The Security Situation: Really Getting out of Hand [Archives:2001/29/Focus]

July 16 2001

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
It goes without saying that the primary role of Government is to provide protection to its citizens as fairly and inexpensively as possible. This includes the Government of the Republic of Yemen, which has decided to make itself as ineffective as it possibly could be in just about every excusable and inexcusable area.
What seems now so very clear is that the people of this country are now denied the essential right of the right to life, as the marauding bands of tribesmen roam the cities seeking their enemies in endless blood feuds that have accumulated over the years, for the simple reason that justice is not meted out properly as crimes of murder are carried out for reasons ranging from differences over marriages to land disputes to differences over the color of one’s beard. Whatever the case, the obvious situation now is that the city of Sana’a, once considered a demilitarized zone, or “Hijra”, where tribesmen are forbidden from moving their battles to, has now turned into the battleground for tribesmen to iron out their relentless blood feuds and take with it whatever innocent lives necessary just so the “honor” of the vengeful murderer can be proclaimed far and wide throughout the land, as if anybody really cared!
Just last week alone, at least seven people lost their lives in the suburb of Rawdha alone in the kind of battles that make “How the West Was Won” seem like a Hanzel and Gretel tale. Seven people in one week in an area that was considered a quite summer resort amidst its plush vineyards and flowing brooks and streams that flowed all along its narrow alleyways and streets marked by twisting mud brick walls. At least two innocent people were killed or wounded, who had nothing to do with the feuding adversaries, but fate has ordained that they fall as innocent victims of the Law of the Jungle, which our noble tribal sheikhs have failed to apply and enforce in a manner intended by the tribal chiefs of the past. On the contrary, our tribal chiefs have been spoiled by the generous Government budget allocations they are provided, supposedly to ensure the peace and stability of their domains, or find it lucrative to keep these endless tribal feuds going so they can also squeeze their constituencies of whatever leftover money they have after having spent all their funds waging their relentless war with their enemies to settle matters of blood or “honor” or land. Whatever the case, our honorable chiefs have become enmeshed in the accumulation of money anyway they can, even though some of them have amassed fortunes that make the Imams of the past seem like beggars next to these Sheikhs. They are the least concerned about the people of Sana’a enjoying any peace or safety from their marauding constituencies that are now chasing each other in the streets of Sana’a until they catch them unprepared, say in front of the Governorate Center in Rawdha and the Security Office, where they mow them down not caring about the fate of nearby unarmed citizens, who may not have anything to do with the feud. Even children now come home, after attending Summer Mosque Schools relating horrible tales of innocent people falling to the ground shaking and rattling as they struggle to hold on to life after being hit by crossfire from feuding bands. Yes, this happened in fact and in live color right between the Governorate Capital of Sana’a and the Security offices for the District of Bani Al-Harith and the Governorate of Sana’a and near the Military College and in the middle of three military bases within the proximity of one to two kilometers, including the elite Republican Guards and God knows whatever military establishments are set up on the hills that surround this little peaceful village, supposedly to protect the citizens, after having taken their land for these facilities without any compensation!. This is not to mention, the exorbitant allocations appropriated for defense and security.
As if that was not enough just a few days later some other feuding bands meet at the Airport Road, of all places, and exchange wobbles of bullets and light artillery to lay down four of their own and at least two innocent people on their way home, who have nothing to do with it. One of them is now lying in intensive care at the hospital after having lost his testicles in the wild exchange of gunfire he had nothing to do with, in the first place. I am sure these scenes are now commonplace throughout the capital city as marauding tribesmen take the law into their hands after their Government, with all its military and security apparatus and sophisticated “special” forces, and their prosperous tribal sheikhs have failed to insure the peace and tranquility of the land they purport to maintain at exorbitant cost and resources with not even the minimum returns expected of at least keeping the innocent protected from such wild lawlessness. If you add to all this law of the jungle crimes, that are now being perpetrated left and right in the country, all the crimes of armed robbery and other social crimes that come with a dead economy, then it is easy to see that we have a very dangerous security situation that calls for serious Government action, starting by making all the huge security and military apparatus more effective in carrying out the mandates, under which they were set up, to protect the citizens from the internal enemies that are roaming the land armed to the teeth making a mockery of all these forces that seem to be shifted for other purposes than their original mandates, and to send the Sheikhs back home to bring order and adherence to law by their constituencies or else save the wasted public funds, in the treasury for more useful purposes.
As for our security apparatus in all their manifestations, we are even unsure as to how we can have access to their services. On more than one occasion, this observer has heard of people calling their local police precinct and the Criminal Investigations Department to report a crime or to report that they have apprehended a thief (in one case who happened to be an officer in the latter), only to be told that the person making the report should bring the apprehended criminal himself to the respective office in the official working hours, on the following day!
This is a mockery of Government that surely cannot be overlooked and neither serves the interests of the public or those who claim to be working night and day for the welfare of the public, when in fact the only apparent service we see is their pockets getting flooded with dough and their bellies bloated with fat.