SANA'A // Several members of parliament criticised the government yesterday, holding it responsible for the growing deterioration of the security situation in the country, after a battle between southern movement supporters and government troops left 22 killed and 47 wounded in the southern province of Abyan last week. "The ministry of interior is responsible for the security situation deterioration. I do feel that some parts of the country are no longer under the control of the government," said Sultan al Barakani, head of the ruling People's General Congress caucus in the parliament, referring to Sa'ada in the north.
Rashad al Alimi, deputy prime minister for security and defence affairs, said the government is facing serious security challenges represented by the terrorism activities. "There are three major security challenges we are facing at the moment. The first one, al Qa'eda, still represents a major security challenge. The government is raising awareness about the hazards of extremism as well as addressing educating the people influenced by the ideology of al Qa'eda," he said.
"The second challenge is the rebellion in some districts of the province of Sa'ada; it is serious and is expanding to other districts This is a result of the loose security caused by the uprising." Nine foreigners were kidnapped in Sa'ada in June. The bodies of three were found three days later while the rest are still missing. Mr al Alimi said the third challenge is dealing with the sabotage and motorway robbery activities in the south as he urged the parliament to endorse anti-terrorism and firearms laws.
Yemen troops have been battling al Houthi rebels intermittently in the northern province of Sa'ada despite a truce agreed to by President Ali Abdullah Saleh last July. Several soldiers were killed in clashes with the rebels last week. "The rebels continue to violate the peace deal in Shejar, Suhar and al Safra districts. The rebels set some ambushes for the security and military men which killed a number of them. We are respecting the president's decision. The rebels are making violations and we are trying to calm down the situation. But, they should know there is a limit for our patience," said Mutahar al Masri, interior minister.
The situation in the south is no less tense than the north. Salem Haidarah, an MP from Abyan, said two citizens were still missing from Thursday's fighting. "Had we been in another country, the government should have resigned instead of coming to parliament with false information. The situation in Abyan is so serious, " said Mr Haidarah, who belongs to the ruling party bloc. Some opposition MPs supported Mr Haidarah notion that government should resign.
Aidarous al Nakeeb, head of the caucus of the opposition socialist party in parliament, said security solutions will not solve the southern problems. "The government is fascinated by the security solutions to the problems in the south while it is of political background. Security solutions might repress angry protesters and kill some of them but will not sort out the problem. It is a political problem and a consequence of the 1994 war which resulted in looting the land and marginalisation of the south," Mr al Nakeeb said. "Yemen is now at a crossroads and needs national reconciliation and dialogue involving all relevant people and the partners of the unity.
"But, stubborn positions from the government will lead to a similar stand from the other side which will serve the people calling for separation. Both projects are fruitless. We have to look for a new project to build a state of law and order and respect of equal partnership and citizenship." email@example.com