Not Even a Last Hope? [Archives:2001/25/Focus]

June 18 2001
By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Like most Third World countries, Yemen suffers from many ills that come from being relatively small, with limited resources and a long history of isolation from the developments that have brought much progress to a number of areas in the world, leaving Yemen behind in the Middle Ages. This in turn maintained widespread ignorance and a tight clinging to ancient and often archaic customs and traditions that have been themselves a cause for remaining so backward. Some of this is coincidental, while much of it remains the product of our own doing.
Yet Yemenis have not despaired, notwithstanding the hardships they faced and the selfishness of their rulers, over the ages – and now. All the time they kept clinging to the small ray of hope that keeps them tied to their faith in their Creator, that in the end only good will prevail, and if their rulers have forsaken them, then the Lord Al-Mighty is bound to sense their faith in Him and show these rulers that He is truly the King of kings. This rather fatalistic approach to life has been the strong cause d’être of where we stand today and where many generations of Yemenis have stood in the past, because of their incorruptible faith in Allah and belief in His mercy and kindness to His believers.
But alas, our people have become victims of their own self pity to the point that they are unable to realize that really they must express themselves openly and frankly as to their expectations from their rulers. They must also let the rulers know that to this day they are unable to record any plus marks for them. On the contrary, the common Yemeni citizen is somewhat disturbed at the appalling state of the nation. Moreover, the unpleasantness of the situation seems to have a terrible clinging effect, that it is almost impossible to picture any hopeful trend in any sector of our destabilized socio-economic framework.
While much of our fate can be attributed to external and regional politics, a lot more can really be linked to our own apathy and “leaving it all to Allah”, to meet out His justice against these rulers, who have sent this nation downhill to the abyss of economic deprivation and social decay, methodically and systematically just so they an guarantee their permanent abode at the helms, so they can keep taking whatever they like for themselves and leave the majority of the population embroiled in unrelenting conflict over nothing!
One really hoped that eventually the rulers would come to realize that it is time that their people get a share of the spoils they have been thriving on for so many years now. But instead, it seems that now even the crumbs are going to be denied to the thousands who have become accustomed to eat out of garbage disposal bins. For now the superficial image of Yemen is enjoying some make up work, as the municipality does its job with a little more regularity than it used to. Just a year ago, Yemen might have earned the world title of the “Dirtiest Country in the World”. While this superficial make-up is fine and looks good, the other areas that really need cleaning are still left to rot and grow.
Corruption has not been touched upon in this country for over thirty years now, and the motto of government officials at the highest level has been: “It is a free for all and all you have to worry about is the ‘eye of jealousy’, so grab all you can and anyway you can, this is a ‘free country’ for crooks, embezzlers, mercenaries and all the lowly of the earth to thrive and prosper anyway they can, while the good people of the land are forced to find that they have been gulled into believing that all is well and dandy and there is really enough for everyone, so don’t fret about somebody getting the good out of life and God will reward you for your patience.
Even the ‘pious’ of the land are making fortunes, as religious propagators find themselves dealing in hard currency and human corpses and enjoying paradise twice, here and in the hereafter, for they have already decreed themselves to be honored with the good life twice in a row.
What a mockery has everything turned out to be! Government is no more the government that most people want or even expect. Religion has become the thriving economic sector, whether there is any real faith embedded or not. It doesn’t matter there is money and that is all that counts nowadays.
Morals are now a thing of the past, as there are now more people killed in Yemen daily than there are in the Holy Land! So why bother talk about morals, when you are so busy trying to make sure that you are not the victim of a blood feud, of which you may not even know how it started, or who are the feuding adversaries. Nevertheless there is no protection against stray gunfire. Yet the rulers say, keep your guns on your shoulders folks, for then you are truly a man and nobody can tell you what to do or who not to kill.
People are being killed left and right, by stray bullets or intentionally aimed RPG shells, dying of hunger, disease and now even depression has become a common cause of death, as millions find themselves without any sense of direction or hope as everything seems to go in the opposite direction of whatever aspirations or ambitions they had in life.
The more depressed find no other course except to take their own lives – do they see the hell of the afterlife as even more merciful then the hell we are facing now? Have our leaders lost their senses? Do not they see all that is going around them is not in tune with the official press version of the great achievements of the rulers? What achievements? Their castles, their foreign real estate, their women abroad? Are these achievements to be proud of?
For the rest of the population, it just has to be “Give us this day our daily bread!, for they have now taken away everything, including the garbage that was our last hope!”