By Bilal Ahmed Homran-For
I am far from my motherland of Yemen and I am worried: worried for my loved ones, worried for the children of a failing united society, worried for the lady I met in change square weeping over her son’s body in change square, and I am most of all worried as Yemen discovers its freedom from a long and cruel 33 year dictatorship rule under Saleh.
I am at a distance far from the noise of gunfire. Yemen is at a crucial crossroads in its life time.
My sole recommendation to the interim government is to allow all of its people to contribute towards a stronger, peaceful, and prosperous new Yemen. Sadly, this has yet to be the case.
President Saleh’s rule over Yemen was not an easy task and I can truly say he did a great job ruling over a complex tribal, politically diverse and religious society. But at the same time, he turned Yemen into a ticking bomb waiting to explode and we’re faced with that reality now. The different factions of Yemeni society sown by Saleh are now dangerously beginning to look after their own interests in this post-Saleh period.
Criminal gangs have now taken the streets of my hometown Taiz. The terrorists are exploiting the void in authority as the government is preoccupied with its fragile control over the country. Northerners are still continuing their unsolved wrongs towards their southern counterparts, which is keeping the push for a southern option very much alive. Government employees still are overpowered with greed. The Houthi rebellion in the north continues to aim for a one hierarchy Zadi caliphate.
Yemen is the poorest nation in the Middle East and while the causes are many, its poverty can mostly be put on the failed leadership of the Yemeni government. No one needs to look any further than the abundance of natural resources wasted as a result of deep corruption.
Arabia Felix is what Romans called modern day Yemen and they knew what they were talking about. They were not referring t vast wealth hidden in Yemeni soil, but the hearts of the Yemeni people. What I enjoy most about Yemen is its warm hospitality. Yemenis will do anything to make sure their guests are welcomed with open arms.
This hospitality isn’t reserved just for foreigners as I witness it on a regular basis. One night during the holy month of Ramadan, I was driving to the Internet Cafe with my cousin. We stopped by a local café and my cousin stepped out to order as I remained in the car to catch up on my reading.
As my cousin ordered our regular juices and sandwiches a teenaged boy came to my car and hands me two pieces of kak (A Yemeni cookie like cake pastry) with simplicity and warmth I couldn’t help but realize that he only kept one for himself. I know that I can roam through the forbidden zone of the Hadramout region on a camel knowing that hospitality is waiting at the midst of the long desert divide.
It is without hesitation I must say that Yemen’s greatness has yet to be found. It will be decades until its people discover the true realities of the new democratic open norms or simply emerge as another divided society if the care taker government fails to include all of the Yemeni people in its decision makings. I wish Yemen nothing but the peaceful best and a prosperous future Insha Allah!