'Vast majority of Yemeni tribesmen' reject terrorism, Houthis
Yemen's future security is linked to its political and economic stability, according to Sheikh Mufareh Buhaibeh, a leader of the Murad tribe -- one of the country's largest -- and a prominent figure in Marib province.
The vast majority of Yemeni tribesmen reject extremism and terrorism in all forms, he told Al-Mashareq in a wide-ranging interview.
But in order to enhance security, he said, military training programmes must be improved, security personnel equipped with modern weapons and security agencies supplied with the necessary resources.
This will raise their level of competence and help them to tackle security threats more effectively, he said.
Maj. Gen. Buhaibeh commands the 26th Infantry Brigade, which is fighting the Houthis (Ansarallah) in the Bihan region of Shabwa province in support of the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Buhaibeh said he has taken up arms to protect the gains of a unified Yemen.
Al-Mashareq: What is your assessment, as a leader of the Murad tribe, of the security situation in Yemen at the national and tribal levels?
Sheikh Mufareh Buhaibeh: We are currently unable to assess the security situation in Yemen because the Yemeni state and all its organs have collapsed.
Yemen entered into an internecine war as a result of the coup mounted by the Houthi and Saleh militias against the legitimate government. This thrust the country into a phase in which security is lacking and stability is undermined to an extent that is the most serious in the modern history of Yemen.
This Iranian-backed coup finished off what was left of the state and thrust Yemen into a dangerous phase under the direct planning and supervision of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who vacated power as stipulated by the Gulf initiative after ruling for more than three decades.
This man vacated power in appearance only, however, as he is still in control of security institutions and army units, which he has turned from organs that protect the Yemeni state to organs that serve his personal interests. He has put these institutions into the hands of the Houthis, the agent of a foreign power, which has pointed its weapons at the chests of the Yemeni people.
As a consequence, government employees no longer receive salaries, the circle of poverty has widened, corruption has become rampant, hunger has spread and the education system has collapsed, as has the health care system.
The country slipped into a dangerous quagmire, necessitating immediate intervention by brotherly Arab forces. The legitimate government, with the backing of the Arab coalition, was able to form a national army that is currently at the gates of Sanaa. The national army, backed by the coalition, also was able to purge al-Mukalla of al-Qaeda.
The legitimate authorities are exerting great efforts to establish security in the liberated areas, despite the vicious war being waged by Saleh's forces, which are trying very hard to undermine security in government-controlled areas.
As for the security status of the tribe, it is known that in the absence of the state, the tribes of Yemen handle their own affairs according to their customs, norms and traditions, and Murad tribesmen have a high level of awareness, owing to the heavy involvement of the tribe’s sons in military service.
Al-Mashareq: What is the role of the international community in helping Yemen put an end to the war?
Buhaibeh: We call on the international community, including the UN Security Council, to fulfill its moral duty, namely the full and effective implementation of the “three references” agreed upon by all Yemenis [the Gulf initiative, the National Dialogue Conference and UN resolution 2216], to support the recognised, legitimate government and its national army and put an end to the coup mounted by the Houthis and Saleh's supporters.
The international community also should help the legitimate government deal with the devastating effects of the war that have exhausted Yemenis and deprived them of their basic rights, in order to achieve sustainable development and create an atmosphere that is conducive to decent living.
It also must support the government in tackling unemployment, a byproduct of the war, as well as the chronic economic deprivation, and in healing the social rifts that resulted from the war waged by the Houthis.
It must help strengthen the rule of law to ensure the establishment of a strong democratic system based on equal justice. Under such a system, wealth and resources can be redistributed, and all the basic needs of the individual can be met in a balanced way that enables him to give, build and stay away from hostile behaviour and acts inherent in the phenomenon of terrorism.
This must be done in a way that builds mutual trust between the citizen and the state on one hand, and the citizen and members of the community on the other.
Al-Mashareq: What is most needed on the local level to enhance security in general and within the tribe?
Buhaibeh: If political and economic stability can be established, the local need to enhance security would be lessened, and this in turn will carry over to the tribe, because it is a large part of the population. The achievement of stability would help us all -- including higher and local authorities and supporting organisations -- work towards supporting comprehensive reform programmes. This will achieve stability of living conditions and ensure the resumption of education in all disciplines, and have a positive impact on the security situation.
Security is linked to political and economic stability as well as stable living conditions, and it is necessary to raise the level of awareness, particularly in remote or rural tribal areas, in order to fortify society against destructive ideas.
Al-Mashareq: How do you assess the success of the legitimate government in defeating the Houthis, and how can these victories be increased?
Buhaibeh: The state of affairs reached by the legitimate authority is good, as the national army currently holds the initiative and the legitimate government now controls a large part of the country after expelling the militia from it.
We know full well that our opponent possesses the capabilities and resources of a state and has very deep organs that enable him to act. But the legitimate government is determined to move forward in order to eliminate the killing and destruction machine that has devastated this country.
Despite the difficult circumstances, the legitimate government has been able to pay the salaries of employees and pensioners that were plundered by the militia’s gangs. The legitimate government exists and is supported by the Yemeni people inside the country, and the region and the international community abroad. It just needs additional assistance to set things in order in the liberated areas and begin reconstruction and mine removal.
Al-Mashareq: What is your vision for creating a better future for Yemen?
Buhaibeh: Yemen’s future is tied to the surrounding Gulf and Arab region and lies in the implementation of UN resolution 2216 and moving forward with the implementation of the articles of the Gulf initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, as well as the implementation of all of the articles of the "Six-Region Federation" project.