Monday, July 16, 2012

Azim Ismael: Dubious Conniver from South Africa

This blogger is not averse to spreading bad talk about anyone, whether from South Africa, Yemen, or from any place else in the world.  However, when someone has gained one's full trust and confidence and one has become satisfied that there is no harm in dealing with such a person, surely it is not in good taste, or proper business decorum that someone who has acquired such trust would all of a sudden prove to be no more than a conniving swindler. The writer of this post has, unfortunately, become a gullible victim of such abuse of trust.
To make a long story short, the subject person named in the title came to Yemen (staying at the plush Movenpick Hotel in Sana'a), about four months ago.  He specifically sought the assistance of this writer.  As a writer, consultant and researcher, the writer has acquired considerable knowledge on the socio-political-economic situation in Yemen and the Middle East. This knowledge was transparently reflected in the writings of the author in this blog, other blogs and the Yemen Times for several years.  The writer also engaged  in research consultancies with renowned international NGOs.  Azim Ismael called upon this writer to discuss the possibility of mutual cooperation as an ongoing provider of reports on the developments in Yemen. He stated that since South Africa did not have an embassy in Yemen, this information would be useful to the South African Government in keeping abreast of the situation in Yemen, while benefiting from some of the analysis that this writer could provide.

Azim also promised to help Yemen in taking the transitional steps to a democratic and stable government, by sharing with this author the transitional steps taken by South Africa in this regard, which was of direct interest to the author as a founding member of the Yemeni Center for Transitional Justice.

Ismael claimed to be a member/partner of a research institute (I will not disclose the name for now), with a name that is quite similar to a well established institution in the field that enjoys international recognition.

The underlying major terms of the agreement between myself and Aziz Ismael, consummated in writing:

1) Azim's institute would compensate the consultant with remuneration of so much per month as a retainer, and another amount based on material provided, with the first payment made after the first three months retroactive from the agreement date (March 10).

2) That the information provided shall not be given to any third party or government and would not jeopardize the security and sovereignty of neither South Africa or Yemen.

Azim, soon after that, reported puzzlingly that his institute did not win the "tender" for the project with the South African Government, but insisted that this would not have a bearing on our arrangement and that I should continue as agreed.

On the other hand, there were numerous suggestions sent to the author that Azim's institute would like to fund a trip for the author of this blog to visit South Africa or another convenient place to meet with Azim and obtain payments of my dues, as early as 1 1/2 months into the relationship, for services to date and discuss the satisfactory results of my work so far, as confirmed by the "experts" in his firm.  I was perpelexed why payment cannot be made by simple bank transfer.  Nevertheless, I would welcome a chance to visit South Africa, to view first hand their experience in transitional justice
In the meantime, I did some internet checkings to see what I could find about Azim's "bona fide" institute, as this writer had assumed.  I also looked for possible tenders by the South African Government in the field of Azim's Institute.  There was no information on the name of the institute provided by Azim, but rather on institutes with very similar names, except for minor change in word places (however, all the words being the same). I asked Azim if the links I had connected with were for his firm. He quickly sent a startlingly incomprehensible response, which disassociated him from the linked firms, but obviously showed Azim's displeasure at such inquisitiveness. Nevertheless, Azim wanted the work of this writer to continue.

Throughout the three month period, Azim kept telling the author of his continuous "business trips", to the point where the author wondered when Azim did, in fact, work in his office in Pretoria, South Africa at all for that matter.  In the last trip by Azim, he said he would be away for a month and could not be reached by email, so not to send anything until his return. This sent a strong signal to my analytical mind that Azim may indeed be involved in dubious activity, as confirmed by the impossibility of obtaining any information on Azim or his "institute" in any of the relevant professional or social contact media.

After the lapse of the month, and as I did not get any emails from Azim, I sent an email asking if our arrangement is still standing, and whether I should proceed as agreed.  He did answer, saying he has just returned from his month long trip and is spending the weekend with his family and would be back on Monday, and then send further details as to how we should continue to proceed. In the meantime, I should continue as previously done in our agreement.  I was not convinced of Azim's sincerity or credibility anymore.

When Monday came, I sent a formal claim for my dues, which have now accumulated to a considerable amount, since the three-month "probationary" period was over by now. Azim never responded to any of my emails since that day.  I realized I was now left holding the bag and, admittedly, have been deceived and betrayed.

I sent an email to Azim, asking for my dues and a closing of the relationship, without any further obligations on anyone's part. Again, there were no responses. I tried to contact the institute he had deceivingly used to associate himself with originally, but they told me they knew nothing of the guy.

I sent an email to Azim Ismael, demanding payment of my dues, or else, I would have to inform every possible relevant party that might become victims of the wily conniving Azim, whether as beneficiaries of his "services" or as possible consulting partners or subcontractors.

Since, Azim still did not respond, I have decided to revert to the internet to make sure that no other innocent people become possible victims of Azim's lies and deceptions and to suggest extreme caution when dealing with Azim.  I leave the mystery of Azim's background and possible dubious activities for the competent authorities in South Africa and elsewhere to deal with accordingly. 

All the foregoing is fully backed by the exchange of written communications between this author and Azim Ismael, since the relationship began and is herein provided without any responsibility or liability on the part of this author.  Azim is fully entitled to respond to any of the information herein provided, and to rectify any possible misrepresentations made by first of all meeting his obligations.

There are of course other steps that the author has recourse to such as presenting an official complaint to the competent authorities in South Africa, but for the sake of preventing anyone else being misled and cheated by Azim, this blog seemed to be the best and surely the most effective legitimate recourse.   

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