Tribal killings in al-Jawf claim 37 When will tribal clashes end? [Archives:2005/804/Community]

January 6 2005

By Abduh M. Assabri
For the Yemen Times

Brick-built houses riddled with bullet holes, whirls of dusts are towering high, and rubbish smears the alleys and roadways of the city. Bearded but wrinkled faces are brown as berries, with dusty and curly hair come and go with their rifles upwards as a sign of manhood. This is the state of al-Jawf governorate.

A visitor to that far-flung area or its the outskirts, will be astonished at first glance to tribesmen representing different ages carrying weapons as if a battle was coming. Bit in reality, carrying arms has become their daily routine. Not only the grown-ups, but the younger ones are also carrying different sizes of weapons and ammunition, particularly, the Russian-made Kalashnikovs.

While visiting some of the outskirts in the al-Jawf governorate early in the morning, we were surprised when saw a group of students wearing their traditional clothes, jambiyya, (sword-like but short dagger) and dresses. Their books are placed behind the belt of jambiyya and their rifles are placed above their shoulders.

In a nearby popular market of the city, it is customary for the tribesmen there to use bullets as coinage for money exchange.

It is remiss of tribesmen to buy the bare essentials for their families. “If he has or gets a big mount of money, the only thing he desires is to possess adequate ammunitions to get ready for any bloody confrontations,” a tribesman said.

The only language they speak is the language of weapons and nothing else and that's why prolonged tribal disputes erupt from time to time.

The fierce tribal clashes that have been taking place recently in al-Jawf is between two tribes, the al-Saidah and al-Marazeeq.

The situation reached its climax with dozens from both tribes meeting in a barren desert to fight each other. No action has been taken to stop the bloodshed by the security men there. They have remained helpless.

Around 30 people were killed at the beginning of the battle and then the death toll rose to 37 when some of the injured tribesmen died in the hospital.

Names of those who died in tribal confrontations were jotted down when they were taken to the cemetery to be buried. It is by no means, a big catastrophe to see a very large number of funeral processions of innocent tribesmen carried in their coffins to be buried. They fall victims because of being under the Shiekhs' (influential tribesmen) thumbs. All tribesmen are under total control of their Shiekhs. “If a breakaway group declares its disloyalty, it is expelled” a tribesman said.

Influential tribes also possess a complete arsenal, both heavy and light weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, rockets-propelled grenades (RPGs), field artillery and all ground weaponry with the exception of tanks.

Tribes get these weapons from arms dealers and army warehouses to keep fighting each other.