Above is a shop in the weapons markets of Jihana in southeastern Sanaa governorate in the Kawlan tribal area. The store sells guns, grenades, rocket launchers, and land mines.
Under Saleh, the tribal areas were given special qat-related privileges as part of their compact with the government. Qat taxes were lowered in some areas, while territories of certain allied tribes -- the Sanhan, Hamdan, and Bilad Ar-Rus areas, for example -- were freed from qat taxes altogether. Import restrictions were placed on Ethiopian qat, while subsidies were provided for the irrigation equipment and diesel that farmers need for qat production.
But the incomes from the now-subsidized qat industry have helped undermine central government authority in these tribal areas. Qat money has helped these regions build up true tribal armies, equipped with heavy weaponry. The money also frees tribal areas from dependence on the patronage system that the regime relies on so heavily for governing leverage in other parts of the country.
Peer Gatter/The Politics of Qat