Tribal Blood Feuds On the Rise [Archives:2001/44/Reportage]

October 22 2001

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Yemen Times
A person was shot dead last Saturday in front of a hotel on Taiz Street in the capital Sana’a. Apparently the reason behind the killing is a tribal blood feud. The security forces have thus far failed to track down the culprits. In addition, armed groups exchanged fire at 22 May Street, killing a number of people and injuring several others. News reports mentioned that the reasons behind these clashes are tribal revenge between al-Awaleq tribes. The Revenge Committee set up by the Shora Council, held a meeting to discuss some issues pertaining to tribal revenges which mostly occurred in the capital Sana’a. Yet, the committee has failed to develop practical solutions that can actually be enforced.
Tribal revenges have significantly increased within the last couple of months in the capital Sana’a and some other cities nationwide, making it necessary for some tribesmen to carry arms in order to protect themselves from an assault, while some others have to leave cities in their tribal areas. Actually, tribal feuds are not a new phenomenon in Yemen, but rather the result of the many conflicts and wars that Yemen has undergone and is still undergoing. Tribes which have a great deal of military hardware tend to use these weapons in their wars, which mostly arise from disputes over land or tribal boundary conflicts.
Many sheikhs and social dignitaries believe that what is happening today is significantly different from how it was in the past, as most of the conflicts nowadays are inconsistent even with the tribal norms which govern and regulate the tribal social affairs related to revenge, particularly the ones that prohibit perpetrating the acts of killing in markets and in cities. Some other people believe that tribal feuds are the direct result of the weak security situation prevalent at the country, adding that this situation has made it difficult for the tribal community to meet the requirements of democratization, since it is preoccupied with it own problems. While some other people call on the security authorities to consider any tribal revenge in cities a crime, and thus the perpetrators should be punished by the authorities on this basis. Unfortunately, in most cases the security organs avoid any involvement in any issue pertaining to a tribal feud for fear of encountering the tribesmen. The Revenge Committee of the Shora Council has failed to reach general conciliation treaties between the different warring tribes in Yemen.
What is more catastrophic is that tribal revenge has become a nightmare for the young tribesmen who study in Sana’a, as a medical student was gunned down in front of the Faculty of Medicine and another in front of the Military College. This has forced many tribesmen to discontinue their university studies, so as not to be victims of revenge. Ultimately, the Yemeni media is trying to tackle this issue through producing TV series on revenge problems in Yemen, although this issue require a massive mobilization of efforts of the different government bodies with the aim of putting an end to this serious problem.