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THERE IS WISDOM IN YEMEN, IF WE SEEK IT

The Daily Star - January 6, 2010 by Rami G. Khouri When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared a few days ago that the United Kingdom and the United States would soon convene a special summit on “stabilizing” Yemen in order to reduce the threat of terrorism emanating from there, I cried in my heart for Yemen. My fears were exacerbated when I read the following day that the top American military commander in the region had visited Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to offer support, pledging more financial and military assistance to defeat the growing presence of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, which also has the potential to affect other countries in the Arabian Peninsula. The idea that Yemen has suddenly become a “terror problem” country and that the US and UK can lead it to greener pastures is symptomatic of the collective policy failures that have seen the world today suffer so widely from problems of political violence and terrorism. Conferences in London and shipments of US arms and money will not solve the problem. The Anglo-Americans lack the ability or will to come to terms with the full dimensions of terrorism and its genesis. A starting point in that direction would be to grasp that terrorism traumatizes and harms four primary actors. The first is the terrorist himself. Most terrorists are reasonably smart and educated young men who have become crazy due to the circumstances of their lives and their societies’ political, economic, and social conditions, including interactions with foreign armies. The second is the society that breeds terrorists, including many in the Middle East. The disequilibrium, disparities and distortions plaguing those societies ultimately generate a handful of men who become terrorists. Terrorists do not emerge from a vacuum. They emerge from terrorized societies. The third target of terrorism comprises those innocent civilians who are attacked by terrorists, whether in Arab hotels, Pakistani markets, Manhattan skyscrapers, or London buses. The attacked societies are terrorized and traumatized by the criminality that assaults them, and they usually have no idea why they were attacked or what to do in response. They are truly the innocent victims who pay the highest price. The fourth madness often haunting the world of terrorism is the response of governments whose countries or citizens have been subjected to terror attacks. Terrorized, then crazed with anger and driven to seek revenge, governments in turn unleash their own immense military and police power to fight terrorists and bring them to justice. This approach only rarely succeeds, and more often intensifies the first two problems above: Local traditional societies around the developing world that are at the receiving end of the Western powers’ might eventually become crazed, distorted, ravaged lands full of tyranny, corruption, instability, abuse of power, and violence; and those traumatized societies in turn eventually breed more of their own terrorists who attack at home and abroad. If we do not address these four dimensions of terrorism and its traumas, we will never resolve the problem. Medieval Arabs used to say that “In Yemen, there is wisdom.” There is also much wisdom to be gleaned from Yemen today, in particular by Anglo-American and other leaders who should understand how and why the country has come to play a role in the world of global terrorism. This starts with an honest analysis of the four victims of terrorism, rather than by isolating only one of them – Yemeni society – and using the wrong tools in addressing it. The network of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen is structurally linked with, and has organically emerged from, the experience of militants, resistance fighters, terrorists and others who trained and fought in Afghanistan and Iraq – sometimes with Anglo-American assistance against a common foe, but sometimes against the Anglo-Americans who were seen as foreign occupiers. This network has been building up in Yemen since the mid-1990s, but Yemen’s instability and emergence as a terrorist base goes much further back. The British, with their colonial history in the southern part of Yemen along with other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, bear some historical responsibility for how things have turned out in our region in the past century. The wrecks often masquerading as modern Arab states are fragile in many cases because they emerged from colonial rule (mostly French and British) in wildly unsustainable conditions, due to the double constraints of European colonialism and post-colonial policies: the combination of national boundaries that were highly artificial and thus created structurally unstable states, then the advent of local rulers who were put in place by the retreating colonial powers, often lacked any serious indigenous legitimacy, and ultimately developed into, or gave way to, today’s security states. Therefore, for the British to convene a global summit to fix Yemen is akin to Tiger Woods offering a course in marriage fidelity. It is not a serious proposition. Fighting the modern scourge of political terrorism with the kind of intellectual terrorism that Gordon Brown offers will not work. If this is a joke, it is not funny. If this is serious, we are all in much deeper trouble than any of us could ever have imagined.





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[ Afghanistan ] [ Arabia Saudita ] [ Asia ] [ Asia Meridionale ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Indocina ] [ Islam e democrazia ] [ Medio Oriente ] [ Pakistan ] [ Unione Europea ] [ Yemen ]

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[ Afghanistan ] [ Arabia Saudita ] [ Asia ] [ Asia Meridionale ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Indocina ] [ Islam e democrazia ] [ Medio Oriente ] [ Pakistan ] [ Unione Europea ] [ Yemen ]

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[ Afghanistan ] [ Arabia Saudita ] [ Asia ] [ Asia Meridionale ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Indocina ] [ Islam e democrazia ] [ Medio Oriente ] [ Pakistan ] [ Unione Europea ] [ Yemen ]


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