The list of tragedies to which Yemen has been subject is long; the Houthi rebellion, Al-Qaeda’s activities, the southern separation movement, and now the banning of air flights. Following the detection of US-bound explosive packages coming from Yemen, some countries blocked cargo planes coming from the country, and some countries halted receiving all kinds of air flights, whether direct or indirect, banning the flights from landing or even entering their air space.
Traditionally, states have been keen to protect themselves from foreign dangers, putting guards along their borders and customs at their ports, but this is not enough anymore. Countries now have to secure others from threats coming from their territories. Yemen has failed to stop Al-Qaeda members travelling from Yemen to world capitals, and has failed to stop explosive devices doing the same, so the world retaliated by banning air flights, and more is yet to come.
The ban imposed on Yemen is not surprising, but rather a result of a long series of terrorist attacks that trace back to Yemen: the Nigerian Omar Farouk who tried to bomb an airplane heading to Detroit last year; the Jordanian Nidal Hassan who killed unarmed US soldiers at an army base in Texas; and the attack on USS Cole some years ago. Operatives who executed these attacks started off in — or received orders from — Yemen. Yemen has become a danger to others, and others are protecting themselves from Yemen. In both cases, Yemenis pay the price.
The concept of security has changed; a country has become responsible of it and others’ security, at least by trying to prevent its soil from being a source of threat for others. This includes the activities of terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda, drug cartels, substandard commodities and illegal immigrants. The condition in Yemen has become as bad as it can be, but countries that export less violent dangers can also find themselves at some point victim of isolation measures imposed by those affected, so we must pay attention as well.