Yemen: Don’t shoot yourself in the foot
Once known as the Happy Yemen (Yemen Saeed), it is more than just a country. It is one of the oldest centers of civilization.
In recent years, Yemenis helped build their neighboring countries but somehow did not work for the uplift of their own. Yemenis are hardworking people and have an astonishing ability to adapt to changing environments. It is mainly due to this quality that they can be found all across the world and praised for living in harmony with people from diverse cultural background. Ironically though, they fail to tolerate each other in their own country.
Internal disputes and tribal rivalries have cost the country hundreds of thousands of lives and destroyed the already primitive infrastructure.
In the not so distant future, it may become the world’s first country to run out of water. This writer feels that it is not just water; it is also running out of time. A bloody civil war between the south and north and tribal disputes have aggravated the situation.
With a population of more than 20 million, Yemen is one of the most underdeveloped countries of the region with one of the highest birth rates. With few major cities such as Sanaa, Hudaidah and Aden, majority of the people live in small towns and villages scattered across the country. Had it not been for the continuous fighting, Yemen could have been a prosperous country. Sadly though, it is because of the Yemenis that this country is lagging behind in almost every sphere of life. So, who is going to save Yemen from its own people?
The country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early 20th century. Later the two sides emerged as independent countries only to get united in 1990 to form the modern republic of Yemen. Despite this union, the two sides always remained at loggerheads. Being one of the ancient centers of civilization, Yemen is home to many historical sites. If planned properly, it could become a great tourist attraction in the region that could help boost economy of the country. Obviously for that to happen, it has to be politically stable.
Yemen has been largely dependent on foreign aid. The neighboring Gulf countries and other western states have been injecting billions of dollars into the Yemeni economy to keep it afloat. It, however, remains a mystery as to where those foreign funds evaporated. The description of Yemen will remain incomplete without the mention of Qat. It is a flowering plant and is kind of a drug. A large number of Yemenis are addicted to it. The number of small arms perhaps exceeds the total population and the arms market in Yemen is often described as the largest open market in the world. You can buy any kind of weapon freely and in the open. Poverty and a lack of good education made Yemen an open ground for infiltrators. Al-Qaeda made its base after the US invasion of Afghanistan and became not a threat to itself but a threat to the world.
It is reported that 9/11 attacks were rehearsed in Yemen with the attack on the US Navy destroyer, USS Cole. Now, Yemen is not going to be bifurcated, it will be divided into six regions. And the question now is how these six regions are going to be governed and ruled?
It is mainly up to the people of Yemen to rise from the ashes of years-long wars and conflicts. Neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia are more than willing to help Yemen rise once again. For that to materialize, Yemenis have to close their ranks by setting aside their political differences in the larger interest of their homeland. There are hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who work in the Kingdom and the foreign remittances serve as a lifeline for the crumbling economy. It is up to the Yemenis who could once again bring back the good old days when the country was fondly referred to as “Happy Yemen.” Foreign assistance in this regard is important and at the end of the day, the onus lies on the Yemenis to steer their country out of the current political mess. This writer feels that Yemenis have suffered a lot. It is high time that they resolved their issues amicably and worked together for the uplift of their beautiful country, which is full of potential to grow into a great nation.