officials together with their wives and sons in the diplomatic and military fields, saying the website had acquired documents that implicate the legitimate government.

The website released a video documenting the officials and their families’ salaries that ranged from $3,000 to $8,000 in a country where the economy is miserably failing.

“Familial ties and personal interests, not experience, knowledge and qualification, are the criteria on the basis of which people in Yemen are hired. Being employed is a right granted by the constitution to achieve justice and equality in public sector jobs,” reported Al-Mashahid, describing the “high office inheritance” phenomenon.

The website added that Nasser Hadi, son of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, was appointed head of the Presidential Guard, while Hadi’s other son, Jalal, a deputy at the Ministry of Expatriates’ Affairs, was in control of the appointment of diplomats and ministry deputies, and that his choices were governed by familial ties rather than experience and knowledge.

The website added that diplomatic and army circles have become family affairs, and reported on campaigns directed at Yemen’s administrative corruption, such as that kick-started by journalist Nabil Al-Assidi. A number of rights activists and journalists initiated a popular campaign under the name “Towards media and legal coalition against unlawful government appointments and tampering with public employment”.

News of an impending cabinet reshuffle was published last week in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat from which Yemen Al-Ghad website reported that Hadi was consulting with government and party leaders as well as his advisory council and premier to carry out a cabinet reshuffle to remove a number of ministers who proved ineffective in their positions.

Southern journalist Kamal Salaheddin aroused the curiosity of Yemenis when he wrote in Al-Ain Online website that UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, in his latest statement before the Security Council, “spoke of a wise man in the region who told him the war would come to an end by the end of the year. Who is this wise man? How close is he to the warring parties? Can this man effect change?... The answer to these questions can be easily deduced once we know who this wise man is. I believe he is Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taymour of Oman.”

 *A version of this article appears in print in the 25 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Despair and dissolution in Yemen

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