Yemen needs self-rule, not another Saudi bailout

Yemen needs self-rule, not another Saudi bailout
Comment: The Saudi-led coalition gives Yemen leftovers and robs it of its sovereignty, independence and dignity, writes a Yemeni journalist.
5 min read
04 Oct, 2018
Saudi Arabia has announced a further US$200 million bailout to Yemen [AFP]
The news on the recent Saudi grant to the Central Bank of Yemen has gone viral locally and internationally.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia 
declared a bailout of US$200 million to Yemen to address the unbridled collapse of the Yemeni riyal amid an unending war and tragic humanitarian crisis.

While this might sound like great news for this war-wracked nation, it is in fact, nothing of the sort. This financial aid will yield no genuine positive impact on the economic situation in Yemen or improve the livelihoods of its starving millions.

For its part, Saudi Arabia is well aware that injecting funds will do nothing to help establish economic stability in their impoverished neighbour, but they have no qualms in continuing to fool the Yemeni government into thinking so. 

Instead of adopting practical measures and tangible steps to address the economic situation in Yemen, the Kingdom has resorted to the media to publicise the so-called 'grants', hoping to placate Yemenis through their reported financial aid.  

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced a $2 billion bailout to be injected to the Central Bank of Yemen to shore up the Yemeni currency. That was a tremendous sum of money, but with no sign of its benefits, the country's dire economic situation continues, unabated.

The Yemeni currency has neither maintained, nor strengthened its value. In fact, Yemenis have seen and felt quite the opposite. Saudi Arabia's aid injections are wholly fake solutions, nothing more than cash bundles for mere media consumption.

Saudi Arabia's 'support' for Yemen means Yemenis should be prepared to face further ordeals. Observers may argue that Saudi Arabia cannot be responsible for all of Yemen's affairs. But while it is true that many of the country's problems are domestic issues, there's no denying the Saudi-led coalition has created innumerable calamities for Yemenis since 2015. The deadly fallout of the coalition's bombing campaign, and the ongoing decline of the Yemeni riyal are just two examples.

This financial aid will yield no genuine positive impact on the economic situation in Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition controls Yemen's air, ground and sea ports - and the vital money-generating sectors - including gas, petrol production and exportation. It dictates what should be done in Yemen and how. The coalition undermines the internationally recognised government and confronts any efforts to establish a government presence in the Houthi-free areas.

The coalition recruits militant forces to weaken the legitimate government, as is the case with the UAE-backed separatists militias in Yemen's south. It contributes to starving the people and destroying their infrastructure. Far from being the rescuer, millions of Yemenis see it as a heartless and careless culprit. 

Practically speaking, the coalition gives Yemen leftovers and robs it of its sovereignty, independence and dignity.

A Yemeni government appreciative of crooked Saudi policy  

Whatever damage the Saudi-led coalition may be doing, Yemen's internationally recognised government appears to react only with expressions of appreciation. For this government, it seems, any criticism of Saudi wrongs in Yemen is off the table.

On Tuesday, Prime minister Ahmed Bin Dagher expressed deep concern over the continuous devaluation of the Yemeni currency, blaming the Houthis, the separatists and terrorists. At the same time, he wholeheartedly thanked Saudi Arabia for the recent grant.

The prime minister may persuade his government officials, but his rhetoric won't convince his people. If Yemenis were to condone the destructive policies of the Saudi-led coalition, they would - in turn - have become complacent about poverty, disease and war miseries. This can, and will never happen.

Bin Dagher made it clear that Yemen has lost 85 percent of its revenues. He also revealed the security issues in the Houthi-free areas will not allow for economic stability, and that "the strategies we follow are defective".

Should he have the courage to speak freely and fearlessly, he would scream at the top of his voice that the Saudi-led coalition has deviated from its stated objectives and it has betrayed Yemen disgracefully.

The governor of the Central Bank of Yemen Mohammed Zamam also attempted a meagre explanation for the financial mess, saying the commercial banks and money exchange centres are speculating on the riyal, leading to its slide in value.

Notwithstanding the crooked agenda of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, the Yemeni government officials persist in kowtowing to Saudi Arabia. Their subordination can be attributed to two reasons: First, the government does not have the military power it needs, and second, it is incapable of solving its financial troubles alone, given its limited revenue sources.

This plight has painted the government as impotent, leading to deepening foreign interference.

Ultimately, Yemen requires self-rule to recover

The resolution to the economic crisis in Yemen is much easier than ending the war. Simply put, Saudi Arabia and the UAE should allow the legitimate government to exercise its authority without any open or behind-the-scenes obstruction in the Houthi-free areas.

These two countries can help Yemeni leaders manage the country, but they should not act in their place, or employ them to do so. Once this happens, Yemen, or at least its conflict-free territories, will enjoy a healthier economy.

Ultimately, Yemen requires self-rule to recover. Government officials abroad - including the president - in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or elsewhere, will be required to come home. So long as the Saudi-led coalition purposely keeps the legitimate government outside Yemen, Saudi or other foreign bailouts will not be effective solutions to Yemen's crumbling economy.

The writer is a Yemeni journalist, reporting from Yemen, whose identity we are protecting for their security.

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.