We kept our rights [Archives:2002/51/Viewpoint]

December 16 2002

Some Yemenis believe that by allowing the North Korean vessel So San to unload the 15 Scud missiles to Yemen, the US is only making a maneuver to show the world that it respects international law. Others feel that it is a good gesture towards Yemen because of the latters support to the US-led war against so-called international terrorism.
But nevertheless, this act of the US did not help enhance the image of the US in the streets of Yemeni.
We still believe the US is making itself the bully of the world. said one of the Yemenis who was watching the news of the US decision to let the vessel go.
As much as the strong reaction of the Yemeni government followed the seizure of the ship impressed me, the pledge that it will be the last of its kind with North Korea upset me as well. I was disappointed with the tone of the Yemeni government in pledging that it was a very old deal and that Yemen will not do it again, as if we are admitting that it was a grave mistake that we wont be repeating it.
After all, the reasons behind the purchase are economic. Yemen doesnt have the wealth or financial might to purchase more expensive weapons from other countries.
The deal was very attractive, so that Yemen decided to go for it without thinking of the possible long-term consequences, a military expert told me the other day.
The problem is that we are trying to please the superpowers of the world while trying to strike deals that help us afford to maintain our army.
We already have rusting rockets and military equipment that need millions of dollars in order to restore. Who will compensate Yemen if it is prevented from rehabilitating those weapons? Who will pay us to buy other expensive weapons from modern countries?
I dont think the US will do it.
Whether we have made the right decision concerning this weapons deal with North Korea or not, we have shown the world that Yemen is strong enough to at least prevent other countries, no matter how powerful, from taking away our rights.
This is a positive step and move by Yemen in its recent history, while the real motives behind the US move to let the vessel move will remain a puzzle for some time to come.