Published On: Sun, May 17th, 2015

Yemen tribesmen ban khat in city overrun by al-Qaida militants


emeni men chew the narcotic at their shop in the main Khat market in Sana’a. Photograph: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters/Corbis

Yemen (ANN/The guardian) Group allied with regional Islamist branch that overran Mukalla last month say users of the traditonal drug will be held responsible under sharia law.
Tribesmen in Yemen have imposed a ban on the drug khat in a southern port city overrun by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula last month.

The tribe, who are allied with the regional Islamist branch and refer to themselves as Sons of Hadramawt, distributed pamphlets in Mukalla warning that chewing the leafy plant is banned and that violators will be “held fully responsible under sharia law”.

Yemeni men traditionally chew khat for several hours starting around midday, stuffing their cheeks with the leaves and letting the narcotic dissolve in their saliva. At these daily khat-chewing sessions, Yemenis recline on cushions, listen to traditional music, exchange gossip and engage in debates.

Pictures posted on social media showed tribesmen setting fire to piles of green leaves in the streets while others armed with assault rifles halted trucks carrying the plants and turned them away from the city.

Khat cultivation consumes 30% of the extremely scarce water resources in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, and cuts into the production of other crops.

“Khat is a problem either way,” said Salem Dayan, a merchant in Mukalla. “If you ban it, people will have nothing to do to kill time, and if you lift the ban, you bring back the financial burden on your family.”
A person can spend from £3 to more than £30 on khat in a single session. Retired teacher Ahmed Basalma welcomed the ban, saying the drug “ruined lives and wrecked whole families”. But he conceded addicts would likely find a way around it.

Awad bin Dagher, a government employee, said there are no recreational alternatives to the drug. “We have nothing but the seafront,” he said. “I can’t imagine my life without khat.”

Khat is banned in the US and most European countries. It was banned in Britain in 2013.
Araweelo News Network
Somaliland Office
Twitter: Arraale M Jama @Araweelonews.

About the Author

- #Arraale Mohamoud Jama is a freelance journalist and human rights activist with more than 20 years of experience as a professional journalist and human rights activist, as well as a writer and investigative journalist on a wide range of topics related to social issues, human rights, politics and security, economics, democracy, and good governance. He has written extensively on regional and international events, and has worked Somaliland newspapers, and Human rights organization. In 2008, he created the website #Araweelo #News #Network, and is based in Somaliland and is currently managing it; #Arraale is a specialist in investigating and reporting on human rights, democracy, security, and good governance issues. Contact: Send an SMS or MMS to + 252 63 442 5380 + 252 63 442 5380 /

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