Sheik Abdullah Ash-Shaif to the Yemen Times: Without Satisfactory Solutions, We Wont Allow Any Demarcation Company [Archives:2000/42/Interview]

October 16 2000

The tribal reactions against the Saudi- Yemeni border agreement continue. Those reactions were escalated by Dahm Al.Hamra one of the biggest Yemeni tribes led by Sheik Yahya Al-Shaif, living on both sides of the borderline. A gathering of the tribesmen said that the borders should be drawn according to agreements made long time ago with the neighboring tribes on the other side of the borders, otherwise no company will be allowed to do that.
Dahm Al.Hamra tribe is well known for its strength and its leading position among other tribes who expressed their readiness and willingness to stand by Dahm Al.Hamra. Sheikh Yahya Al.Shaif said that the reaction of his tribe was governed by wisdom and patience and that the tribe was waiting for the results of discussions being made with the Yemeni political leadership. He also reiterated his refusal to give up any part of the land by saying we do not oppose the border agreement but giving up any part of our land confirmed by tribal deeds is out of the question.
Jalal Al.Sharaabi, deputy managing editor of the Yemen Times interviewed Sheikh Yahya Al.Shaif of Dahm Al.Hamra.
Q: What are the reasons behind organizing of Dahm Al.Hamra tribal gathering before the declaration of the agreement?
A: The gathering came to confirm the rights of Yemen. We have the deeds that confirm our ownership of those lands designed to be annexed to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are not against the agreement but we want the rest to know that there are old tribal deeds showing borders among tribes of the region.
Q: General Ali Mohammed Salah, vice chief of staff was sent to meet you to discuss the situation after the shelling of your gathering with heavy weapons. What were the results of the that meeting?
A: It is true that General Ali Mohammed Salah was sent to us by President Ali Abdullah Saleh . He listened to our fair demands and we informed him that our gathering didnt mean to stand against the government but to demand our rights to the land. The purpose of our gathering was misunderstood and thought of as an act of sabotage, but General Ali Mohammed Salah expressed sincere understanding after he had been showed the deeds and documents that tell the story of our presence on the land. This situation was reported to the president who wrote a memo to the prime minister about this issue. When we realized that the government was showing a keen understanding, we withdrew our tribal gathering waiting for the problem to be solved.
Q: Did you set any conditions for the withdrawal of your gathering?
A: The condition is keeping our land, it always has been and always will be. The president, the vice president, the prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of legal affairs all expressed our legitimacy in the claim . Our tribal gathering is partially witheld, the rest are still on alert waiting for the starting signal.
Q: Do you have the intentions to call other tribes to your gathering apart from Dahm tribes which you lead?
A: Letters and invitations were prepared to be sent to all scholars of Yemen, all political and public organizations explaining our demands and informing them on the latest in this issue. Many letters and phone calls were received to express other tribes readiness to stand by us knowing that Dahm Al. Hamra tribes are capable of defending their rights and that is something known to all neighboring tribes and to the political leadership.
Q: What will your reaction be if those companies start working on border demarcation before you get some satisfactory solutions?
A: Everybody is on alert. This is something nobody can deny. Dahm tribes have expressed their refusal to demarcating borders before just and satisfactory solutions are reached. He added Dahm tribes will not stand idle if this happens even if this was against my will. Lets hope our demands do not get ignored.
Q: Did you inform the Saudi part about your claims and show them the deeds and written agreements youve had with neighboring Saudi tribes?
A: Yes. We had sent letters to his majesty king Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz before the announcement of the agreement. We also sent letters to the Saudi Yam tribe expressing the strong bonds that tie us together. He added we hope that they wouldnt allow anybody to damage our relations He continued we sent letters to Yam tribes inviting them to meet in a place called Maragha. We sent letters to the President and the Custodian of the two holy mosques urging them not to ignore our demands and the agreements weve had .
Q: Have your letters been replied to by the Saudis?
A: We havent received a reply yet, this is due to the absence of any direct contact with them, all our contacts are made through the Yemeni government.
Q: Do you still have any contacts with the Saudi Yam tribe with which youve had agreements specifying exactly the borders.
A: Yes, we have. But the problem is that they cannot express their opinions freely while here in Yemen, in a democratic set-up.
Q: Would you like to say anything else?
A: I would like to thank the Yemen Times for showing great concern about our issue.