ReflectionsSaudi Arabia needs a different wall [Archives:2004/717/Opinion]

March 4 2004

By Yahya Al-Olfi
[email protected]

The recent news about the Saudi wish to build a wall made me recall having read an account by a British desert traveler when the Al-Saud Dynasty was still in the making.
In the Englishman's account one senses the extent of danger Yemen posed back then. In fact he recounted how the Yemenite tribe of Qahtan which extends from Albayda in the South to the outreaches of Mecca and Najd expelled the Al-Saud Dynasty and imposed control over Najd for five years, after which the coalition of Northern Arabian Tribes such as Mutair, Anaiza tc defeated Qahtan in a blitzkrieg and made it recoil to its base in Asir.
Hence comes the Saudi endemic desire to keep Yemen always in check. The Saudis so far have been so clever in spreading their control on most of the Arabian Peninsula. In Yemen's case they have gotten what they want. Now, it remains for them to pull out their influence and deal face to face with the rulers in Sana'a i.e. stop definitively financial support to chieftains, clan chiefs and effective players in Yemen.
The Saudi government need not put a wall on its borders with Yemen but needs a responsible state where law and order is prevalent, they need a strong central government in Yemen, ironically, opposite to what they always wanted.
And this can only succeed by urging the leadership in Sana'a to seriously and earnestly curb corruption, establish a fair judicial system and stop being lax on many issues. If the rulers in Sana'a do not succeed in improving law, order and their responsibility in the border, Saudi Arabia can open the door for the naturalization of Yemeni families and tribes. (After all the Arabian peninsula people were once upon a time Yemenites and ethnically are so regardless of being Adnanites or Qahtanites ).
Lawrence of Arabia a British Intelligence Officer (in his book “The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom”), who worked for Sharif Hussein in Hijaz (the forefather of the late King Hussein of Jordan) describes the movement of tribes in the Arabian peninsula prior to the advent of oil as follows:
“Arab Tribes live densely on the mountainous part of the Arabian Peninsula and due to the limitation of space tribal wars used to break out and hence the weaker tribes had to leave the mountainous areas where there is ample water and grazing to roam into the desert and become Bedouins, wandering here and there for years till they reach Mesopotamia or the Fertile Crescent (Iraq or Syria).”
A good case in point is what has become of Yam tribe that hails originally from the mount of Yam in Arhab, Yemen. Then they moved north to Najran and now are in UAE called as Hajiri and in Kuwait as Ajman. I mean by this brief glimpse of history to make Saudis understand that naturalizing more Yemenis shall enrich the Kingdom and make it stronger, better than their blown up unrealistic statistical figures, with which they can have the upper hand with regard to issues such as border control.
Being proud because of having oil moneys is pathetic. Real and serious measures should be considered including the democratization of life in Saudi Arabia, the introduction of sustainable projects and a viable education system.
I am sure that the Saudis can succeed in that and if so is accomplished, shall render Saudi Arabia more peaceful, secure and prosperous. The Royal Family needs to update itself and cease being schizophrenic so as to quench the growing thirst for more freedoms and I am sure too that they are in no danger.