By Fakhri al-Arashi
The fear aroused by a security vacuum during the Eid holidays may negatively effect the virginal situation of the country. In the past few days, new security concerns and threats from al-Qaeda in Yemen have pushed some embassies to temporarily suspend their operations in Sana’a for security reasons. The hints at a security threat have taken the form of a massive media campaign, instead of a process for enhanced security and protection.
Diminished security at a time so critical to Yemen can only be harmful to the country’s development. A move that truly fights terrorism will always be more progressive than one that grants al-Qaeda a victory or allows them to achieve any of their goals. For al-Qaeda, the battle is fought largely in the media, and any publicity afforded their organization is a first round victory. This celebrity helps them to attract new elements.
Last Wednesday, military units securitizing the National Dialogue were withdrawn from the Movenpick Hotel, where dialogue sessions are conducted, to the hotel’s access points. This decision brought me back to the early days of the dialogue, when hundreds of guards worked day and night to ensure the security of the Dialogue against any possible threat or interruption.
The general concept of security relies not on how security officers protect the dialogue and surrounding embassies, whether at the start of the Dialogue or this past Wednesday. The concept of security requires asking why the Security Committee evacuated their positions immediately following the announcement of NDC working groups for the Eid holiday, which began last Friday? Did the Committee notice that sudden evacuation of all military and security members could cause harm to the Conference and encourage its enemies to take advantage of the Conference’s temporary vulnerability? Do we consider security withdrawal a military tactic? I have no idea. Both the American and British embassy sit in the same area as the National Dialogue Headquarters; is their warning of an al-Qaeda threat in any way related to the security evacuation from the territory they share with the NDC working sessions? How could they not feel less secure when a significant number of security forces are suddenly removed?
All these concerns, and the questions they inspire, lead me to doubt political and security operations in Yemen, because the concerns born of insufficient security measures have already started coming true. A security guard at the Italian embassy was attacked recently, and a failed attempt to assassinate the Saudi consul ended with the murder of one of his bodyguards and the injury of another. In the context of the al-Qaeda threats, the evacuation of military troops to their regular posts just poses a large question mark. The intelligence security community may have the answer, so long as that answer is not obfuscated by soldier’s salaries or Ramadan bonuses.