Readers: A call to arms! [Archives:2004/718/Viewpoint]

March 8 2004

One of Yemen's active organizations has been calling for one million signatures to protest against the Israeli wall in the occupied territory. This is indeed a great step that needs to be appreciated. But I also suggest collecting one million signatures to combat the phenomenon of arms in Yemen.
This suggestion was inspired to me by a good friend of mine, who said that perhaps it would be great if we collected a million signatures in a petition to be presented to President Saleh urging him to issue the law to prohibit the carrying and trade of weapons in Yemen.
Perhaps the latest incident of the mosque massacre that killed five Yemenis last Friday is a reminder of the disastrous consequences of having arms flow freely throughout the country with no control or supervision.
We are now claiming the fruits of decades of neglect and carelessness to the issue of arms carrying and trade. There are some areas in Yemen where law cannot be enforced due to large numbers of armed villagers or tribesmen who can easily take things into their own hands and forget about the authorities.
Arms in the hands of millions of tribesmen and regular Yemenis can be a greater threat in the near future, which is expected to witness massive anger because of expected painful economic reforms in the form of lifting subsidies for gasoline and diesel.
This could cause retaliation and who knows what angry Yemenis could do with their arms in extreme cases?
We have been told that the person who shot at the men while praying in the mosque is psychologically ill. This is even worse! That means that the government cannot know who will become psycho and blow himself anywhere in the country. Had the attack been motivated by criminal intentions, such criminals could have been traced and punished.
What we have here is a scenario that should have been expected by the successive governments, which turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the continuous steady grow in the number of weapons throughout the country for many decades.
Today is the time that we can start applying strong and comprehensive measures to end the wide trade and use of weapons once and for all.
I am sure President Saleh realizes the dangers of ignoring this phenomenon and practicing our daily lives 'as usual.
He must be realizing that arms are causing instability in many areas in the country, which is also damaging to the country's reputation and security, making investments in tourism, trade, industry, and other fields more difficult.
I have hopes in that the regime will take this issue seriously and reconsider the laws that are still not strict enough to stop arms trade from continuing.
In an effort to convince President Saleh and his government, I hereby call upon all who support this idea to send their support letters to the editor to come out with a strong feeling that we can practically make this idea a reality.