"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yemen's Clever New Monetary Source

Ellen Knickmeyer has a good piece in Foreign Policy about how Yemen is essentially outsourcing their navy to guard ships trying to make it through the pirate-infused waters around the Red Sea and Aden.  The sub-headline, which I don't think she wrote, calls it a "gun for hire" strategy, which while accurate is a bit unfair.  This is a pretty good revenue stream for Yemen, and it isn't as if they are distributing their navy to far-flung shores while ignoring home: piracy and smuggling are issues in Yemen, and this can help the navy become more professional and better-trained.  As Knickmeyer points out, there is a lot of potential for corruption here, of course, but I don't have much of a problem with that.  For one thing, this isn't money that would otherwise be going elsewhere- it isn't aid that is being funneled into the pockets of well-connected cousins.  It is an outside and independent revenue-generating operation.  Yes, it would be better if one thought the money raised could dig wells and irrigation channels, but that is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And I do think this can be good: one of the most important areas of income for Yemen is the Port of Aden- once great, now dangerous and dilapidated.  Insurance rates are exorbitant, and shipping companies are wise to avoid it.  This is crippling for Yemen.  If they can work to make the area safer, and develop an effective navy/coast guard (and this is one of the areas where the US has a long-term interest, and has been helping, albeit with a wax/wane kind of intensity), it can help revitalize the port.  Granted, that brings up a whole magilla about sharing the money, which gets to the heart of the southern issue, but it is better to be arguing about a whole pie than fighting over scraps.

Anyway, the article is well worth reading. 

1 comment:

  1. Sally Healy and I covered this issue in our recent briefing paper on Yemen and Somalia -