Yemen's Acute Predicament: Corruption
Abdulla Al-Baraddooni, a late famous literary personality, who was handicapped with blindness from the age of six years old, once said in the early 1990s, in 26 September, the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces in Yemen, that history will judge Yemen as hosting the "most corrupt regime in history" (For more on Baraddooni see this link: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/08/31/arts/abdullah-al-baradooni-70-yemeni-poet.html. While this conclusion may be difficult to affirm, since only God can truly make such a precise adjudication, which includes, the past, present and future, as Baraddooni intended his conclusion to encompass. However, it is clear that as the days, weeks, months, years and decades proceed, we are slowly beginning to attest that the blind poet and observer of our political and literary world indeed had more vision and insight than most people with 10/10 vision. It is now so obvious that corruption has crept into every level of public service in Yemen. Even the outside world is beginning to detest such outright reliance on corruption, which Yemen has become characterized by, and through anyone who has arrived to any apparent semblance of political power or clout. With this in mind, there is a story that an old dear friend likes to often recite to give us some laughter and to soften our disgust at all the calamities one hears now – calamities that often accompany a government beset by chronic corruption. The story goes like this:
"Once upon a time, there was a king of some remote land, who married a beautiful lady, who had a somewhat imbecilic father. The father was not imbecilic enough to realize that he can certainly profit from this opportunity that came with this nuptial arrangement. A couple of years after the wedding, the King's father-in-law (FIL for short hereafter) began to notice how many of the senior officials at the top levels of authority were developing large estates and fortunes. He therefore whispered to the King: 'Your Majesty, why don't you assign me to a senior position, where I could be most helpful to you in running the affairs of state. Of course, the King saw in this an opportunity to have a laugh as well and assumed that this was one of the imbecilities of his father in law. Without any further ado, the King issued the Decree assigning his FIL as the Minister for Felus Catus Affairs . The FIL was not about to be outdone by this sarcasm of the King. Whenever the King was in public or at a meeting somewhere, he started to whisper jokes into the King's ear. The King was seen continuously laughing at the corny jokes of the King's FIL; without the King knowing this, eventually, this caught the eyes of many who wish to win the King's favor. They started to shower the FIL with gifts and money and within a very short while the FIL had amassed a great fortune, because everyone saw the FIL as the most influential person to the King. Wherever the FIL went people greeted him with generosity and humility, believing that if they ever wanted anything from the King, the FIL was the direct medium to go through.
Pretty soon the other government officials, who were once the King's closest advisors and functionaries, began to complain about how the King's FIL was reaping all the profits from their work. The King was not amused anymore by this affinity claimed by his FIL, and started to notice firsthand the many properties he has accumulated and to ask about the bank accounts the FIL had. He called his FIL and demanded an explanation. The FIL told the King: 'I never asked anyone to give me anything. Nor did I require any services from anyone. When the people saw how you were receiving me and acting so 'cozy' with me, whenever I told you a joke or two, they all rushed to send me gifts and gratuities. Most of these, I have no idea where they came from. When the King found that his FIL was telling the truth, he knew he was outdone by him and simply left him alone, but demanded that he should never come to whisper anything into his ears anymore. The King insisted that his FIL should start telling those tales he kept whispering to him to everyone and thus clear his stained record in the eyes of the disbelieving public. The FIL could not be pleased more by anything else. He did as the King ordered and went on to tell his stories to all those in attendance with the King. He only got to attract greater attention as the King had now allowed him to speak to all and as the King laughed so did everyone, even if only to please the King.
This only increased the wealth of the FIL; thus, he almost matched the King in material wealth. The King could not help but then appoint him as his Prime Minister as he continuously outwitted him and all the other officials. Hence, no one lived happily ever after, because the FIL never had any education to speak of and never had the faintest idea of what public service entailed. He always simply viewed it as the quick path to wealth and power."
For Yemen the rest is history, as only the insightful blind man once saw it, over a decade and a half ago, before it became ever so obvious to the entire world.