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The Yemeni Tribe and the State of Law and Order

A tribe is essentially a mini-state and its laws apply to those who belong to it. It does not tolerate the violation of the rights of any of its individual members.

It does not honor any individual who harms its reputation and may repudiate, or punish according to its traditions, anyone who reflects a negative image of the tribe. That is why the tribal community will continue to exist and flourish even in modern life.

In Yemen, the tribe has a norm that is different from what is known today. A tribesman is that person who acts with honor and dignity, valor and generosity.

He is that person who protects his land and honor, rushes to rescue the weak and forgives his own. He is a person who accepts dialogue and rational thinking. A tribesman has unrivaled loyalty to his tribe and its leader (the sheikh) and, in certain situations, he puts the tribe’s interest before his own and his children’s.

A tribesman would do anything to heighten the status of his tribe even though the tribe does not employ him or provide a salary. However, in adversity, he may need tribal protection.

He would never turn his back on his tribe, and involves himself in every issue. He plays the role that tribal customs and traditions require of him, even if he knows it is a lost cause. That is why members of the tribe are united in both times of joy and hardship.

I remember a story of tribal loyalty about two men from a Yemeni tribe in a remote area.

The two tribesmen were walking on a street in the capital, enjoying their tour, when all of a sudden they heard a woman shouting angrily in the face of a group of men in a tone similar to that of their tribe. Before inquiring about what was going on, they started fighting with the men. It turned out that both sides belonged to the same tribe. They quickly announced that everything was all right and those who had gathered around were left with nothing to see.

In any case, loyalty to the tribe still exists in the hearts and minds of all Yemenis. Whatever the person’s level of scientific, political or legal education, he cannot be separated from his tribal identity. Consequently, it has become necessary for intellectuals (like lawyers and politicians) to deal with the tribe in a new way, and work to transform loyalty to the tribe into loyalty to Yemen.

If we change the traditional view of the tribe, we can win them over and build our homeland.

If we put our minds to it, we can utilize the tribal values and rigorous systems to build the state, maintain order, and implement the law.

We need a scientific study to account for all tribal systems, so that we can achieve a balance between them and the state’s regulations. This will be a strong strategy for genuine change in the tribes and a way to raise awareness about (and gain support for) the laws of the state of Yemen.

To this end a campaign titled “Homeland is One Tribe”