Tribal sheikhs of Yemen revolt [Archives:2007/1083/Local News]

September 6 2007

Powerful sheikhs of Yemen have come together in order to play a significant role in the future of Yemen. They formed the National Solidarity Council and every now and then come up with a public statement to make sure they are heard and remembered when the time is right. This time, they revolt against corruption, or so they say.

SANA'A, Sept 4 ) Chairman of the National Solidarity Council, Sheikh Hussein Bin Abdullah Bin Hussein, who is also the member of the Parliament, and who is also the son of the strongest tribal figure in Yemen, AND who is also of the same tribe as the president, stated that “The council is a revolution against corruption. The council is established with the aim of addressing citizens' concerns in different areas, cooperating for the sake of suggesting suitable solutions to any problems and educating citizens about their rights and duties, and how to defend their rights in conformity with the Constitution and laws placed in effect.”

The council has already gained members from outside the tribal community. Politicians, academics, activists, and even those who belong to the ruling party have taken sides with the solidarity council. The council is also winning the hearts of journalists as it declared its solidarity with journalists, who are usually subjected to harassments, claiming the government to respect press freedom, give the chance to pressmen to do their national job, specifically as they are members of the fourth authority and protect them from arbitrary practices and right abuses. Despite the fact, those journalists in the past had been the subjects of harassment by some tribal sheikhs who could not accept “criticism”, but none of these incidents have taken place in the second half of this year, yet.

In its first meeting on Monday, the council urged the government to respect people and suggest the possible solutions to their sufferings due to price hikes and poverty. It also insisted on the government to expedite application of the wage law and care for ensuring all the legal rights of military and civil servants to help them improve their living.

Worth noting is that the government is trying to achieve weapon-free cities, where weapons are heavily carried especially by tribal men and their numerous bodyguards. But this law was not mentioned as a priority in the council's meeting.

Regarding investment, NSC confirmed that the security and judicial infringements are the primary reason behind the absence of investment and investors in the country, demanding the concerned authorities to provide a good climate for investment. It harshly criticized public job exploitation for personal gains. Many of these sheikhs are also the biggest investors in the country.

The body called for paying closer attention to women's issues and empowering their effective presence in different spheres including politics. However, not a single female is a member of the more than thousand member council.

“The council is not against the state, as the state is for everyone. People will support the state when they see it doing right,” Al-Ahmar said, “We are not partial toward to a particular group, and the council was established for the sake of the nation. We are always ready for cooperating with the state to reform infringements.”

According to its plan, the council will count all the social, administrative and living issues, which citizens suffer in each governorate, and in light of the reached findings, the NSC General Secretariat will set a draft plan to suggest possible solutions to these issues in cooperation with political and social forces, and civil community organizations.

In addition, NSC plans to conduct a comprehensive study on the tribal situation in Yemen, which is expected to develop any positive tribal traditions and habits and get rid of the negative ones. It recommends the concerned authorities to make use of the tribal traditions in serving the local development, strengthening contacts between tribesmen in different areas, enhancing cooperation and boosting the public interest.