On the morning of February 19 my colleague attended a conference featuring Prime Minister Basindwa and Minister of Defense Abdualqader Qahtan. The conference was about the “security and stability of Yemen.”
They spoke of the security and safety situation in Yemen as if the crisis was a distant phenomenon. The conference ended with a smile on each of their faces, each so optimistic and cheerful about the future. When she told me of the conference, I felt as though I were living in a dream. My country without problems, war, bombings, drones and assassinations. As usual, the dream was cut short; reality, nasty and grim, woke me up. We were once again confronted with the truth.
We were awoken from our collective dream with a loud crash. A fighter jet crashed into a residential area in the Qadisiyah neighborhood, leaving many dead and injured.
Is this the safety and security you were talking about? I think you misjudged; perhaps it was the irony of fate.
What a juxtaposition between the morning and the afternoon of February 19. People were safe in their homes, never expecting such an event. A jet crashed into their homes and into their lives; the scene was heart-wrenching: charred bodies, burned beyond recognition.
How did it happen? What was the cause? No answers.
A few months ago there was an explosion at an arms storage facility; a little later, an Antonov aircraft fell in Haseba, killing ten. The only answer given was that the crash was a result of ‘technical failures.’ Do we have to settle for this excuse every time? Yemenis are smarter than to put up with this.
To the Commander of the Air Force: what do you have to say about what happened? You should announce your immediate resignation, out of a moral sense, a human sense, or if nothing else, to own up to the shame.
Basindwa and Qahtan: is this the security and stability you talked about?
As I was leaving the scene of the crash, I was confronted by someone else’s pain. My taxi driver received a phone call informing him his niece had died. Once he was able to grasp what he had just heard, he informed the person on the other end to tell the hospital to keep her in a refrigerated room.
I asked him why he wanted her kept in a refrigerated room; he told me that he could not afford a keffin, the white sheet the body is wrapped in before buried.
People too poor to buy a keffin must deal with a greater hardship – losing loved ones. Your military allows ‘these accidents’ to keep happening. There’s nothing accidental about negligence.
The Yemeni people are waiting for an explanation.