Give peace a chance in Sa’ada [Archives:2007/1057/Opinion]

June 7 2007

One fully understands that the Government must confirm its ability to enforce law and order throughout the Republic of Yemen, in order to ensure stability and tranquility for all Yemenis. However, one also understands that in Yemen, there is a lot that the Government should be doing and there is no dispute about the inability of the Government to carry out most of its inherent and unavoidable tasks of governance, mainly providing the basic services to all the citizens of the country at reasonable affordable rates with equal ability to access to these services. In fact, it is not difficult to surmise: had the Government been as diligent in the latter as it is now in the former, when speaking in the Sa'ada context, there probably may not have been a Sa'ada problem to start with. There is no doubt that there has been poor attention to the development of the Province or Governorate of Sa'ada, which suffered more deprivation that any of the other Governorates or even outlying regions of Yemen. Even the remote Island of Socatra was accorded more attention and care than the Governorate of Sa'ada.

Therefore it is not impressive to hear the Government consider itself as a mere policeman over the citizens of the country, while looking the other way when asked to also give greater attention to its other duties of state, as if that is only a by-the-way task of governance. Time and again, the Government has organized workshops and seminars on the issues of development this country faces as all of Yemen's neighbors in the Arabian Peninsula achieve overall growth and general improvements in the standards of living of the people living in these countries, while in Yemen development is a retarded process. Surely to suffice by saying that the wealth of these countries facilitate this achievement is no more than a denial of the Yemeni Government's many compounding shortcomings, which seem never to find any relief or remedy.

Thus, one could presume easily that the people of Sa'ada find the Government will go to the point of demanding from them to abandon the religious persuasions that have taken years to be instilled within their spiritual domains,. However, at the same time, the Government fails to provide the most basic services of Government. one can then say that the people of Sa'ada are exercising the most logical approach to a Government that demands so much from its citizens, while forgetting that we live in a world of give and take, where respect is deserved only when mutual attainments are realized by the parties concerned. If the Government fails to realize this important aspect of the Social Contract, then someone needs to remind the Government that there are reciprocities involved that can never be overlooked, if Government wants to have the respect and loyalty of the citizens.

The observer understands well that when the war machinery has been activated in this country of ours, it is almost impossible to deactivate it. The instruments of statecraft are still primitive in Yemen, if the military brass and those other sleazy elements in our society can continue to bleed the society of all its resources just so they can serve their naive narrow interests.

Of course the best escape for Government, when faced by mounting pressures from within or from overseas, is to devise a security and military situation that will enable the Government to impose martial law and put the lid on all forms of protest and expression of regrets at the Government's chronic inabil.ity to get its act together and start worrying about fulfilling the minimal rightful demands of the constituencies that it wishes to impose its will upon. The issues in Sa'ada have become all the more clear:

1) The war is unjustified by any normal reasons for war, and it is regretful that the Government insists on using all its massive stockpiles of weaponry against its very own citizens.

2) The situation in Sa'ada could have been avoided from turning into a colossal nightmare that is distant from any near solution, if the Government could avoid phony expressions of “peaceful gestures” and carry on where the former Governor, Yahiya Al-Shami left off, by carrying out the promises the Government had given in the past efforts for achieving peace in Sa'ada.

3) In short, the Government should start talking about giving peace a chance in Sa'ada, because it has now, for all intents and purposes. failed in relying on war as a solution to the Sa'ada dilemma, which is really its own making to start with. How long must the Government continue to stack failure upon failure and still demand respect from anyone within or outside the Republic?

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.