When Facing the Moment of Truth: Problems Can Never Solve Themselves [Archives:2000/10/Viewpoint]

March 6 2000

The last kidnapping incident of the Polish Ambassador that happened last Wednesday signals a dangerous development. It is the first time in the history of History of Yemen that a diplomat in the rank of ambassador is kidnapped. This gives the impression that action is required. Enough talk, more work is required. This has shocked a lot of politicians and security officers who have been drifting in their illusions that everything is OK, and there is nothing left to do.
The incident confirmed that Yemen is indeed facing a moment of truth that requires bringing law and order to a country that has been lacking them for so long. However, it is easy to see that today, law and order are as difficult to achieve as ever. What made the country reach such a level of lawlessness? Why have kidnappers begun to take serious key figures hostages? Why has “law and order” become a rare commodity that is not secured for everyone? Who is responsible for this? To where is the country heading?
These are some of the questions that rise as a direct result of such incidents like kidnapping, armed conflicts, explosions, and other extreme events in the country. Why can’t security be guaranteed to the locals and foreigners? Why is the government unable to confidently say that there will be no more kidnappings?
I said it once in a previous editorial about the same issue (Kidnapping), and I want to say it again: “The solution must not be temporary. It must be a solid, concrete, and lasting solution.” With misery and disappointment, I can say that the government has not been able to provide lasting and efficient solutions or even proposals for this chronic problem. It is partially the government’s fault, and partially the fault of years of neglect of the rising phenomena of arms carrying and arms trade. It is an issue that developed in time through the years. Long before unity, tribes and even normal citizens have become accustomed to buying and using weapons of all sorts.
The government did wake up; but too late, as the average rate of arms today is 3 for every Yemeni, which means that getting rid of them without a civil war is almost as difficult as getting rid of qat.
Part of the solution is to improve the economy, as I always say, by getting rid of the corrupt figures that have been eating away the country’s resources for so long. Today, the country cannot stand more corruption, simply because its economy has become extremely weak.
The commitment has been shown by the president to punish the kidnappers, and the ones who cause instability in the country.
However, does the president really see the true danger? Does he feel that the country is slowly heading to a disaster if the insecurity conditions caused by mismanagement and corruption continue?
I hope and believe the answer is “Yes”. But that is not enough. He also needs to fight the mismanagement and corruption starting from the ones close to him to the government clerk who asks for bribes every now and then. He should begin realizing the dangers that such crooked figures can cause in the long run. The country’s resources are drying up. We are running out of money, we are running out of honesty, we are running out of ideas, but are we running out of future? I hope not.
To have the hope renewed, we need our leadership to think wisely about the future and about Yemen of tomorrow. We should not keep the illusion that things would get better on their own, but we should rather think about saving our country from the worst expected to come. As Yemenis, from the president down to the normal citizen, we should realize that today we are in a critical period in which we should decide the path to choose: the path towards transparency, modernization, development, security, and efficiency, or the path towards more ignorance, corruption, deficiency, and backwardness. Choosing the right path is not enough, but we should also work on getting there, and working on getting there requires a lot of hard work, honesty, and strong will.
Will we be able to face the moment of truth courageously without falling into the same old illusion that problems would solve themselves? I hope so..
Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf           
Chief Editor