“No Development without Security” [Archives:2001/47/Viewpoint]

November 19 2001

Yes indeed. There could be “no development without security and no security without development,” a sentence I quote from a speech of H.E. Edmund Hull, US Ambassador to Yemen during the seminar organized by Yemen Times more than two weeks ago.
The truth in this statement is undeniable. It reflects thorough experience and understanding of the conditions that arise as consequences of others. I have heard it from many businessmen. “We cannot invest in this country unless there is true stability and security,” they say. And they are right!
If you cannot guarantee your rights because of the lack of security or because of an inefficient or corrupt judicial system, then how can you invest in the country? Unfortunately, we are in a time in which insecurity has caused businessmen to refrain from investing and some donors from donating. It is about time that the government gives the issue of security the attention it deserves. This cannot be accomplished by placing checkpoints for inspecting vehicles and people. It can only be accomplished once there is respect for the law. Only when the rich and poor, strong and weak, all abide by the laws and regulations, will we be able to establish security and hence prosper.
President Saleh had said it many times. Prime Ministers of consecutive governments have also confirmed it. Without law and order, we can neither have security, nor will we prosper.
Just today, I have witnessed more than three traffic violations committed by different vehicles belonging to the army and tribesmen, while the traffic officer was merely watching. It is obvious that he was afraid of confronting those powerful individuals, who see themselves as above the law.
This scenario repeats itself everywhere in the country and in different circles. The law seems to be implementable only on the weak, while the strong are most of the time exempted.
This calls for serious reconsideration of our system of governance and study: why those things are happening, why the government is seen to be so weak by the public, and why some figures still see themselves as above the law.
This phenomenon reflects itself clearly on society in having some tribesmen continue to carry their weapons in cities and to kidnap foreigners. How many times have tribesmen kidnapped foreigners and then are let go after tribal mediation and arbitration? I have heard of true stories of some who even became government officials.
To put it another way, in Yemen, tribalism can sometimes overpower the law, which results in a situation of lawlessness and disrespect for the constitutional regulations. Hence, security problems continue to exist and to grow in number and in impact.
Hence, it is only logical to see that lawlessness leads to insecurity, and insecurity leads to more backwardness.
This is exactly what we don’t want. This is what we oppose and hope the leadership can bring an end to. And I believe that this is what the ambassador meant by saying that there could be “no development without security.”
I hope our officials get the message!