Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Surprising pardon in Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Generally, I don’t construe official’ statements as they are given.

One of these statements declared that the campaign by al-Houthi’s followers was just an attempt to topple the republican regime and return Yemen back to a historical imamate. That statement is probably as credible as a news item covering a flying saucers landing from Mars.

So if you believe in aliens landing on earth, I then will believe that this coup d’etat goal was reclaiming the 50s imamate. The Imamate was obliterated 45 years ago without a single quest to regain it till the end of the Yemeni civil war, how could it suddenly come back to life?

Al-Houthi and his followers’ emergence in Yemen came as no surprise. Him and his kind can be found everywhere; they are spread all over the Islamic world, and have called for insubordination and used violence in all regions from Indonesia to Morocco. I Actually see no good reason in Al Houthi being granted a pardon while others take the fall. Is putting the blame on past ghosts just a method of extinguishing a fire, or just an attempt to distance al-Houthi from everybody else? Al-Houthi’s rebellion has lasted long enough to spread his messages, his stances and followers’ orientations, to the point where it is very difficult for them to see an alternative point of view.

The second bombshell here is that Yemeni authorities have pardoned the leader of the insurgents, after the murders of hundreds of Yemeni citizens and security forces, in addition to al-Houthi’s followers. The Battles that took place between the insurgents and Yemeni security forces were the largest of its kind that Yemenis had seen to since the North and South war in the 90s, and the first non-governmental war since the civil war in the 60s.

Nevertheless this surprising pardon is comprehensible if it is viewed within the current political circumstances that surround it. The Yemeni authorities have decided to forgo tracking criminals for the sake of securing the local environment and entity and curbing riots, even if it is a violation of the rules.

I really hope that the president’s initiative is in the right place, and that his forgiveness would be a securing resort and an end to this unfamiliar crisis to the Yemeni people. This crisis resulted mainly from religious extremism that Yemenis haven’t encountered before. Essentially, it has to be understood that this pardon is not an acceptance of violence. And the origins of this culture of violence should be identified and the incubating forces that drive more frequent violence should be exterminated.

Yemen’s crisis has coincided with the Omani authorities arrests, although Oman hasn’t encountered any local violence ever since the leftist Zafar confrontations. In Yemen, the riot was lead by a son of a tribe’s leader, while in Oman the riot was lead by a teacher who was also the imam of the university’s mosque and a governmental employee.

The picture becomes clearer every day. Ten year ago, the general perception was that it was merely a battle in an Algerian district. More or less all the Arab capitals have become a battlefield for organized groups of extremists. It’s clear that the danger isn’t rooted in a certain central organization but rather from the ideas that spread in the region and the recklessness that it was met with. All Arab countries considered it as an unlikely plague, or an intruding dogma, whose ideological roots we refuse to explore.