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Water vs. Guns

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

An article in the New York Times posed the question, “Is Yemen the Next Afghanistan?”  

It talked about murder, terrorism, corruption, bin Laden, and missiles belonging to American Cowboys. And it very briefly mentioned that Yemen may soon be the first country in the world to run out of water. So what issue takes priority? Water or guns? 

Apparently Yemen continues to tick over on a day-to-day basis without “exploding into rebellion” because the majority of men are completely off their pickle on opiate drugs. “Police officers sit down and ignore their posts, a green dribble running down their chins. Taxi drivers get lost and drive in circles, babbling into their cellphones.” In other parts of the country, “every able-bodied man” cruises around with an AK-47 or rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. People live in areas where they cannot work or attend school without the constant fear of being killed. Which perhaps puts being thirsty into perspective. But would water security help stem aggression and encourage peace? 

You don’t have to be too much of a God-Botherer to know that the Bible says, “Love your enemies… If your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink.” (Romans 12:20) This concept appears to be based upon the notion that God will sort out the rest. However without personally having access to God’s Day Planner, I cannot exactly pinpoint when this peer mediation will occur. Therefore a carefully regimented balance exists between using airstrikes and raids to help the Yemeni military knock out Al Qaeda cells, while increasing development and humanitarian aid to address the root causes of radicalism.” 

Interestingly, it seems the enemy often does possess enough money to alleviate aspects of their own poverty if they wanted to. But instead they choose guns. In 1994 bin Laden provided millions of dollars' worth of arms, along with hundreds of fighters, to help repress some “godless socialists” in Yemen. Allah only knows where those resources came from. But obviously someone, at some point, decided, “You know, I don’t think I will dedicate these funds to stimulating the Yemeni economy this year... Let them drink Coke."

In contrast to the topic of the New York Times article, French filmmakers and journalists Yann Le Gleau and Sebastien Mesquida visited Yemen to draw attention to the underreported water crisis. An interview with them was published on the “Yemen Times” website, in which they promoted Yemen as a beautiful tourist destination and stated, “The people of Yemen are very, very friendly people… very kind and wise… they were very nice to us.” Considering many tourists have been killed and kidnapped in Yemen (and the tour guides giggle and say, “They discovered Islam”) I would have to agree that Yemen is not quite ready for tourism at this point.

A fellow reader of the Yemen Times called “Nipa” (short for Sniper?) agreed by writing to the two filmmakers: “are you mad… if you want to make a real film about the state of yemen go up north where you will find 300.000 disbanded women and children suffering from the war in saada, then you will feel it you moron, not filming a women with a damn bucket in her hand… it isnt a nice place to be i tell you, the landscape is as dead as the moon… you goon” 

The filmmakers wanted to draw attention to the water shortage in Yemen because it is not as well known, as say, water shortages in African nations. However, the idea of helping a nation suffering from a water shortage is, on the whole, so much more attractive if you can do so without the volatile risk of being blown up by a suicide bomber.

The world should pay attention to water shortages, maybe even more so in regions that are violent and unstable. But if the nation in need cannot commit to choosing water over guns themselves, and we continue to “feed” them without progress, we could be in for a very long war.  

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