SILVER LININGRunning into confusion [Archives:2007/1086/Opinion]

September 17 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The ongoing protests and the repression they have been faced with and flare of the situation, mainly in the southern governorates are worrying and sending shock waves down the spine of everybody; it is as if we are going into war.

This is clear in the crazy price hike of foodstuffs, mainly flour and wheat. If you pass by the state-owned Economic Corporation offices, you would see long lines of ordinary citizens waiting for their turn to snatch a package of wheat or flour for YR 3700, while its price in the market is ranging between YR 4700 – 6000 and can mount to YR 7000 in villages and remote areas. What the government is doing by supporting the economic corporation is futile and meaningless; it will not help address the suffering of the people and lessen their awe; because not everybody is able to queue for long hours waiting for a package of wheat or flour.

The government has acknowledged the problem of the military and civilian retirees in the south. Their talk about prices and the civil war consequences, which only three months ago were a taboo. However, the way the political regime is trying to deal with these problems shows lack of good vision or committed will.

This is clear in the random decisions such as return hundreds of these retirees to service. Yet, the use of force in confronting such protests of the retirees or other hungry protestors, and the discourse that such protests are just bubbles stirred up by secessionists with foreign agenda, indicate the people in charge are running into confusion. This is also clear in the decision to re-activate the compulsory military service abolished some years ago. I wonder how the government will provide the budget for this project that, for sure, has been thought of at random.

It is hunger, feeling of repression and unequal citizenship that instigate and stir up anger across the country. It is not separation sentiments that push the people to take to the streets to denounce government policies and demand swift solutions to their pains, exacerbating since the 1994 civil war.

Now, the report of the fact-finding committee on the problems of the retirees and land property is pregnant with horrible conclusions on the consequences of the civil war on the people of the south, including the retirees.

The report also shows how the southern governorates were dealt with as “spoils of war”” wherein influential people were granted hundreds of chunks of land as gifts