SAT 23 - 3 - 2019
Nov 6, 2018
Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies
CORRUPTION IN YEMEN’S WAR ECONOMY
This policy brief was prepared by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, in coordination with the project partners DeepRoot Consulting and CARPO – Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient.
Corruption, or the abuse of power for private gain, has been deeply entrenched in the Yemeni political economy for decades. Over the course of the ongoing conflict, however, as the war has fragmented and regionalized the country, state capture in Yemen has become far more complex. In the war economy, patronage networks are now emerging among previously marginal or unknown figures.
The financial involvement of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has extended patronage across national borders. Alleged collusion between Houthi-affiliated importers and officials allied with the
internationally recognized Yemeni government indicates patronage networks that potentially cross the frontlines of the war themselves. As greater numbers and a wider variety of actors profit from illicit activity in the war economy, vested economic interests in continued conflict become more entrenched.
If state capture is among the main drivers of Yemen’s war economy, then post-conflict recovery must include a strong anti-corruption agenda. Policymakers must begin planning to address corruption as a part of a potential post-conflict strategy. Given the multi-faceted pervasiveness of corruption in Yemen, any anti-corruption agenda must aim to understand the complex configuration of patronage networks in Yemen, to be introduced gradually, and to get the buy-in of as wide a group of Yemenis as possible.
Without these basic building blocks, more specific policy changes such as encouraging transparency or reducing conflicts of interest may founder. Corruption has become deeply entrenched in Yemen; any post-conflict anti-corruption agenda must be great in scope and long-term in vision.
The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy
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