We Just Can’t Go On Like This! [Archives:2001/24/Viewpoint]

June 11 2001

The various incidents that have occurred during the last two months, including the Baidha explosion, the kidnapping of Carl, the oil pipeline piercing, the armed confrontation in Al-Dairi in the middle of Sanaa City, and the many other violence incidents all point at the need for swift action. We need to act, and we need to act now.
Hasn’t the instability in Yemen caused enough suffering for the economy in all its sectors, leading to more suffering for the people? I would be amazed if the authorities still have doubt and wait to see what is next. Why wait? Why brace for more violence and misery?
This is the time that the President of the Republic must take brave decisions. The US embassy has closed its doors because of terrorist threats. Due to travel, the travel warnings coming from all over the world, the tourism industry is suffering and, the image of Yemen is being shattered. If we don’t act know, when on earth shall we ever take action?
There are times in life when the situation reaches a critical point, which indicates the need for immediate change. Is the President willing to bring about this change?
I remember once the President was asked, “Yemen is a country where there are more than 60 million pieces of weapons. Don’t you intend to decrease this number or disarm Yemenis.” The President replied, “I do not attempt to decrease the number of weapons or disarm Yemenis, all I wish to do is to regulate the use of weapons.”
However, frankly speaking, taking advantage of the freedom of expression that is given to us, let me tell you this Mr. President: If you believe you can regulate the use of 60 million pieces of weapons by just over 17 million Yemenis, then in my opinion, you must be mistaken. This mission is impossible, especially under the current circumstances of lawlessness and economic miseries. Those weapons were certainly not meant to stay as decor in the homes of millions of Yemenis who possess them. Those weapons are meant to be used either for self-defense or for confrontations, especially these days when there is little stability and so much to worry about in terms of security.
The president must take the brave decision of making a long-term plan to reduce, yes, reduce, and regulate the use of weapons, not regulate only. We don’t need to have this much weaponry in our small country. We are peaceful people, and we remember the time Yemen was called, “Arabian Felix.” I don’t think that weapons are a source of pride any more. They are, they were, and they will always stay as ugly instruments used for destruction. No matter what we try to say things like ‘weapons are just a peaceful symbol of tribal values and traditions’, we realize that they are the source of our instability and insecurity.
In conclusion, there will always be a threat to our security and economy if the average of weapons per person exceed 3 pieces. There simply cannot be an excuse for having so much weaponry in such a small country.
With 60 million pieces, Yemen is ranked the first in the Arab world in number of weapons. Guess how many weapons are in the second ranking country in the Arab world, just over half a million.
If this doesn’t help the authorities wake up and understand why those incidents are occurring, then I guess nothing else will have them wake up, nothing at all