SILVER LININGFostering public frustration [Archives:2007/1102/Opinion]

November 12 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Following months of protest and unrest stirred up by the military and civil pensioners in the southern governorates, President Ali Abdullah Saleh jumped to Aden after spending the first two days of the Eid al-Fiter vacation in Taiz. He has been in the city for over three weeks now, trying to soften the boiling situation and frustration of the public. It is good the man comes to Aden and makes a tour around the southern governorates to get a closer approach to the sufferings of the people. It is not only the problem of the pensioners that needs a real and quick address, but also that of the people across the country. I understand the plight of the pensioners in the South is greater. However, all the people in the North feel the same frustration and suffering. They all miss the rule of the law and justice.

Unfortunately, the government does not deal with the problems of the people with the same scale. Once the people are strong and well armed, the government is attentive to them. When the pensioners started on a small number voicing their problem through the newspapers, they were neglected and even painted as secessionists. However, when their plight matched with that of the public providing a ground for massive and constant protests, the government acknowledged there was a problem and started to act unsteadily. Of course, the government response to the pensioners' problems is still meager. I want to strike an example that the government wakes up just to situations where it feels the other party is strong enough and when a problem gets greater. Again, when police officers killed an outstanding Sheikh from Mikhlaf in Taiz and his people moved vigorously to even control the city and take revenge from the central security to which the predators belong, the government responded abruptly, presenting the killers to an emergency court. Nevertheless, when a criminal investigation officer and his armed tribesmen coming from Thamar governorate killed Salah al-Rawee whose name shows lack of any tribal backup in jail, the governmnet response is frustrating. As Salah is let down by all including MPs, Sheikhs and even the opposition political parties in Ibb governorate, predators are still at large. As the man has no armed men to pound the city and demand immediate arrest and trial of his predators, the president and his government do not care to take an action.

I guess there is no difference between the two killed persons and others to be killed in such a way; they are all Yemenis and their lives should equally matter to the people in charge. However, the double standard policy the government assumes in dealing with its citizens is causing frustration to majority of the people. This sort of response to problems here and there encourages the influential tribal figures to take the law into their hands. They feel that the more they show disrespect to the rule of law and vigor to act violently, the more positive the government response would be. Such a situation makes it difficult to argue for the rule of law and convince the public of its worth. It rather fosters public frustration. This is unfortunate as it increases the predominance of lawlessness and chaos.

Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist