Political Analysis

Sana’a Governor and Hamid al-Ahmar Locked in Tribal Battle

A bystander was killed and another was injured during an exchange of fire between the armed bodyguards of Hamid Al-Ahmar, a prominent businessman and one leading member of the opposition party, and Sana’a governor Noman Dowaid’s security forces.

The exchange occurred on last Saturday in the upscale Hadda neighborhood in Sana’a.

Eyewitnesses said that the exchange of fire happened on Saturday night after the governor had said during a political rally of the ruling party that Hamid Al-Ahmar had gained his wealth from the looting of public funds.

“I am not afraid of Hamid Al-Ahmar and he knows well my rank as well as his rank,” Dowaid said.

“Patriotism is not in looting kids’ parks or exploitation , and he who wants to be a patriot should instead provide kids’s parks from his wealth.”

For these critical comments, Sheikh Yahia Dowaid with his sons and other VIPs apologized, and sought arbitration with the al-Ahmar tribe.

But the situation got critical after several incidents of gun battles between the two parties. It extended to repeatedly exchanged insults and the condemning of the aggression between Duwaid and Al-Ahmer.

The Hashid and Bakil tribes, the higher confederacies above the two competing subtribes, were involved in the mediation.

Both parties have denied that responsibility for starting the exchange of fire.

Dowaid, who belongs to Bakil tribe, said that Al-Ahmar’s men attacked his house’s security detail and he has the evidence, as his men allegedly seized one of the assailants’ cars.

While Al-Ahmar, who belongs to Hashid tribe, said that Dowaid security forces attacked the house guards around his house.

Tribal Mediation Invoked

These are the stories the two tribes have adhered to while the case awaits mediation. Al-Ahmar gave eight guns to a tribe in Khawlan to help settle the dispute.

The case has taken on a vast political dimension pitting the government against the opposition. It is now coming to be seen as attempts of political assassination rather than a mere personal dispute.

Both interpretations will complicate national reconciliation and hinder the reconvening of dialogue which the president has recently offered to the opposition coalition.

Meanwhile, MP Abdu Bashir, described in Monday’s parliamentary session what happened between Al-Ahmar and Dowaid as a “personal problem.”

He denied what official and opposition media have written about this case and denied  the killing of a bystander who belongs to the Wasab tribe in Dhamar governorate.

Abdulaziz Jubari also criticized Al-Ahmar and Dowaid for their resort to weapons. “these events came to prove that Yemen people cannot dispute politically in a peaceful way as elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Jubari noted that the political disputes in Yemen are dominated by the presence of weapons, which means the absence of political awareness.”

Back to the Tribe

The dispute comes at a time when the relationship between the tribe and the State still surrounds the political and social, and there is an open competition for influence, domination, and loyalty between the two institutions.

Although Dowaid is a governor and has authority and power, he preferred returning back to the tribe. Thousands of Khawlan and Bakil tribal sheikhs are coming to support him.

Dowaid said that Al-Ahmar’s actions are not new or extraordinary. He said many of his violent actions have no relation to the law or tribal customs.

At the same time, Security procedures in Sana’a has been upgraded,  especially after the arrival of thousands Hashid tribesmen to support Hamid Al-Ahmar.

Al-Ahmar also gave guns to a Wasab sheikh in Dhamar to arbitrate in case it was proved that his armed men killed one of Wasab tribesmen.

In addition, he sent a personal letter to the Khawlan sheiks in which he complained of the offence he suffered from Duwaid.

He wrote, “Your generous visit to Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmer house is enough to let that offence pass, but some people were not satisfied, and tried transform a verbal offence into violence.”

Al-Ahmar further claimed that government cars to pursued him while he was on his way home in Sana’a and opened fire on some of his guards, resulting in the death of an innocent bystander and the wounding of another.

His car was damaged and his armed men were “miraculously saved from the heavy rain of bullets fired by over 30 armed men.”

Tribes’ Political Role Criticized

The tribe represents the basic form of society and the most effective social and political actors, according to a recent social study, prepared by a group of Yemeni researchers.

The study, inaugurated in Sana’a in a workshop executed by The Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights in cooperation with The International Development Research Center in Canada, noted that the political role of tribal sheikhs has resulted in curbing citizens participation in the political field in general and has undercut citizens’ ability to pressure the government to make substantive reforms.

It has created what can be called a “political commitment system” and the average citizen’s submission to compound repression – political repression by the state and social repression by prominent tribal personalities.

The study, which was prepared by a group of researchers under Prof. Adel al-Sharjabi in a book titled “Al-Qasr wa al-Diwan: The Political Role of the Tribe in Yemen,” noted that the factors that contributed in promoting the political power of the tribe are represented in the weakness of the state’s structure.

Its security apparatus, the weakness of the state’s permeation into rural areas, weakness of law, criminal impunity, the weakness of civil alternatives, the violence of tribal custom, and the patronage of regional states have all been blamed for the current state of affairs.

The study showed that the tribe is a pre-state structure, and it is supposed to theoretically lose its political importance as a strong national state grows.

The Relationship with the Authority

The relationship between the authority and tribes has varied widely with the successive presidents since the sixtees.

Even President Ali Abdullah Saleh was known for embracing alliance with many tribes. He constructed “The Tribal Affairs Authority” as a means of organizing his relationship with the tribes. This authority has paid out a monthly salary for many sheikhs whom the State asked for help in the 1994 Civil War and the Houthi war.

The study considers that the tribal sheikhs have dominated legislative power since the unity until now, and that they remain the real authority behind law-making.

Tribal sheikhs, the findings continued, through their domination on the legislative power, are merging most of the tribal customs with established legislative structure.

The study showed that the sheikhs have contributed to the disequilibrium between the legislative and executive powers and under the undeclared agreement have resolved to divide the authority between the State leadership and traditional, i.e. tribal, authority.

Professor Adel Al-Sharjabi, during a discussion of the study’s conclusions, asserted that the most important changes of the tribe were that the sheikh has represented historically the tribe against the State and recently he represents the state against the tribe.

He said today that the sheikh oversees the repression of the state against the citizen and the state overlooks the sheikh, who also represses the citizen. He said there are many examples in which the sheikh has denied citizens their rights in which the state took no meaningful action.

“The tribe is not able to protect the citizens and the citizen is not able to express his opinion in the audience of the sheikh – only to praise the sheikh or stop talking,” al-Sharjabi noted.

“The Yemeni tribal structure is responsible for the phenomenon of inheritance in political life.” He said that parliamentary representatives are inevitably sheikhs or their sons for at least 30 years, with few exceptions.

Al-Sharjabi has criticized the recent administrative divisions, and has said that it is a “tribal division not a developmental division. Constituencies have been distributed in a way to benefit the sheikhs.”

He showed that there is such a multiplication in the number of deputies that there are more deputies than there are districts, and all of them are the sons of sheikhs.

A great part of corruption resulted from tribal structure and inefficient State apparatus because, in his words, “the sheikh is the merchant, his son is the officer and his other son is the company owner, so we are faced with a compound structure of corruption.”

He said that the standards of competition do not depend on qualifications in Yemen, because of endemic monopolization which makes the basic structure of society uncompetitive.

Al-Sharjabi added that there are deformities in the State structure and corruption which guarantees the perpetrators of poor governance stable employment.

He showed that there is a kind of symbiotic relationship between the Sate and corruption and that the ruling classes act freely with the state’s financial budget not for the administrative whims, but for personal uses.

Tribes’ Role in Society Remains Unassailable

In the other side, Sheikh Sultan al-Samee, Parliament council member, claims that the problem is not in the system of sheikhs but in the mentality on which the system depends.

He said we cannot say that the tribal system is a corrupted system only through its deeds, but is but one malfunctioning institution among many in the country.

In a statement to the National Yemen newspaper, he said that the role of the tribe in Yemen and other Arab countries is great, and in the past decades in Yemen the State tried to weaken and eliminate the role of tribe.

He accused the state of coddling the sheikhs. He said that the State has created the sheikhs who were not sheikhs at all, but were “thugs out of jails and some of them are smugglers known to have committed criminal acts.”

Al-Samee caimed that the state is the one which creates problems and wars among tribes, aiming at reducing the role of the tribe politically.

Many tribesmen have expressed their worry over this study and have worked to solidify their position in society, especially in their relationship with the State, which is sometimes characterized by conflict, but most of the time by alliance.

The basic role of the tribe is not by a product of their intrinsic power, but the persistent weakness of the state.

In the last ten years, many areas in Maareb have become areas of conflict between the state and tribes. The tribes have kidnapped hostages and bargained with the state to release the hostages at great cost.

The tribes have wanted to monopolize jobs in oil companies, and often characterize themselves to their constituents as the only legitimate means of advancement, and lead average citizen to think that they are the only available way to improve their state of affairs.

Mohammed Al-Zaidi, a social worker in the Development Foundation in Maareb and a member of the Bani Jaber Tribe, said the point view that the tribe is an obstacle in development is not correct, based on his own experience.

He showed that kidnapping has happened from time to time because the tribes have sought to apply the law and reclaim property and compatriots. “If there were any organized justice, nothing like this will happen,” he said.

“We in the tribes are eager to apply the law for all and treat all people equally under the law. The tribesman can get his rights when he seeks the assistance of the tribe after he discovers that only the tribe can bring him justice.

“Malaysia and the Emirates are sheikhdoms and sultanates. They are united under a fair system ruled by sheiks to work for the people’s demands, and the ruling mentality determines whether the ruler is successful or unsuccessful.”

Bloody conflict continues to persist in Yemen.  Will this study impact the future of tribal alliances with each other and with the state?

Tribe and State:  a Symbiotic Relationship

The political effect in the tribal system revolves around the role of sheikhs in the political scene and their ownership for weapons, with which they have faced the state, as well as the tribe’s domination of the army establishment.

According to the study “The Ruling Personalities in Yemen” which was prepared by the researcher Belqis Abu-Osba, the tribal representation in the army has reached 52.6%, 26.2% in the Judiciary, and 10.5% claim to be Sayyids belonging to the Prophet Muhammad’s family.

The tribes were able to prevail over the state in many positions and occasions. They suceeded in assassinating the president Ibrahim Al-Hamdi in 1977 after he tried to attack the tribes and used air bombardments to suppress a tribal rebellion, but he became their victim.

The tribes represent 85% of 23 million strong population of Yemen. Some of them have even heavier weapons than small arms, which are, of course, universally possessed.

There are tribes owning mortars, machine guns, bombs, and RPG missiles. The weapon is the symbol of manhood and it never before has any Yemeni administration dared to disarm the tribes.

The estimates showed that their numbers among the tribes have reached more than 50 millions weapons.

The Hashid and Bakil tribes are the greatest tribes in Yemen, while the Madhaj tribe is concentrated in the East and Al-Zaraneeq tribe is spread about Tahama.

Although Bakil tribe number is the most numerous, the Hashid tribe remains the most powerful because the president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Sheikh Abdullah Hussein Al-Ahmar, the leader of Islah party and sheikh of the Hashid belong to it.

The Madhaj tribe is the tribe with the greatest geographical extent, and spreads from the middle area throughout Yemen. It is subdivided into a large number of smaller tribes which are mostly engaged in agriculture.

The Hashid tribe is the largest of the three tribes and is located in the North under the leadership of sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmar. It is considered the tribe of the political and economic class, engaged in commerce and politics.

The Bakil tribe is larger than the Hashid, but smaller than the Madhaj. It spreads in the western area and next to the al-Yafra tribe in a part of North.

It consists of warrior tribes living in harsh mountain areas, which colors the personalities of its members, despite recent, significant advancements in infrastructure.

Discrimination Continues

The tribe is still the practical face of the legal system. Some people consider it a part of the state. The basic components of political gatherings and conferences and the state systems have been built according to the tribal affiliation.

Senan Abu Lihoom, one of the prominent sheikhs of Bakil tribe, considers that civilization and progress threatens the tribe.

All Yemeni citizens belong to tribes, at least in name, including the presidents. The tribal system imposes guardianship by the tribal sheikh and it is difficult to leave behind or get out of the tribe.

Customs, traditions, and disputes are all addressed with reference to the tribe in Yemen.

Despite twenty years of unity (1990 – 2010), Yemen has failed to achieve equality among social groups and geographical areas.

The discrimination remains on the basis of the social affiliations, and this failure reflects the general lack of national political progress.

The Tribal Authority in Yemen, as was clearly revealed in a symposium it held in Sana’a in 2008, is a project for importing wealth.

The tribal sheikh in the northern area were capable of accumulating large sums through their presence in the government systems.

This indicates that sheikhs are also preponderant in the economic field, and the government allocates money to support them.

Al-Khetat

Before the Republican coup d’etat in 1962, The Yemeni rulers has ruled by “Al-Khetat.” When the tribe rebelled against the State, the Imam granted rival tribes to perform “Al-Khetat.”

This meant simply that attacks on the rebelling tribe were sanctioned.

In case the attacking tribe wins, it has the right to take money, women, children, and other forms of compensation.

This practice continued for decades which enabled the ruler to impose his domination on the tribes without throwing his army into the fray.

Last year, a famous weapon merchant, Faris Mana’a, was arrested. His brother, Hasan Mana’a, tried to release him according to the tribal customs.

The first party in his case was the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, representing the state, and the second party was the al-Mana’a tribe.

This effort was brought to an end by offering cows and camels which the tribe slaughtered in front of the Presidential Palace as an arbitration to end the problem and release him.

The arbitration was accepted but he was not released.

Sometimes arbitration comes in the form of guns given by the one demanding reconciliation as evidence of the release of his fate into the opponent’s hands.

Al-Wasla

When a disagreement between two tribes is raised, it can be solved by what known as “al-Waslah”.

The tribe in error gathers and goes to the other tribe with many cows, which are slaughtered in front of the sheikh house.

In this occasion, a lot of bullets are fired into the air in celebration.

A bystander was killed and another was injured during an exchange of fire between the armed bodyguards of Hamid Al-Ahmar, a prominent businessman and one leading member of the opposition party, and Sana’a governor Noman Dowaid’s security forces.

The exchange occurred on last Saturday in the upscale Hadda neighborhood in Sana’a.

Eyewitnesses said that the exchange of fire happened on Saturday night after the governor had said during a political rally of the ruling party that Hamid Al-Ahmar had gained his wealth from the looting of public funds. “I am not afraid of Hamid Al-Ahmar and he knows well my rank as well as his rank,” Dowaid said. “Patriotism is not in looting kids’ parks or exploitation , and he who wants to be a patriot should instead provide kids’s parks from his wealth.”

For these critical comments, Sheikh Yahia Dowaid with his sons and other VIPs apologized, and sought arbitration with the al-Ahmar tribe.

But the situation got critical after several incidents of gun battles between the two parties. It extended to repeatedly exchanged insults and the condemning of the aggression between Duwaid and Al-Ahmer.

The Hashid and Bakil tribes, the higher confederacies above the two competing subtribes, were involved in the mediation.

Both parties have denied that responsibility for starting the exchange of fire.Dowaid, who belongs to Bakil tribe, said that Al-Ahmar’s men attacked his house’s security detail and he has the evidence, as his men allegedly seized one of the assailants’ cars. While Al-Ahmar, who belongs to Hashid tribe, said that Dowaid security forces attacked the house guards around his house.

Tribal Mediation Invoked These are the stories the two tribes have adhered to while the case awaits mediation. Al-Ahmar gave eight guns to a tribe in Khawlan to help settle the dispute.

The case has taken on a vast political dimension pitting the government against the opposition. It is now coming to be seen as attempts of political assassination rather than a mere personal dispute. Both interpretations will complicate national reconciliation and hinder the reconvening of dialogue which the president has recently offered to the opposition coalition. Meanwhile, MP Abdu Bashir, described in Monday’s parliamentary session what happened between Al-Ahmar and Dowaid as a “personal problem.”

He denied what official and opposition media have written about this case and denied  the killing of a bystander who belongs to the Wasab tribe in Dhamar governorate.

Abdulaziz Jubari also criticized Al-Ahmar and Dowaid for their resort to weapons. “these events came to prove that Yemen people cannot dispute politically in a peaceful way as elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Jubari noted that the political disputes in Yemen are dominated by the presence of weapons, which means the absence of political awareness.”

Back to the Tribe The dispute comes at a time when the relationship between the tribe and the State still surrounds the political and social, and there is an open competition for influence, domination, and loyalty between the two institutions. Although Dowaid is a governor and has authority and power, he preferred returning back to the tribe. Thousands of Khawlan and Bakil tribal sheikhs are coming to support him.

Dowaid said that Al-Ahmar’s actions are not new or extraordinary. He said many of his violent actions have no relation to the law or tribal customs. At the same time, Security procedures in Sana’a has been upgraded,  especially after the arrival of thousands Hashid tribesmen to support Hamid Al-Ahmar.

Al-Ahmar also gave guns to a Wasab sheikh in Dhamar to arbitrate in case it was proved that his armed men killed one of Wasab tribesmen.

In addition, he sent a personal letter to the Khawlan sheiks in which he complained of the offence he suffered from Duwaid.

He wrote, “Your generous visit to Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmer house is enough to let that offence pass, but some people were not satisfied, and tried transform a verbal offence into violence.”

Al-Ahmar further claimed that government cars to pursued him while he was on his way home in Sana’a and opened fire on some of his guards, resulting in the death of an innocent bystander and the wounding of another. His car was damaged and his armed men were “miraculously saved from the heavy rain of bullets fired by over 30 armed men.”

Tribes’ Political Role Criticized The tribe represents the basic form of society and the most effective social and political actors, according to a recent social study, prepared by a group of Yemeni researchers.

The study, inaugurated in Sana’a in a workshop executed by The Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights in cooperation with The International Development Research Center in Canada, noted that the political role of tribal sheikhs has resulted in curbing citizens participation in the political field in general and has undercut citizens’ ability to pressure the government to make substantive reforms.

It has created what can be called a “political commitment system” and the average citizen’s submission to compound repression – political repression by the state and social repression by prominent tribal personalities.

The study, which was prepared by a group of researchers under Prof.

Adel al-Sharjabi in a book titled “Al-Qasr wa al-Diwan: The Political Role of the Tribe in Yemen,” noted that the factors that contributed in promoting the political power of the tribe are represented in the weakness of the state’s structure.

Its security apparatus, the weakness of the state’s permeation into rural areas, weakness of law, criminal impunity, the weakness of civil alternatives, the violence of tribal custom, and the patronage of regional states have all been blamed for the current state of affairs.

The study showed that the tribe is a pre-state structure, and it is supposed to theoretically lose its political importance as a strong national state grows.

The Relationship with the Authority The relationship between the authority and tribes has varied widely with the successive presidents since the sixtees.

Even President Ali Abdullah Saleh was known for embracing alliance with many tribes. He constructed “The Tribal Affairs Authority” as a means of organizing his relationship with the tribes. This authority has paid out a monthly salary for many sheikhs whom the State asked for help in the 1994 Civil War and the Houthi war.

The study considers that the tribal sheikhs have dominated legislative power since the unity until now, and that they remain the real authority behind law-making.

Tribal sheikhs, the findings continued, through their domination on the legislative power, are merging most of the tribal customs with established legislative structure.

The study showed that the sheikhs have contributed to the disequilibrium between the legislative and executive powers and under the undeclared agreement have resolved to divide the authority between the State leadership and traditional, i.e. tribal, authority.

Professor Adel Al-Sharjabi, during a discussion of the study’s conclusions, asserted that the most important changes of the tribe were that the sheikh has represented historically the tribe against the State and recently he represents the state against the tribe.

He said today that the sheikh oversees the repression of the state against the citizen and the state overlooks the sheikh, who also represses the citizen.

He said there are many examples in which the sheikh has denied citizens their rights in which the state took no meaningful action.

“The tribe is not able to protect the citizens and the citizen is not able to express his opinion in the audience of the sheikh – only to praise the sheikh or stop talking,” al-Sharjabi noted.“

The Yemeni tribal structure is responsible for the phenomenon of inheritance in political life.” He said that parliamentary representatives are inevitably sheikhs or their sons for at least 30 years, with few exceptions.

Al-Sharjabi has criticized the recent administrative divisions, and has said that it is a “tribal division not a developmental division. Constituencies have been distributed in a way to benefit the sheikhs.”

He showed that there is such a multiplication in the number of deputies that there are more deputies than there are districts, and all of them are the sons of sheikhs.A great part of corruption resulted from tribal structure and inefficient State apparatus because, in his words, “the sheikh is the merchant, his son is the officer and his other son is the company owner, so we are faced with a compound structure of corruption.”

He said that the standards of competition do not depend on qualifications in Yemen, because of endemic monopolization which makes the basic structure of society uncompetitive.

Al-Sharjabi added that there are deformities in the State structure and corruption which guarantees the perpetrators of poor governance stable employment. He showed that there is a kind of symbiotic relationship between the Sate and corruption and that the ruling classes act freely with the state’s financial budget not for the administrative whims, but for personal uses.

Tribes’ Role in Society Remains UnassailableIn the other side, Sheikh Sultan al-Samee, Parliament council member, claims that the problem is not in the system of sheikhs but in the mentality on which the system depends. He said we cannot say that the tribal system is a corrupted system only through its deeds, but is but one malfunctioning institution among many in the country.

In a statement to the National Yemen newspaper, he said that the role of the tribe in Yemen and other Arab countries is great, and in the past decades in Yemen the State tried to weaken and eliminate the role of tribe.

He accused the state of coddling the sheikhs. He said that the State has created the sheikhs who were not sheikhs at all, but were “thugs out of jails and some of them are smugglers known to have committed criminal acts.”

Al-Samee caimed that the state is the one which creates problems and wars among tribes, aiming at reducing the role of the tribe politically.

Many tribesmen have expressed their worry over this study and have worked to solidify their position in society, especially in their relationship with the State, which is sometimes characterized by conflict, but most of the time by alliance. The basic role of the tribe is not by a product of their intrinsic power, but the persistent weakness of the state.

In the last ten years, many areas in Maareb have become areas of conflict between the state and tribes. The tribes have kidnapped hostages and bargained with the state to release the hostages at great cost.

The tribes have wanted to monopolize jobs in oil companies, and often characterize themselves to their constituents as the only legitimate means of advancement, and lead average citizen to think that they are the only available way to improve their state of affairs.

Mohammed Al-Zaidi, a social worker in the Development Foundation in Maareb and a member of the Bani Jaber Tribe, said the point view that the tribe is an obstacle in development is not correct, based on his own experience.

He showed that kidnapping has happened from time to time because the tribes have sought to apply the law and reclaim property and compatriots. “If there were any organized justice, nothing like this will happen,” he said.“

We in the tribes are eager to apply the law for all and treat all people equally under the law. The tribesman can get his rights when he seeks the assistance of the tribe after he discovers that only the tribe can bring him justice.

“Malaysia and the Emirates are sheikhdoms and sultanates. They are united under a fair system ruled by sheiks to work for the people’s demands, and the ruling mentality determines whether the ruler is successful or unsuccessful.”

Bloody conflict continues to persist in Yemen.  Will this study impact the future of tribal alliances with each other and with the state?

Tribe and State:  a Symbiotic Relationship The political effect in the tribal system revolves around the role of sheikhs in the political scene and their ownership for weapons, with which they have faced the state, as well as the tribe’s domination of the army establishment.

According to the study “The Ruling Personalities in Yemen” which was prepared by the researcher Belqis Abu-Osba, the tribal representation in the army has reached 52.6%, 26.2% in the Judiciary, and 10.5% claim to be Sayyids belonging to the Prophet Muhammad’s family.

The tribes were able to prevail over the state in many positions and occasions. They suceeded in assassinating the president Ibrahim Al-Hamdi in 1977 after he tried to attack the tribes and used air bombardments to suppress a tribal rebellion, but he became their victim.

The tribes represent 85% of 23 million strong population of Yemen. Some of them have even heavier weapons than small arms, which are, of course, universally possessed. There are tribes owning mortars, machine guns, bombs, and RPG missiles. The weapon is the symbol of manhood and it never before has any Yemeni administration dared to disarm the tribes. The estimates showed that their numbers among the tribes have reached more than 50 millions weapons.

The Hashid and Bakil tribes are the greatest tribes in Yemen, while the Madhaj tribe is concentrated in the East and Al-Zaraneeq tribe is spread about Tahama. Although Bakil tribe number is the most numerous, the Hashid tribe remains the most powerful because the president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Sheikh Abdullah Hussein Al-Ahmar, the leader of Islah party and sheikh of the Hashid belong to it.

The Madhaj tribe is the tribe with the greatest geographical extent, and spreads from the middle area throughout Yemen. It is subdivided into a large number of smaller tribes which are mostly engaged in agriculture.

The Hashid tribe is the largest of the three tribes and is located in the North under the leadership of sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmar.

It is considered the tribe of the political and economic class, engaged in commerce and politics.

The Bakil tribe is larger than the Hashid, but smaller than the Madhaj. It spreads in the western area and next to the al-Yafra tribe in a part of North.

It consists of warrior tribes living in harsh mountain areas, which colors the personalities of its members, despite recent, significant advancements in infrastructure.

Discrimination Continues The tribe is still the practical face of the legal system. Some people consider it a part of the state. The basic components of political gatherings and conferences and the state systems have been built according to the tribal affiliation.

Senan Abu Lihoom, one of the prominent sheikhs of Bakil tribe, considers that civilization and progress threatens the tribe.

All Yemeni citizens belong to tribes, at least in name, including the presidents. The tribal system imposes guardianship by the tribal sheikh and it is difficult to leave behind or get out of the tribe. Customs, traditions, and disputes are all addressed with reference to the tribe in Yemen.

Despite twenty years of unity (1990 – 2010), Yemen has failed to achieve equality among social groups and geographical areas. The discrimination remains on the basis of the social affiliations, and this failure reflects the general lack of national political progress.

The Tribal Authority in Yemen, as was clearly revealed in a symposium it held in Sana’a in 2008, is a project for importing wealth. The tribal sheikh in the northern area were capable of accumulating large sums through their presence in the government systems. This indicates that sheikhs are also preponderant in the economic field, and the government allocates money to support them.

Al-Khetat Before the Republican coup d’etat in 1962, The Yemeni rulers has ruled by “Al-Khetat.”

When the tribe rebelled against the State, the Imam granted rival tribes to perform “Al-Khetat.”

This meant simply that attacks on the rebelling tribe were sanctioned.

In case the attacking tribe wins, it has the right to take money, women, children, and other forms of compensation.

This practice continued for decades which enabled the ruler to impose his domination on the tribes without throwing his army into the fray.

Last year, a famous weapon merchant, Faris Mana’a, was arrested.

His brother, Hasan Mana’a, tried to release him according to the tribal customs.

The first party in his case was the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, representing the state, and the second party was the al-Mana’a tribe.

This effort was brought to an end by offering cows and camels which the tribe slaughtered in front of the Presidential Palace as an arbitration to end the problem and release him. The arbitration was accepted but he was not released. Sometimes arbitration comes in the form of guns given by the one demanding reconciliation as evidence of the release of his fate into the opponent’s hands.

Al-WaslaWhen a disagreement between two tribes is raised, it can be solved by what known as “al-Waslah”.

The tribe in error gathers and goes to the other tribe with many cows, which are slaughtered in front of the sheikh house. In this occasion, a lot of bullets are fired into the air in celebration.