Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Anarchy Looms in Yemen

There has been a deep ideological and political differences between former Yemen dictator Saleh and Houthi. Hence, both indeed sidelined each other during the last three years. e.g., Houthi refused to dismantle "revolutionary committee” and Saleh (GPC) sought to dominate the political scene.

Saleh and Houti alliance was merely a marriage of convenience and it was a matter of time for it to break up.  Saleh fought the Houthi rebels for six-year (2004-2010) which has transformed the rebel into effective militants that know nothing but war. And when it was convenient Saleh made an alliance with them in the face of the Saudi-led Coalition. But the savvy former president miscalculated the fact that a reckless/populist rebel group with no clear political agenda can make the flammable cocktail and will eventually fire on his face. Saleh death is the result of survival driven erratic policies, now he joins the fate of his predecessors of the Yemen Arab Republic presidents (Former North Yemen) who were either ousted in coup d'├ętat or assassinated.

Anarchy looms in Yemen and today we witness the destruction of what left of the "Saleh-authoritarian" state in Yemen and the rise of a theocratic non-state actor (Houthi),- who strive to rule by creed and sword!

1. Abdullah al-Sallal (1962 – 1967): Ousted by a coup after five years.
2. Abdulrahman Al-Iryani (1967 - 1974): Deposed after six years.
3. Ibrahim Al-Hamdi (1974 -1975) Assassinated after three years.
4. Ahmed Ghashmi (1978-1978): Assassinated in less than a year.
5. Ali Abdullah Saleh (1978 -2017): killed ”liquidated” after 39 years in power. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Western Journalists: Questions to be Asked when interviewing Saudi de facto King (MBS)

Dear "the Next" Thomas L. Friedman,

These are some of the questions which you should ask and challenge the Saudi Crown Prince and de facto King, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to answer when interviewing him over shared lamb dishes.

Here you go!

1. In January 2015, your father, King Salman enthroned and less than three months, you were appointed the minister of defence and your first major decision was to wage a war on the poorest neighbouring state, Yemen. Did you expect to win the war by applying Nazi “blitzkrieg” method?

2. Did you use the war as a way to promote yourself to power by making the unknown young MBS who lacks merits and experience, a visible face and noticeable?

3. Your father Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the King, but you seem running the country. Who is in charge of the country today?

4. Your father was the former governor of Riyadh and he witnessed the first historical Saudi women demonstration by cars in 1990, demanding to lift the ban on women's driving. Your father oversaw the punishment against those women ( they were arrested, imprisoned, and had their passports confiscated. Some lost their jobs, others were expelled from schools, and all of them faced defamation and smear campaigns) Was lifting the ban on women driving this year, a pragmatic decision due to fall in oil prices or is it a belief in gender equality?

5. You said in your first given interview " Saudi women are not used to working. She needs more time to accustom herself to the idea of work. A large percentage of Saudi women are used to the fact of staying at home. They’re not used to being working women. It just takes time",- Some consider this statement a patronising but I am wondering how come Saudi women accustomed and managed to change their perception of work and are ready to drive in less than three years of your rule?

6. Some say that you subverted the tradition of the internal political consensus that kept the house of Saud intact, despite myriad contradiction factors in the politics of governance, by concentrating power in your hand and the hand of your brothers?

7. Your economic vision 2030, include an increasing role of the private sector up to 70 percent. What measures you intend to apply for protecting the middle class and poor Saudi families from the grave impact of privatisation on their lives so that they do not have to suffer under the mercy of a fluctuating private market?

8. You are often waxing lyrical about the young Saudi generation. Nevertheless, The economic plan 2030 was drafted by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Why didn't you consult or involve young people and Saudi intellectuals in crafting the vision?

9. Part of your plan is the commitment to some form of tax payment, including - among others - a value-added tax of 5%. Do not you think that imposing taxation without representation is a form of tyranny?

10. Why are you not willing to rewrite the social contract that governs the Saudi state relation to its subjects so that it becomes compatible with the major economic changes?

11. Every Saudi intellectual who has questioned or refused to approve your branded vision has either been imprisoned or forced into exile, like the case of Essam al-Zamel, Saudi-Arabia’s well-known economist and entrepreneur who criticised privatising the only natural resource in the Kingdom (listing around 5% of the shares of state-owned oil company Aramco). You sending contradictory messages, you strive to reform yet you imprison critics and reformists?

12. In the era of mass privatisation, it is highly likely that rates of poverty will increase in the Kingdom, perpetuating inequality and injustice. This is precisely what has occurred in the United Kingdom, and the United States. Why don't you permit the establishment of independent civil society NGOs and unions that monitor corruption, and protect employees’ rights and marginalised groups?

13. In September, the state lifted the ban on women’ driving but at the same time it called Saudi feminists and women rights activists and demanded their silence on critiquing the government for not ending male guardianship system that hinders women’s free mobility and independency. One such silenced voice is women’s rights activist Aziza Al Yousef, who is a leading figure in the campaign to end male guardianship over women.

-      Why the state is feeling threatened by the voice of feminists, is it because it challenges the norm and the political patriarchal system?

14. You claim fighting corruption, but do not you think a separation of powers would ensure corruption-free society?

15. Why your father is not one of the royal elite who was detained since his name was mentioned in Panama Papers in an offshore tax haven scandal?

16. Why aren't you holding a public, open and transparent investigation of the accused kleptocrats?

17. Your family, Salman’s family run Tharawat Holding, a private firm specialising in investments in businesses, technology, food, sports, development and real estate. How could ensure that your family’s company won't be favoured to win state contracts in the time of privatisation? 
18. Under the signature of your father King Salman,  around 364 royal decrees were issued, mainly on the dismissal and replacement of different state posts, as well restricting and creating new state entities linked directly to the King such as National security apparatus, and the Public Prosecutor entity. You have grabbed all major political, economic, security, and royal court portfolios; You are the minister of defence, chairman of Aramco's Supreme Council, first deputy prime minister the president of the council of economic and development affairs, chief of the Royal Court, founder of the Islamic Military alliance to fight terrorism, the general supervisor of the Camel club and the Falcons Club, and head of anti-corruption commission.
- How do you manage all these positions at the same time?  Moreover, how do you maintain your integrity and that of your family and not fall prey to corruption? Are you going to monitor yourself and the family business?