Military Plated Car Drivers Experts in Arousing Public Indignation [Archives:2001/27/Viewpoint]

July 2 2001

Just a few days ago, I was invited to a reception at the house of a high-ranking official. I drove my own two-door car. But I was prevented from driving into the parking place of the house because I did not have a driver. “Where is the guest? You must be the driver.” asked one of the guards. I explained to him that I was the guest and I had no driver. With a definite aggressive tone he said, “You cannot get in, just park your car in that corner!” pointing to the corner of the street about 100 meters away from the main gate.
As I walked all the way to the gate, I realized that most of the cars were military plated with “Al-Jaish” marked on the plates. By the time I reached the gate, I found tens of armed soldiers standing at the gate. I first thought that those were guards of the building, but was later told that they were escorting the sheikhs and officials who had been invited.
After the reception, as I walked out of the gate I saw many military uniformed men and also some armed tribesmen heading quickly to their cars shouting, “the sheikh is coming.” I was shocked to find those brownish TOYOTA military cars speeding towards the gate. They then opened the doors of a brand new luxurious 2001 Land Cruiser and let their Sheikh in. The escorts (all Military cars) drove crazily away from the scene.
It has become familiar to find military cars all over the country driving in breakneck speed and sometimes causing accidents resulting in the death of innocent civilians. One of such incidents happened near YT premises about a month or so ago when an old man was hit by a speedy military car while crossing the road. He was killed on the spot and the vehicle carelessly drove away. Later we realized that the car belonged to an influential sheikh who owns several cars.
I once asked a traffic policeman about his views regarding military vehicles. What he said was frank and courageous, “I curse the day those military plates were issued,” he said. “Not only can’t we punish those drivers for their traffic violations, but we sometimes get insulted by them. They do believe they are above the law!” he added.
Those sheikhs and military officers who possess those vehicles believe that they have the right to drive rashly in the streets regardless of the chance of killing innocent people. Who gave them the right to do so? Why can’t they be punished? Is it too late to ban those plates and have them respect the law? Many questions come to mind regarding those vehicles that multiplied after the unification.
If there is only one important conclusion to draw from those stories, then it would be the fact that military plated car drivers have indeed become experts in arousing public indignation and they must be refrained from their reckless behavior!