Gentlemen, Look for a solution, a true solution… [Archives:2000/05/Viewpoint]

January 31 2000

We have all been watching carefully what the government has been doing in order to secure the peaceful release of the poor American that is still captive in the time this issue is released. We have been keeping an eye on what the Ministry of Interior would do, what the government would do, and most important of all, what the President would do regarding this unusual kidnapping incident. However, unfortunately, all that they have done was simply not enough to release the hostage, but it was not enough to even have a simple clue to whom the kidnappers are and where the hostage is.
The government of Yemen has a lot to worry about if the release of the hostage is not guaranteed. It is true that the US Embassy is polite in dealing with the government. It is true that they trust their efforts and good will to do its best to release the hostage. However, even if they don’t express their true feelings, I don’t think that they would be satisfied with how kidnapping incidents have developed through the years until they have reached a level where the whole government feels helpless and clueless without the simplest idea about the fate of the hostage.
It was not surprising for me to hear the latest report from a fellow journalist saying, “security forces are in complete disappointment as they have failed so far to identify the kidnappers. They are still waiting for any mistake by the kidnappers so that they could get any clue whatsoever. They feel helpless and aimless as they have been facing a lot of pressure from the leadership, all to no avail. It is interesting how a few tribesmen could generate chaos within the government.”Frankly speaking, this was expected because the government has never made a true solution to kidnapping. It always was lucky in providing temporary solutions that would satisfy some of the parts involved for a limited time, but a solid and concrete solution was out of question.
The strategies that have been implemented recently regarding using force against kidnappers have been of some success. But now we see a direct consequent to this pressure: the kidnappers are not revealing where they are. This way the forces will not be able to crush them, as they do not know where they are! This strategy seems to have been implemented as a counter attack by the kidnappers, which so far seems to have put the whole government in a tough and embarrassing situation.
It was not the way that the government dealt with kidnapping which concerns me most, but what rather concerns me most is the government’s inability or unwillingness to seriously fight corruption in all fields (economy, administration, justice, security, etc.)
The government had the illusion that using force against kidnappers without improving their standards of living would be the right way to go. However, after some limited success, their theory proved itself wrong. Why? Because to find a solution to a problem, we need to look at the source of the problem. We need to seek the original reasons why kidnappers kidnap foreigners. Obviously, the true reason is the down falling economy. It is the corruption that has been eating away the country’s resources. Corruption is in fact, the only reason why the country has been held back of much improvement in life standards overall. Kidnappers are like me and you, they are also human beings who need money to feed their families and teach their children, and need services to live a descent life. Why then doesn’t the government give a greater deal to this vital issue of corruption which is every year increasing intensively, in ministries, in governmental offices, and even in courts. Why couldn’t the authorities get rid of the corrupt figures who are the main cause of the miseries we are going through? How much do we need to repeat our request to do something serious in an attempt to replace the decayed officials with honest and highly qualified noble people? Is it too difficult to do so? Yemen has more than 17 million Yemenis of which I believe a reasonable number would be qualified to run the government in a more responsible and honest manner.
Dear Gentlemen at the top,
Why are you ignoring the practical steps towards a true solution? You can see the conditions around you and understand why all these things are happening. If you ignore them, then it would be as if you are trying to block the sun and pretend it is not there. Isn’t it time to dedicate yourselves to a national and noble mission, which is to take the first steps in the right path, in the path of transparency and developing good strategies for the national benefit of the country?
After all, like other kidnapping incidents, this incident may end up with the release of the hostage and the capture and punishment of the kidnappers. However, is this the way it should continue? Don’t we need to have an end to these incidents? A Question that needs to be answered, and answered soon……
Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf       
Chief Editor