By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 9 -- On the International Monetary Fund's embargoed conference call about Saudi Arabia on September 9, Inner City Pro asked the IMF's mission chief Tim Callen about the impact of the military operations on Yemen.
Callen told Inner City Press, "it's clear that the operations are going to have an impact. It's going to be one of the areas of pressure on the budget as we move forward as the operations proceed."
Inner City Pro asked about after-operation costs and Callen said the IMF hasn't considered these.
The three other questioners on the call were, from Riyadh, Reuters and a newspaper, and from Washington, the Financial Times. No more was said about the military operations on Yemen, in either questions or answers.
Back on April 17 at the IMF's annual meeting, Inner City Press asked, "On Yemen, given the fighting, airstrikes and uncertainly, any update on the IMF's first review? Any contacts with Hadi government or Houthis since March 26? What is the IMF's view of regional economic impacts?"
The IMF's Masood Ahmed replied that the IMF's first review remains “on hold until political situation clarifiies and until we can then assess impact on economy.”
He said “the impact of the crisis and conflict in Yemen is first and formost humanitarian, the real cost is the human cost. The economy is contracting, oil production is 40% lower, public spending and review is 1/3 down, reserves are down 1/4 this year.”
And so, Masood Ahmed of the IMF told Inner City Press, “so leads us to have our own small voice to call trying to find quickly a solution to ending the conflict in Yemen so the efforts the government was already trying to make last year to improve economic situation could be continued.”
But what are the prospects of Hadi returning to power? Now the UN has removed Jamal Benomar as mediator, slated to be replaced by one chosen by Saudi Arabia. Is that sustainable?
Back on March 26 amid the ongoing airstrikes in Yemen, Inner City Press asked the IMF about the status of its program in the country.
IMF Deputy Spokesperson William Murray said that the first review is postponed until things clarify.
Back on January 22, Murray had answered Inner City Press that while events in Yemen were not helpful, the review was not until Spring. Now it is postponed indefinitely.
On March 26, Inner City Press asked Murray if the IMF has had any contact with the Houthis. No, seemed to be the answer - certainly not in recent days, Murray specified. And since?
See more ICP, here.