Sanaa, Asharq Al-Awsat- Security measures have been announced, and are in the process of being implemented in Yemen. They are impacting upon the activities of local businessmen and Yemeni citizens, who work in the air cargo trade, and who want to transport their goods between Yemen and other countries and trade centers. These destinations include Dubai, Hong Kong, India, China, and other countries which have commercial links with Yemeni traders.
The Yemen Civil Aviation Authority (YCAA) has announced the implementation of air cargo security measures, and has described these measures as “extraordinary”. These measures coincide with the investigations conducted by the YCAA and Yemeni security services, into the parcel bombs that were sent from Yemen.
Due to the new security measures, observers expect that commercial activities, whether large or small, will be adversely affected. This will also undoubtedly have an impact on the schedule of flights, particularly since many planes take off from Sana’a Airport every day, traveling to Arab and Western capitals, carrying dozens of people in need of medical attention.
Eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that vehicles, particularly trucks carrying goods, vegetables, and fish to the capital, Sana’a, were seen waiting in long lines at city entrances and exits, and were being extensively searched as per the instructions of the Yemeni Interior Ministry. This will have a negative impact upon Yemeni citizens, in their daily work and economic and commercial activities.
In addition to the procedural pressures resulting from security fears, the revelation that Yemen was the source of the parcel bombs has left the average Yemeni feeling persecuted, both at home and abroad.
The citizens of Yemen differ in their views on the latest developments, and the issue of terrorism in general. Subsequently, the ‘parcel bombs’ issue has become the focus of talk in the street, forums, and Khat gatherings. It is also a prominent topic on news websites and internet chat rooms, particularly after the university student, Hanan al-Samawi, was arrested as a suspect. However, she was later released, with Yemeni police sources stating that she was a “victim of identity theft”.
Many Yemenis that spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat believe that the size of the Al-Qaeda network, and how prevalent it is on Yemeni soil, has been greatly exaggerated. Some attribute this ‘exaggeration’ to a hidden American agenda, describing it as a “war on Islam”. Others believe that the Yemeni Government is behind these terrorist operations. However, there are Yemenis that believe it is necessary to continue the war on terrorism, in cooperation with the United States and other countries, most notably Saudi Arabia. This is Yemen’s largest neighboring country, and most members of Al-Qaeda in Yemen are either Yemeni or Saudi citizens.
The citizens of Yemen are fearful that the war on terrorism in Yemen will develop into what is currently taking place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia. They fear the situation will necessitate Western military intervention, in order to fight Al-Qaeda on Yemeni soil. Yemeni concerns are focused on the negative impact, should matters further worsen, mainly in the areas of security and the economy. Yemen is a country where most of its citizens are believed to be armed, and any security imbalance may lead the country into chaos. As for the economic issue, the Yemeni citizen knows that the economy is fragile and that their country is poor; therefore, there is a prevailing belief that terrorism will lead to many crises.