Now it has been over 22 months, or almost 2 years since civil war broke in my country, Yemen, the poorest state in the Middle East. A war that savagely kidnapped the lives of thousands of civilians, as the latest UN reports confirmed the death toll to rise over 10,000, and wounded to about 50,000, including all but civilians. However, these casualties cannot yet be considered the worst thing the war has caused in Yemen. Malnutrition, starvation, epidemic diseases, the rise of suicide rates, and reports of over 2 million internal displacement are some of the other catastrophic consequences of the ongoing civil war. Thus, helpless and distressed Yemeni civilians have nothing in hand but to lament our shattered country and question if it could be possible again to reconcile, and live all together peacefully after a merciless war.
For many, the war broke out in March 2015, but our reality showed us something else. It actually began earlier in September 2014 when the Shiite Houthis rebels seized Sana’a for weeks and then forcefully had President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi sign a deal to share power. Since then, Houthi militants had a strong grip on the governing authorities and left President Hadi under house arrest in his presidential palace with no power of command. Yemen’s military forces proved they had no loyalty to the president. On the contrary, as media reports later exposed, they received their orders from the former president Ali Abdullah Salah who is an ally with Houthis. The goal was to oust Hadi from power. A few months later, Hadi resigned and remained detained for weeks before managing, in late February 2015, to flee from Sana’a to Aden city where he reclaimed power amid international recognition as a legitimate president and concerns over anticipated violence. Hadi’s rescinding resignation infuriated Houthi rebels and their allies, Saleh’s loyalists, and prompted them a month later to invade the southern cities of Yemen that declared defying Shiite rebels and fighting in support of what they described ‘defending the legitimate president’. It took only a few days for Houthi militants and their allies to take over southern cities and advance toward Aden, where they would capture their opponent, president Hadi and ‘put an end to his regime.’ 25 March 2015 marked the day Yemen’s president fled through the sea to Saudi Arabia, our neighboring country. In response, Saudi Arabia led a 10 country coalition and intervened to restore Hadi’s power and stop the expansion of the Shiite Houthi rebels, who always boasted their strong ties with Iran.
Since then, constant fighting spread all over the country and it is still continuing. We have reached into a point that it matters not who or how this war has weakened either warring party. This war has ravaged our country and has taken it to the verge of famine and absolute failure. More pain and misery keep knocking on our doors as we impatiently and helplessly call for ending the war to rescue our withering souls. Like me, hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have similar and different reasons to raise their voices against this devastating conflict. I want the war to end in the hope that my friend, Nader Al Salahi, be released from detention, and receive proper treatment to recover and regain sanity.
My friend Nader is 28 years old, he is a human rights activist and an ambitious university student. His newly deciphered and coded words, aptly depict and summarize our suffering. A year ago, Nader, would not have been capable of giving the right picture like now. Simply, he was then free and living like any normal human being wandering this world to find peace, tranquility and better life.
Nader had always impressed almost everyone with his writing skills; he created ethos with his descriptions of his love of people and enthusiasm of life. However, he has had two fatal flaws; first, Nader wrote in a manner that was too peaceful. A total contrast to President Trump. I would say Nader did not even dare to watch a wrestling game on TV, as he did not feel comfortable to witness the violent broadcast. The second flaw was that he writes articles as an advocate of human rights and nothing else. Yes, this later defect outraged Houthi rebels in Sana’a who kidnapped him while he was eating lunch in a restaurant in Sana’a the capital. A few strokes of his pen about human right violations sent him to detention. For several months, all searches of where he went did not succeed. His mother’s health was deteriorating. But her desperate prayers worked after 8 months of his disappearance. His family was called and ordered to send his younger brother to visit him at detention. There is no need in this context to describe the feelings of my friend’s family. His brother paid him a visit but Nader was no longer Nader! Nader, as his brother describes, could barely move or stand. He named himself ‘Abdul Rahman’. It was clear, saying the overwhelmed brother, that Nader was severely, or rather brutally tortured; he lost his sanity. Nader or as he now likes to be called ‘Abdul Rahman’ is still detained. Even with his critical health condition and total loss of awareness, it is not enough for him to be released. For him, it makes no difference. He knows or could recognize no one. Even when he speaks, his words come as spells that might be carrying or echoing their counterparts in Greek mythology.
My old friend Nader, or the newly afflicted Abdul Rahman is one of the people here in Yemen who can tell the world a part of the horrible atrocities we face. I am sure, he could also, by his coded utterance, draw the world’s attention to the calamities the Saudi-led airstrikes caused by targeting so many civilians who were turned into ashes. No doubt, by his own way or new language, my friend could explain that all employees in the public sector have not received their pay for about 6 months, and famine is horribly looming. I used to know my friend very well, and I am sure that, in his new dying voice and character, his new words or message can be best interpreted as follows:
“Stop this war now for the sake of reviving and rescuing the fallen apart state, or lament not very soon hearing of the starvation and death of thousands of people while you are watching.”