Military Strikes Intensify in Habab The End Should Not Justify the Means! [Archives:1999/47/Viewpoint]

November 22 1999

What has happened in the Habab area in Marib province, is truly outrageous. It is the right of the state to order the deployment of military forces and take action against certain terrorist groups and elements that try to destabilize the country, but these terrorist actions should not be the excuse of the destruction of homes and farms of innocent people. After going to the area, and eye witnessing the damage the army forces caused to the houses and farms and even a mosque in the Habab valley, we were quite astonished, and we could not but publish the photos of the humanitarian disaster happening in that area.
The president should not allow such a mess to happen, as the forces are not organized, and blast and shoot in a random way. Some problems can be solved by force, but the level of force used should not exceed the limits and should always be in favor of security and stability of any region.
As our Yemen Times team went to the villagers and asked them why they think this is happening, they replied with quite astonishing answers. Some complained that the forces are destroying houses in a random way just to show superiority or power against the tribesmen. Others think that the security masses are trying through their actions to cause the tribesmen to stop kidnapping and exploding the oil pipelines. The rest think that they are targeting the wrong people, while the actual kidnappers have escaped the village, the forces are still hitting hard at civilian homes and destroying qat farms of normal villagers who are not related in any way to the kidnapping incidents.
My point of view is that force can be used, but precisely and to the point. It should be used when the target is known, well identified and located, without having any side effects on innocent people. It is well known that our army forces are not as well trained as they should be. They are not well qualified in finding targets, and confronting armed tribesmen in mountains and valleys. Hence, they usually hit randomly, leading to damage to others.
These actions should be stopped in the mean time, until the forces know exactly what they are after. It is the government’s duty to rebuild the houses and mosque of the villagers that have been damaged unintentionally. On the other hand, the forces should have a clear plan, target, and an intelligent investigating unit that can reveal where the kidnappers are and capture them directly rather than having forces storm the wrong targets.
The government should not be stubborn, and should take these suggestions seriously. We all want the interest of the country, but we should not implement the strategy of “the end justifies the means.” No, the end does not justify the means, especially if we are not so sure that the means would actually lead to the desired end. Our government should realize how to balance the way they do their actions. I am optimistic that the mess in Habab will stop and that things can be resolved peacefully without harming the interests of the innocent.
After all, we should join hands in favor of building the country in a constructive manner, and listen to critics, try to find our mistakes and try to correct them.
I hope my viewpoint reached its target!
Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf
Chief Editor