Will We Ever Start? [Archives:2001/49/Viewpoint]

December 3 2001

The sincere and frank position of President Saleh in openly saying that the latest kidnapping incident of a German citizen in Sanaa has embarrassed him along with all Yemenis, was a brave stand for which he should be respected.
It is only logical and normal for such a reaction to be taken by Yemen’s Head of State after the second time a German has been kidnapped in Yemen while Germany is hosting him. It is an embarrassment for all of us, as President, government, and people to have such a shameful act happen, and for the second time!
The President wanted to send a strong message to the kidnappers of the last two Germans kidnapped this year. Reports reveal that the kidnappers of the two Germans actually belong to the same tribe of Jahm in Mareb. What do those kidnappers want to say? Are they challenging the President in an attempt to harm his image abroad? Why this brutality and disobedience? Where does the state stand in all of this?
All in all, we can conclude that security in our country is still not mature enough, especially if we assume that this timing was not a coincidence.
But if there is only one positive thing those kidnappers have done, than it is the increasing insistence of the leadership to hunt them down and bring them to justice. In his statement, the President has shown that he is aware of the attempts of those kidnappers to harm his image while he is abroad, and is explicitly saying that if those kidnappers think they are harming his image or doing him harm, they should realize that the whole country has suffered from their actions and not only him.
This incident will probably fuel public anger and outrage at its method and timing. It was not an easy task, but it did put us all in embarrassment.
However, every time we think we have found the solution to kidnapping, and every time a few months pass without kidnapping, we hear of another kidnapping incident, and we go back to square one all over again.
In this very column last week, I wrote an article about the German tourist group that was courageous to come to Yemen for a tourist trip. What would we tell them now? How do we explain to them what happened?
We cannot discourage them from coming, and hence cannot approve the travel warnings their countries had issued, but we also cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is OK.
It is high time to seek a way out of this chaotic situation. We need to end this phenomenon once and for all. Words are not enough, and action must follow.
But what kind of action could help in a country with an average of 3 pieces of weapons per person? What kind of measures could be taken if law and regulations are not respected and are not enforced on the citizens equally? How can the government bring the kidnappers to justice if they belong to a lawless governorate called Mareb?
Yes, you get it! The above questions are actually the answers. They could at least serve as a starting point.
So, will we ever start?
I hope so!