Opposition and the sea [Archives:2008/1143/Opinion]

April 3 2008

By: Sadiq Nasher
Since President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on opposition parties to drink from seawater, specifically those who are unsatisfied with the unity, nationwide comments on this statement have being growing sharper and sharper until the extent that some Hadramout's citizens actually went to the Arab Sea with their cups to drink from seawater. One of Hadramout-based websites published pictures for those people while they were drinking from seawater near Mukalla city.

Comments did not stop at this extent or level, as some critics also did comment on Mr. President's statement saying “Only those living in coastal areas or near the sea will drink from seawater while inhabitants of mountainous areas will be deprived of this service (drinking from seawater). Therefore, the state will bring them Zamzam water from Mekka as a compensation for not having easy access to the sea.”

Other criticism indicated that Mr. President was conscious of what he was saying, thereby calling on unity opponents to drink from seawater after distillation not before it. By this, he doesn't intend to slander any unity opponents. Mr. President intended to say that they have to wait until his government starts implementing a seawater distillation project, which is the only option before Yemen, mainly after studies revealed that groundwater in the country is bound to deplete soon. The expression implies that the opposition still needs a long time to reach power or see that Yemen is experiencing a peaceful transfer of power.

These comments are part of nationwide criticism following the heated address given by President Saleh in Hodeida, thus helping the address become more important than it was before, particularly as it came after months of Mr. President's disappearance from people's eyes. Commencing his address, Saleh behaved in a way as if it has antagonism and enmity with the opposition after news reports indicated that there is relative harmony between Mr. President and opposition leaders prior to his visits to Germany and Turkey.

These reports upset prominent leaders in the ruling General People Congress (GPC), who viewed such harmony or compromise as a trick planned against them. Anyway, drinking from seawater is not that bad. If man is down the sea, he may find no water in order to survive except for the water surrounding him, mainly when there are not friends to rescue him.

Yemeni people have so far experienced bloody events, such as January 13th Events of 1986 and 1994 Civil War in Aden, during which they drank from seawater and rivers after the conflicting parties damaged drinking water tanks.

A large number of Yemeni population is living on mountaintops where they can not be outreached by the government nor do they have good access to welfare and healthcare. They drink from stagnant and pool waters like their animals do, and their water is worse than seawater. A few months ago, I noticed that citizens of some Udein areas in Ibb governorate drink from a water pool where Bryozoans and parasites are massing in abundance until the pool's color has gone green.

At this point, I expect that all Yemeni people will collectively drink from seawater one day in the future, particularly as water shortage in the country continues worsening. The government then will have no option but to provide water through desalination. And, I don't know whether we will find seawater to distillate after years or the opponents will have exhausted all the water resources across the country.

Source: Al-Wahdawi Weekly.