Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Yemeni predicament

Source: Al-Arabiya

By: Hassan Haidar 21\10\2010

Sitting around the oval-shaped table are a number of generals with stars shining on their shoulders, counterterrorism experts and advisors on the affairs of the countries of the Arab and Muslim world.

Some of them have previously served in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. Before them is a large, colored and detailed map, full of signs, circles, arrows and questions marks. As for the topic of the meeting, it is nothing but the “Yemeni predicament”.

The reason that drove the meeting’s organizers to select such a title is that, after many long years of trying to understand the situation in Yemen, how matters take place there and where they are heading, the answer to many of the questions they raise remains obscure, and they are still unable to decipher how this country is ruled and to solve the riddle of the intertwined relations between its constituents, or to lay out a successful plan to combat terrorism, which is spreading dangerously on its soil and threatening their own countries as well.

Those same people had about a year ago, voluntarily or out of necessity, reached a conclusion that amounted to abandoning the idea of direct intervention there by air or by land, and to be content with providing financial assistance, training national security forces, which bear the burden of uprooting terrorism, and offering similar aid for development.

Yet some of them still raise intriguing questions to which answers, even approximate answers, must be found.

That is because it is perhaps contingent on them to define the strategy governing relations with a number of similar countries in the region, countries of which the resources are growing in importance every day, along with the growing danger posed by their extremists, which explains the decision to hold such a meeting.

Among such questions are for example: how does the Yemeni regime bring together relying on the support of the tribes and of Islamists, and defending those people from their own extremist sons, who are in turn fighting against it?

And how can it combine fighting Al-Qaeda in some regions and appointing the man whom the West considers to be the organization’s “spiritual leader”, Sheikh Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, as head of the supervising committee for national dialogue, which is in charge of negotiating with opposition parties over amending the electoral law?

Or how is the army unable to win the battle in the two cities of Loder and Mudia, where terrorists have adopted an attack and retreat method, when the government then sends around 30 thousand troops with their machinery and armored vehicles to these same areas in order to provide security for the “Gulf 20” football tournament?

Why do the tribes that support the regime consider that the West is exaggerating the threat of Al-Qaeda because it wants to impose its hegemony over Yemen, and that the President is going along with it because he finds in the war against the organization the opportunity to strike against those who oppose him domestically while the tribes continue to support him?

If such a threat has been exaggerated, then what is the meaning of the repeated attacks against Western embassies in Sanaa, the latest of which targeted a senior British diplomat a few days ago?

And why does the Yemeni government fiercely resist US pressures to exert more effort in combating terrorism, while it asserts every day that it is waging a merciless war against Al-Qaeda?

If the government in Sanaa always asks for more Western and Arab assistance, why does it refrain from providing evidence that such assistance is being well-spent, rather than disappearing in the corridors of corruption and nepotism?

Why do most Western governments in their own assemblies accuse the Yemeni regime of evading its responsibilities in resolving the country’s problems, and then continue to support it financially and politically?

After long hours of discussion, those participating the meeting have finally agreed to publish an advertisement in the world’s major newspapers, television networks and media outlets, offering an appealing reward to anyone who can provide conclusive answers.

*Published by the London-based DAR ALHAYAT on Oct. 21, 2010

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