Disarmament in Yemen vs. Disarmament in Mareb [Archives:2001/52/Viewpoint]

December 24 2001

Last weeks unfortunate accident in the governorate of Mareb has caused great concern and worry among the civilized Yemeni community. The fact that military forces were slaughtered by armed tribesmen and taken hostages was truly shocking.
The Special Military Forces may have committed a strategic mistake when they allowed the military planes to break the sound barrier leading to the great loss in lives that day, but by allowing tribesmen to possess and purchase more arms, Yemen as a whole is continuing to make the deadliest mistakes, reflecting a terribly frightening situation. This is a situation in which tribesmen are superior to the military in the Mareb region, not only in number of weapons, but also in number and viciousness.
In a time we hear of such a tragic incident in Yemen, we also hear of good news in Afghanistan. Armed Afghans living in the city of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, are currently being disarmed. It is truly refreshing to see that arms are being collected by international forces giving way for peace and stability in the city. Recent news reports from the city have shown great relief among the Afghan families who can at least feel some stability when walking through the streets of the city.
This is almost a dream come true for the Afghans, who have gone through so many miseries and wars whose sole instruments are light weapons.
Yet as Yemenis, we have our own dream. We have a dream of a country where only police and military forces are armed. We are dreaming of a secure and stable country where tribesmen cannot kidnap anymore and bandits cannot commit security violations as they would all be without weapons, the very tool used in such acts.
But before we can achieve a country without armed tribesmen, we need to work on making Yemen a country where law and order prevail over the law of force and weapons. We can only be closer to realizing this dream when sheikhs respect the law and when tribal leaders and officials walk without those accompanying heavily armed bodyguards, who usually cause fear among pedestrians.
What is happening today in Afghanistan is a source of hope for many nations of the developing world, who are still living in cities where armed gangsters and tribesmen can move easily causing them continuous anxiety and concern.
I want to stress that weapons may have helped settle wars in the past, but when their number is bigger than needed, they usually turn into time bombs.
With 60 million pieces of weapons and the number is growing by the day- Yemens time bomb has not yet exploded. But the clock is ticking, and it may not be long before we face a catastrophe, a disaster that we cannot imagine.