Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Do NOT Feel Safe

If you ask people what their greatest fear is, they will come up with all sorts of various fears. Maybe the one thing all fears have in common is what comes after fear itself. We all have to face our greatest fears at some point, but no matter how different our nightmares are, the next step is the same. We all look forward to change. Therefore, my only fear is losing the ability to look forwards to a better tomorrow. Being 24, I know that my short life saves me a lot of blame. I was not even born when so many causes of what I have to deal with today occurred. And even later, as a child I watched the picture I am in getting torn apart gradually by different powers. Now that I have been working really hard to learn about the different mechanisms of historical dialectic change, I know that ups and downs are inevitable so this is not really the issue..  The issue is that a generation emerged to find that not only they have to carry the burdens they inherited from their parents’ and grand parents’ mistakes, but also deal with the greatest fear anyone can encounter: Nothing more to look forward to.
I do have a long list of challenges. A bill I am paying on behalf of two generations’ bad decision making. Well… I don’t mind. I do not mind making the needed sacrifices to regain what was either sold, neglected or wasted during the past 30 years. I do not have a problem fighting on two fronts; the front of liberation and the other for my rights as a woman. However, and if you look deep into history, people do not lose when they fight for their rights. People lose when they are deprived from fighting for what they deserve.
Two days ago, on a HuffPostLive segment I was in, I found myself repeating what everyone around me has been saying. I said I do NOT feel safe. And unlike most people, this is not about what I have to lose. It is about how more and more confined I become as it gets clearer that this country is ruled by the whole world except its own people. I am scared of not having the ability to fight for my rights like other people in other places since every time Yemenis give everything they have for change, leaders of the region and the world suffocate it all by secret deals with politicians whom we are all invisible to. 

Politicians in general and Saleh in specific in my country have sold everything. They sold lands, islands, oil, arts and people. I still remember Saleh’s interview on AlArabiya in 2011 when he said that the uprisings are plots and conspiracies, which represent foreign interference in the country. After he said that, he was asked about US drone strike and how he does not consider that foreign interference; he said: “Drones come from the sky! How would I have control over that!!”

I  can go on and on for hours telling stories of Saudi Arabia’s investment in over 300 tribal sheikhs who  have been receiving salaries for years in return of their loyalty to Saudi Arabia. I can talk about how Saleh and Al-Ahmars sold Najran, Jayzan and Aseer to Saudi Arabia.  I can elaborate on how after 1994, Saudi Arabia invested in fundamental movements as well as the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, Islah, in order to turn south Yemen into a medieval arena for religious extremists after it once had the most advanced constitution and set of progressive laws with so many advances in aviation, judiciary, women’s rights, media and economy. I can describe how the third most important sea port in the world became deserted in Aden after Saleh’s secret deal with DADPC in Dubai. And of course, I can shed some light on Iran’s investments in the northern Shiite Hashemite families and how they are more than happy to have their pending war with Saudi Arabia through poor Yemenis killing each other on behalf of both countries. But of all the above, there is one thing I do not tolerate with the most: US counter terrorism policy in Yemen.

I do not expect backward theocratic tyrannies like Saudi Arabia and Iran to respect my people’s struggle.   Yet, when the American embassy in Sana’a keeps on sending Yemeni youth to the US to learn “Democracy” and when I listen to the American ambassador in Sana’a ramble about the same aspirations he looked down on last year, I really want to vomit. 

A month ago, I was in Strasbourg participating in the World Democracy Forum, a huge event that cost the EU an enormous amount of money bringing political leaders from all over the world to speak about democracy. After three days of nonsense, hypocrisy and nothing useful at all, the final speech was by Ms. Nawal Al-Saadawi. When the fearless Egyptian feminist and freedom maker held the microphone, I was shaken to the ground since the very first sentence: “Stop talking about democracy when because of you we do not have justice!”

The same US that gave us today’s Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo is lecturing us about democracy. The same US that holds the 1% Wall Street monster is selling us democracy. The same US that embraced those dictators whom Hillary Clinton tours in the region to congratulate us for kicking out is now “Helping” us to be democratic.

How is killing a 16 year old American boy, AbdulRahman Al-Awlaki,one week after assassinating his father without a trial democratic? How can killing 48 civilians in Al Maajla achieve democracy? How do drone strikes every month killing targets without trials, and most of the time missing targets and killing random civilians go with the MEPI scholarships Yemeni are sent to the Washington through to study democracy?

On the first day of Obama’s new period in office a couple of weeks ago, a US drone strike hit a village 40 minutes away from where I live. The family of the killed “Suspect” is wondering: “Why wasn’t he taken alive?” and at the same time, I know the answer.. Obama never apologized for killing a Yemeni American child who had Jim Morrison’s hair and a great passion for pop music and Play Station games only because his father was Al-Qaeda suspect who never had his right to legal trial, so to Obama the kid made a potential terrorist. White House counter terrorism adviser, John Brennan, said that drone strikes are ethical on the same day a US drone strike missed a target in Radaa and ended up killing 13 civilians a couple of months ago.  And of course the democracy teacher of the world has a lawless prison where Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni detainee atthe American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, died due to an overdose last month.

Dear America,
Democracy is the result of social justice, equal opportunities and people’s right to determine their own fate. Also, terrorism is the extreme movements Saudi Arabia, your major alliance in the region, funded for years. When you saw how personal freedoms were attacked and the features of the civic Yemen we once had were slowly suffocated, you did not utter a word. Now, with 70% of the population being poor and hungry, you wonder why people might join violent movements. And how do you fight people’s desperation? You simply shower them with missiles and drone strikes to make them have to choose between dying out of hunger or your strikes.  Dear America, as Howard Zinn says: “How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?”  Had you invested the limitless amount of money you have been spending on weapons to build people roads, schools and hospitals nobody would be left to want to die in a bombing. Had you stopped supporting Saleh and corrupt civil society organizations, Yemen could have benefited from foreign aid more than the more villas and cars government officials and civil society elitists have been accumulating.

My greatest fear has never been death, prison or hunger. My greatest fear is taking away my right to fight against those. This is what foreign policy is doing in Yemen and this is why I do NOT feel safe.

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