FOUR TRIBESMEN KILLED IN A REVENGE OPERATION LAST WEEK Tribal Acts of Vengeance, Where to? [Archives:2000/20/Reportage]

May 15 2000

By: Hassan Al-Zaidi
Last Monday four people from Al-Tairi tribe were shot dead in front of Dhafar hotel in Taiz street in the capital Sana’a in an act of vengeance between the tribe of Al-Tairi and Al-Jahmi, one of Al-Riyashia tribes, Ridaa district, the governorate of Al-Baidhaa. The killers who were in a car managed to flee the place and the security authority did not do anything about the killing incident.
It seems that tribal conflict between the tribes of Ridaa city has been renewed and to make the capital city of Sanaa a place convenient for settling their disputes. Al-Tairi tribe and Al-Dhahab, a branch of Qifa tribe got engaged in fightings and bloody conflicts since January 1988 when one of Al-Dhahab Sheikhs, Ahmed Nasser Al-Dhahab was killed. This war has up to now claimed the lives of about 64 persons from both sides in addition to hundreds of injured, 17 of the dead have been killed in the capital. Among those got killed in Sanaa were sheik Ahmed Mahdi Al-Arbachi along with six of his family members, all were killed in mid 1989 in Hasaba street of Sanaa. In 1990 the son of sheik Ahmed Nasser Al-Dhahab, Saif, was killed at Al-Tahrir square in the capital. Killing is still going on between the two parties. Since early eighties both tribes of Al-Dhahab and Al-Mahni in Ridaa city have been engaged in fierce battles where one hundred persons got killed and other hundreds wounded.
As for other tribes fighting each other and at war with each other ever since the eighties, such as the tribes of Ma’reb, Al-Jawf, Shabwa, Saada and Sanaa and other areas, the victims of those wars and fightings are estimated at thousands of people. Adding to those is the present fighting between the tribes of Waiela and Daham. The issues of revenge among them are still going on. Any tribe would not accept the idea of having have more or extra deads in its ranks during their fightings, therefore it is necessary to kill more so that the number of killed from the two sides would be equal. This means that in such state of affairs any tribesman is liable to be killed any time.
Yemen’s tribesmen are in possession of large quantities of weapons and military equipment they had them during the conflict between the Republic and the monarchic regime when they had played a role in it. They are also able to buy on weapons market in Yemen such as Jahana Market, 50 kilometers far from the capital.
The state has failed exploit these potentials to the effect of forming from them a reserve people’s army. Some elements in the state have on the contrary endeavored to squander these potentials through instigating commissions among the tribes.
There are many reports indicating that Yemeni citizens possess around 50 million pieces of arms and many , notables and social dignitaries confirm that the phenomenon of tribal vengeance is the most dangerous problem resulting from tribal fightings. The also say that vengeance maintains the state of conflict among tribes and any side can trigger fighting at any time.
The policy followed during the eighties was one of the major factors for fomenting wars and seditions among the tribes for the purpose of exhausting their power and make them preoccupied in whirl of internal conflicts and be away from getting involved in politics. The government and the president announce on many an occasion their being intent to put an end to political revenge in Yemen but nothing tangible has come to surface in this respect. The situation is getting worse and worse day by day and the capital has become a suitable venue for tribes to settling their accounts with each other by taking revenge in downtown of the capital. The problem here is that innocent tribesmen, not involved in the conflict or fighting and having nothing to do with them, become direct victims just because they are from this or that of the warring tribes. What is more dangerous is that the government keeps silent towards this situation and does not take any measure against it or find solutions to it or its causes or stave off its danger. This stand on part of the government might be taken as confirming some accusations put forward by some sheikhs and tribesmen in that some officials in the government are using and encouraging the state of conflict among tribes for political calculations and personal interests.
The government is blamed for not intervening in tribal fightings and conflicts to stop them and solve the problems that excited them and also to deter those responsible for instigating a state of war among tribes. We find that third party sheikhs and leading tribesmen are the only people who exert mediatory efforts to solve the disputes for the purpose of ending bloodshed.
One would query about when would tribesmen stop this unacceptable phenomenon and when would the state take strong deterrent measures to save the youth and students, sons of the tribes being murdered in the streets of the capital, or is the eighties policy still being pursued today?