The realities of war [Archives:2008/1167/Opinion]

June 26 2008

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
“I just do not understand, why this war in Sa'ada and now a couple of other governorates can't seem to find an end to itself”, said Muflih, as he picked up his Mountain Dew can from the grocery store counter.

His brother Ali was ready with an answer that somehow was meant to puzzle Muflih more than to present an answer to his brother's genuine query: “Wars can never find their own ends; it is people who must reach the end of wars. For all they care, wars wouldn't mind it if they last for hundreds of years, as long as these sons of Adam relish at the sight of the blood of their own kin. In fact wars think they are an end in themselves, as they are the terminal point of reason, logic and sheer human compassion.”

Muflih worked his fingers a bit trying to open his Mountain Dew can, as he had apparently pulled the self opening tab too hard removing the ring that the finger is entered into to pull the opener and then said: “That is technology for you, now how can I open this can without the ring?” as he fiddled the loose ring trying to make some value of it now that it has been made useless for the purpose for which it was intended, continuing “you can't find a can opener now anywhere in the City of Sana'a, thanks to all these self opening paraphernalia that has overtaken the canned and bottled drink industry”.

Ali felt that even wars can have their lighter side: “Well, at least you can thank wars for having no need for can and bottle openers anymore. Even corked bottles can now be opened without a cork screw opener and it is all because of those geniuses who make all the war gadgetry we see being lobbed between two confronting forces on TV now almost daily”.

Muflih now breathing a sigh of relief after having found a way to open the drink with a small knife he kept with his keys among other things said: “Brother, you always seem to make a lengthy discourse out of simple questions that just happen to dance at the tip of my tongue from time to time. What are you trying to get at?”

“You see when you want to detonate a grenade, don't you have to pull out a lever or unscrew something before throwing it at the enemy” said Ali.

Muflih said: “How would I know? I never threw a grenade at anybody and I hope I never see one, let alone throw one”.

“Now, you are not thinking like a real bona fide fighting Yemeni. Why to Yemenis, war is their national pastime. Just read a little bit of the history of Yemen. It has been just an ongoing series of wars and skirmishes, some of them localized, while others saw armies moving from one side of the country to the next in blitzkrieg fashion. Some wars had foreigners embroiled in bloody engagements as punishment meted out by some rulers to their military brass for not fighting well on the other fronts to which their rulers had sent them. Some wars had foreigners who were misled by their naivete in thinking that Yemen was an easy playground for their generals to play war games in, only to find out with much disdain at the stupidity of their strategists and the military tacticians who goaded them to okay turning the war game button on. Whatever the case may be, the Yemenis were ready willing and simply proud to turn their country into a sustainable open grave for anyone who dares challenge their mastery over those rocks” said Ali contemptuously as he pointed at the majestic towering summit of Jabal (Mount) Nuqum, overlooking the City of Sana'a from the East.

“Yeah, but where does the War in Sa'ada and now elsewhere fit in what you say?” asked Muflih.

“Then there are those wars that our local war lords and war merchants foster to further their own selfish narrow interests. These wars are the tragedy of the fighting spirit of Yemen. Whenever there is hope that Yemen just might enter into a period of stability and prosperity, these war goons as I call them all of a sudden join forces to convince the authorities that the Yemenis are getting bored for not having a war to fight in, either here or elsewhere. Moreover, it is really time to make use of our stashed weapons before they rust or get eaten by the rats like they ate the Mareb Dam!”

Muflih now got entangled in his brother's crazy logic: “In addition, we have neighbors, who are drowned in wealth and have a hobby for fostering conflict wherever their money can find solid grounds for getting people to lob grenades and other ordnances at each other, or just kill for the hell of it. Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan are all fertile grounds for these war games of the rich. They really believe that this will encourage the producers of the weapons used in all these wars to not bother them while they continue to indulge in an extravagance of blood, which the unholy 'Jihadist' culture they have nurtured have spread throughout the world. Yemen is just a small piece of this jigsaw puzzle that has spread throughout the world”.

Ali expanded on his brother's rationalization: “Maybe that is why the Red Cross has turned a blind eye to the unfortunate tragic suffering of the innocent civilians of Sa'ada. This includes ignoring the obliterated sculls of the yet unable to stand up infants who haven't the faintest idea why they should pay the price for the follies of the grown men that lead their country. An even more tragic picture is that even though the RC and the whole world has seen genuine photographed proof of the tragic outcome of war on the helpless civilians in Sa'ada, not one voice of substance has been heard to call for an end to this madness unfolding in the distant and blockaded to the outside world region of Sa'ada. One can recall a time when the Red Cross had a field hospital in a previous war in the very same war-torn region that is witnessing the tragic consequences of irresponsible leadership today. Indeed, that was a commendable task then. Now, the ICRC seems to find itself a prisoner of a 'Red Crescent' society that obviously sees eye to eye with one of the antagonists in this regrettably meaningless prohibitive conflict.”

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.