Do we Have Government? [Archives:2001/33/Focus]

August 13 2001

Silver Lining
Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi
[email protected]
Do we have a government? Do people still feel the sovereignty of the state? Several other questions are haunting the minds of some people right now. The Yemeni police has failed to find the whereabouts of the German diplomat, Rainer Berns, who was snatched from Sana’a on July 23. This is very embarrassing. This incident could have moved hell and heaven, bringing the dismissal of the cabinet, if it has taken place in another country. What is more ridiculous is that our officials still fool the public opinion and confirm that they want to release the hostage peacefully. Where is hostage? then who abducted him? In the beginning, the police said the diplomat was kidnapped by tribesmen from al-A’mas in Dhamar. But that was falsified by the tribesmen of Al-A’mas. What is more sarcastic is that the Vice Interior Minister went to Dhamar to negotiate with kidnappers to set the hostage free. It is this leniency the government has showed towards the outlaws that has encouraged these tribesmen to go ahead with their unlawful acts. Over than 200 foreigners were abducted since 1993 including diplomats like the Polish ambassador. During this time, the government has not been able to sort out this headache. I believe these tribesmen can be civilized and made conscious of law and order. But the problem is that the regime has been enhancing tribalism in the whole country. It has singled out the financial supplies to key sheikhs of tribes on a monthly basis. This behavior has promoted the culture of tribalism and of sheikhdom in Yemen at length. There are several areas in which tribal norms were decaying and withering away. But now they are being restored. For instance, the culture of caring weapons has become common in these places. This can be spelt out in the amount of weapons of different sorts that are being at hands of the people now. Reports say that over 50 million pieces of weapons are at hands of the people. This is very dangerous and the government is to be held accountable for this mess. As a result, random killings and kidnappings are taken place. Tribesmen come to the capital and settle their accounts that are of tribal revenge background. Almost ten people are killed with weapons per day. What is the business of the government then? Our officials are repeatedly calling for foreign investment to come to the country. Can businessmen invest in such an unstable atmosphere? Laws are not enough for investors. They need enactment of the laws. We need fair judiciary. Even local investors don’t feel secure about their business particularly since tribal sheikhs have gone to business. They use their power and influence to get prosperous in a flash. So many projects have failed or scrambled as they are handled by tribal businessmen and nobody can hold them accountable as they are free riders.
Appointing people at high ranking positions is always based on competence and efficiency. But in Yemen it is based on nepotism ,favoritism and other sorts of such stuff. Sons of influential tribal sheikhs, military men and officials at the power center can easily take over high ranking positions. It is true that some of them are university graduates. But there are other people who are highly qualified and have studied in distinguished universities. However, they don’t reach such important positions. Some of them are still jobless or have gone to look for their fortune outside the country. Their plight is that their fathers are of ordinary background, having no tribal influence to back him/her up. You might think I have gone astray and discussed several topics. But I believe these factors altogether are interrelated and construct the real ordeals that will keep us left behind. It is these factors that will stall any effort to go ahead. The German hostage is also a victim of this chaos and lawlessness.
We need a very strong regime that is willing to build a civilized modern society. We need its slogans to come true and put into practice. We need a regime that admits that tribalism is an outdated fragment of the society in this era of the globalization. We need accountability. In short, we need to lead the sovereignty of political regime that can do justice to everybody by enhancing the power of law and order. People need to feel equal before the law. Otherwise, every one will take the law into their hand and laws of the jungle will prevail. This has begun to take place now.