Shark Market of Al-Hodeidah

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©  Robert Harding                                                  A Great Hammerhead Shark    Simply couldn’t face an image of the market. So much death, so little hope

For the longest time, this Blogos has wanted to talk about Yemen: the aching tragedy, the annihilating trauma, the febrile waste, the biblically inexhaustible march of plagueful horror.

At the port of Al-Hodeidah there once was a shark market. Mebbie there still is? If you went, first thing in the morning, you’d find a tennis court sized space the floor of which would be strewn with shark carcasses. The defiance of their dead eyes seeped out sightlessly, a dismal, undignified end for such unstooping creatures.

Grey and Whitetipped Reef are shorter than Scalloped Hammerheads which, in turn are shorter than the Tiger Shark: all lay as individuals in a shattering anxiety of death. The excruciating continuation of that image, observed twenty-five years ago between the first Gulf War and their second civil war, ricochets through the mind now, given this unending, unyielding belligerence of Yemen’s warring, autonomy-craving factions.

Huth, a small town west of the Sana’a to Sa’dah highway, was a feisty place back then. But it wasn’t murderous. How did it transform into a crucible of reaction?

When individuals are denied their inalienable right to a dignified life, it grates the spirit. That rough exterior can’t be soothed with liniment.

It seems, in the case of Houthi’s rebels (inspired by dissident Zaidi cleric Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi) who assassinated Ali Abdullah Salleh on their way trying to rid the country of Saudi, Jordanian, Moroccan and US forces, that their only hope is for dignity in death.

But as the sharks could show, lack of life removes possibility of redemption.

The port is a lifeline for a population drowning in misfortune. The North produces Qat and little else while the South is fertile if cultivated. War has severed all conceivable arteries of assistance.

If peace is to settle over this extraordinary country and fiercely tribal, bewildered people, all foreign military interests have to leave … them in peace. If this happens, (notwithstanding the Cholera, child mortality, poverty, absence of infrastructure, furiously vested interests) the Yemenis will sort it out for themselves: Insha’Allah.

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