Islamic Jihad Calls for Conference [Archives:2001/06/Front Page]

February 5 2001

Reliable tribal sources told Yemen Times that leading figures from Islamic Jihad are currently preparing to hold a conference with influential tribal sheikhs in mid-February 2001 at Wadi Dhana, about 180 km southeast of the capital Sana’a.
According to the sources, tribal leaders from Mareb, Al-Jawf, and Shabwa governorates will attend the conference to discuss the current situation in their respective tribal regions.
Many tribes complain that the government does not fulfill its duties in providing necessary services such as electricity, education, health services, etc. for tribal regions, unless a kidnapping incident happens. They also claim that the government deploys military forces in their territories as a means of exerting pressure on them.
Other tribal sources close to the authorities are predicting the failure of the conference due to the high probability that it will take a political rather than tribal orientation, hence losing focus.
Analysts say that Jihads move appears to aim at gaining the support of powerful Yemeni tribes, especially after some of its members have been accused of being involved in recent terrorist attacks inside and outside Yemen.
Tribes tend to hold such conferences when relations with the authorities deteriorate. Conferences that have so far been held include the Saba Conference held at Wadi Dhana in the beginning of 1994, and the 1998 Tribal Conference held in Al-Jawf to announce an alliance between the Mareb, Jawf, and Shabwa tribes. The latest conference in July 1998 followed the governments decision to increase fuel and diesel prices, which resulted in military confrontations between the army and tribes that rejected the price hike.
During the conference, Military Airforce planes continuously flew over Al-Jawf and dropped several bombs on the area, resulting in the collapse of the conference. Although the tribes were fully armed and equipped with sophisticated weapons, they were no match for the military forces.