Ambassador links security with developmentPositive steps by US embassy should be encouraged [Archives:2003/687/Opinion]

November 20 2003

Hassan Al-Zaidi
“Oh! How terrible!” is an expression used as an exclamation of surprise and pain uttered by foreign visitors heading to Marib and al-Jawf governorate.
At first sight, a visitor will be amazed by deteriorating health, social, and educational conditions undergone by the people there.
Inhabitants of those two governorates live in a land considered to be one of the most significant and historical sites in the world.
This is because it is bestowed with rich archaeological treasures as well as a rich spot for oil production.
In addition to this, the two governorates have fertility of soil, and availability of water resources. They have been termed by our forefathers “The Land of The Two Paradises” mentioned in the verses of the Holy Qura'an.
So many vital projects are in need to be implemented. Life there has been still difficult. No paved roads have been yet established and no hospitals or scientific institutes have been built.
Amid the state's ignorance and silence of political parties, endless sufferings are undergone by the inhabitants of those two governorates.
Only saturation media coverage about kidnapping incidents, tribal killings and disputes are reported by local reporters. Nothing has been reported about health or education needs.
In fields such as education, agriculture, and health, the US Ambassador to Yemen, Edmund Hull has done a praiseworthy work to alleviate trial and tribulations as well as the horrible conditions of inhabitants of al-Jawf and Marib. Thank you so much for that!
Promises have been taken and actions have been spoken by him more than words.
Developmental projects have been officially inaugurated and among those projects is the President's Hospital in Marib. It not of course a foundation stone that has been laid for political purposes such as an election campaign or the like.
Perhaps, I can say here that the US ambassador to Yemen has been heading to those governorates to foundations, as it has been reported by some media reports that his visits need skepticism.
I must say and confirm here that I'm not defending the US ambassador from being an out-of-town visitor or for the policy of his country.
I only say that for defending the tribesmen of those areas against the view that the US ambassador has not come to drive a hard bargain with them, to explode an oil pipeline, or conspire against smuggling antiquities of this great country. No!
I reiterate that the US ambassador hasn't come to those areas with an armored combat tank or military vehicles to track down terror masterminds such as, Abu Ali or Abu Asem.
In my view, the US ambassador Hull has a desire to visit Marib or governorate after he had received information and reports by some political leaderships or parties and some other officials describing those areas as a safe haven for terrorists and fertile hideout for them to grow and prosper.
Now, Hull has already visited those areas and was astounded to see the harsh reality there as well as poverty of its inhabitants.
He has been fully aware of the security conditions and the urgent need for rendering further developmental projects. We hear him always reiterating that “No security is without development and no development is without security,”
He also realized the necessity for a real development for the benefit of inhalations and tribes in those areas.
In his speeches delivered, he placed an emphasis that those deprived areas will gain a proper and secure life.
We in this case oppose and condemn the US double policy in the Middle East but at the same time, we don't oppose the US ambassador for the same reason.
We don't oppose his visit to those areas for rendering developmental projects or laying foundation stones.
His visits are positive and great. We thank him for this and congratulate him on paying a special attention for the deprived people.
Opposition papers must first of all criticize the government for turning a blind eye to those areas.
At the same time, whoever assists the area, even if it is the US embassy, should be appreciated and encouraged to continue.
We need to understand that politics need not be mixed with assistant programs for development. I personally do disagree with US policies in Iraq and elsewhere, but when it comes to assistance programs such as those in MAreb -and hopefully in many other areas-, one needs to express appreciation and gratitude.
This is why I thank the ambassador once again, and wish him to continue.