Tribesmen are fed up too [Archives:2003/663/Viewpoint]

August 28 2003

“Do you think we carry arms just because we like to? We only do so because we know that the state is helpless and cannot protect us.” said one of the tribesmen in Mareb, told me the other day during the campaign of the active NGO, the Social Organization of House of Peace (SOHP), which aimed at raising awareness among villagers and tribesmen about the hazards of carrying and using weapons.
The campaign was received warmly by all sectors of the community. The tribesmen who met the NGO's campaigners have openly expressed delight and happiness for having such an initiative that would try to give a glimpse about the dangers of using and carrying of weapons, especially when used in tribal revenge and fighting.
The interesting conclusion that came out of the campaign is the eagerness of tribesmen to rid themselves from weapons and their efforts to explain that they are not fond of carrying and using weapons just because they are 'cool' or because they resemble manhood. There is a reason for that, and that reason is somewhat quite convincing.
If the state cannot protect a person from robbery, assault, murder, or any other crime, then those tribes need to use their weapons. Similarly, when not every tribe is disarmed equally, then some tribes will definitely refuse to be disarmed fearing that the rest would be more superior, leading to possible oppression against them.
But nowadays tribesmen want change. You can see it in their eyes. Many want to live in a civilized country where children go to school, study and enroll in universities. They want to live a life without fear of being attacked, and with no risk of having tribal vengeance and violence.
They have come to see that the world is passing them by and they got nothing. Their economic conditions have gone from bad to worse. There are barely any sources of income except for income from selling qat or other small-scale trade. Expenses have become enormous, especially when taking into account the fact that there is a high population growth leading to a large number of children per family.
Furthermore, salaries paid to tribesmen who are enrolled in the army are simply not enough any more. In fact, the government is in a stage that demonstrates inability to cover the extra expenses of the huge Yemeni army, which is composed of tribesmen as well.
All in all, tribesmen, as well as all citizens, are fed up of arms. They want to have a new start towards a better life full of prosperity. But this cannot be achieved unless the government comes into the picture by providing security and peace to tribal areas. The government should come strong in proving that it can and will protect the vulnerable and the unarmed and serve justice for all. If tribesmen will be disarmed, then all tribes, including those close to the presidency, need to be disarmed fully.
Tribesmen just want to ensure that they will live in peace once they give up their arms and want to ensure that everyone else would be disarmed as well. Unless the government gives guarantees in this respect, tribesmen will continue to carry their arms and the tribal fighting, vengeance, conflict, and insecurity will continue.
It is such an easy-to-apply formula, but there needs to be enough guts, courage, and willingness to do it.