Who is to be blamed, state or sheikhs? [Archives:2002/35/Focus]

August 26 2002

We have heard and perhaps seen, that the state has indulgent with Sheikhs and prominent tribesmen. They have been highly respected and appreciated and given priority in everything, and this perhaps reminds us of the feudal system in the Middle Ages where such class of people was highly entrusted with everything in the state.
This can be explained from two standpoints:
First the state might have used its double-dealing policy as a way to silence tribes not to cause any troubles and political disturbance. The state has suffered a lot as a result of kidnapping incidents and tribal clashes. Despite of the exerted efforts to display Yemen’s image in its true reality, Yemen has been doing its best to cope with such modern changes.
The second aspect, which is of less significance on the part of the state, has aimed to correct them for a better-civilized community away from fanatic conduct. This has been done also to pacify and put an end to long-term tribal disputes.
These tribes are first given free hand to behave and do whatever they desire. Then it has culminated in kidnapping operations and tribal clashes, which have become the main headache for the government.
Sheikhs have been appointed and given special ranks and at length they turned to be the opponent of the state and the state then turned against them. We don’t know what kind of policy does the state follow.
The inefficiency of these security forces has led the victim’s family to take the law into their hand. They keep tracing murderers or any one of their tribe to take their revenge on them.
Violating law
The crux of the problem in Yemen does not lie in the absence of new laws that cope with the new challenges and changes. On the contrary, legal legislation is there but they being ignored and sometimes violated for many reasons, chief among which are people’s ignorance of the importance of such laws as well as their ignorance of their civil rights. In addition, those laws are often broken by influential and high-ranking people with strong tribal backgrounds. Those people take advantage of the government’s carelessness in enforcing and protecting laws.
There are other issues which have played havoc with tourism industry such as highway robberies and kidnapping incidents. Though those incidents have become less to appear owing to spread of special courts to look into such matters, laws remain unobserved in many cases. It is because the influence of tribes that the law prohibiting carrying of arms was a failure due to fears of reactions. Such wrong calculations have weakened the government’s sovereignty. For this reason, Yemen has been placed at the bottom of countries benefiting from tourism despite the many tourist potentials it enjoys. Economic investment has also been damaged for the same reason.
It is only the government that possesses the solution if it enforces laws disregarding people’s positions or rankings.
Then, the state is responsible for giving such a chance to some people. It helps them to break the law and to turn deaf ears on rules. If we ponder over the masters of violation in our society, we will find that they are those people who represent the state!
Sheikhs and military commanders, who are supposed to fight corruption and disorder, are found with hundreds of bodyguards fully armed with all kinds of weapons, however, the government regulates carrying and possessing of weapons and bodyguards.
Some commanders in the armed forces forged licenses for their relatives and friends to carry weapons and to be treated as officials. Some officials in the state give military and police car numbers as gifts to others illegally. Most of the expensive cars, which are owned by top officials, have forged numbers. The sons of some high ranking officials in the military and defense forces have tens of bodyguards with weapons while they are still mere students at school, they practice their fathers’ power as if it were their own by heredity.
The state must ask itself who gives these people these privileges and who gives them the right to abuse power and to break the law and order and why?
Surely, it will find that the state’s senior officials are the center of corruption. When we blame Sheikhs and their sons for some misdoing, we should take into consideration those officials, the owners of power. The law should apply to all people; we should be realistic and wise in our behavior against others. Security men should practice their duty over all people not only Sheikhs or the sake of law and order. They have to practice their duty not to invoke others.