Yemeni fever

Yemeni fever is everywhere at the moment and while there is a lot of reactionary talk there is also a lot of great commentary being written so here is a short list of some of the stuff that I have recently come across:

Sean over at the Human Province has produced some great posts on Yemen lately (see here and here). He created a list of fantastic articles on Yemen ; I particularly recommend the articles by Fred Haliday who I am a huge fan of. The article that Sean links to is about his book Arabia Without Sultans that he wrote in the 70s and although not really about Yemen it is a article on the essential issues of the region. Haliday has written elsewhere specifically about Yemen: Yemen Travails of Unity. This is a fantastic article that he did in June 09 that pretty much predicts the fever pitch over Yemen that has occurred over the recent weeks:

Barack Obama – and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton – may at present think that they have no reason to think about Yemen. But it has held surprises before: for its Arab neighbours, for America, and for the world. It may well do again. Indeed, it has. Yemen is in trouble, and needs the world’s constructive and engaged attention as never before.

Marc Lynch has written a extensive piece on his blog warning the public  not to get too excited over Yemen. As he puts it:

Direct American military intervention in Yemen is so obviously ludicrous that it shouldn’t even need to be said.

Even the usual imperialist war mongers in the US are not beating the drum for war at the moment but it could of course start at any time. Lynch also has a series of great links in the article. In particular the horribly titled think tank The Centre for a New American Security (I cringe every time I say that title so writing it is painful!) has done an extensive briefing paper on Yemen that is worth a dip into but far to military heavy for my lefty heart. Lynch also links to Joost R. Hiltermann of the ICG who writes an interesting piece on Saudi’s war on Yemen. The best bit of the piece is the hip-hop inspired title “Disorder on the Border”! But Hiltermann also makes some beautiful rhetorical sweeps that get right to the heart of the problem:

The conflict can only be permanently solved by addressing the social, political, and religious grievances that motivate the rebels — not by defeating them on the battlefield. In fact, sending soldiers (whether they be Yemeni, Saudi, or even tribal) and opening a new front would likely further destabilize Yemen, causing chaos that would be costly for all: al Qaeda would find fertile ground, and hundreds of thousands of refugees would put pressure on the borders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, risking a humanitarian disaster. Many Yemenis resent the Saudis, whom they often portray as opportunistic and corrupt, and the more Saudi support the Yemeni government receives, the more domestic legitimacy it loses. Foreign backing only makes Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih’s government appear more incapable of effectively ruling the country.

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1 comment
  1. Diogo said:

    Great post! Im going to check all these websites when I have a little time to breath. Meanwhile, I would just like to say that having spent four months in yemen in 2008, it is amazing that the US and the world have taken so long to wake up to the situation in the country. I was there the day the Al Saleh mosque (named after the Abdullah Saled, The President) was officially opened to the public (http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/yemen/huge-mosque-inaugurated-in-sana-a-1.144395) and will never forget how the military just occupied the streets with tanks, campaign vehicles and all kinds of artillery. The people just stayed at home – not for a religious reason, but for fear of what might happen on that day. Indeed, just a few days later, a bomb was throw in one of the buses that I, like thousands of Yemenis, used to take every morning to work – killing five people. Yet, that failed too to make it to the international news outlets.
    One more thing, I think that we cannot fully grasp the complexity of the Yemeni situation without taking into consideration the refugee community in the country. In 2008, a record number of African refugees, mainly Somali, Ethiopian and Erithrean, crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen (http://www.yobserver.com/local-news/10017800.html). Their conditions are miserable and fast deteriorating, especially for ethiopians, who are not granted asylum upon arrival and must then remain illegal in the country or travel accross the border to Saudi Arabia. Militant organisations know this and they take advantage of the refugees’ despair to recruit them as foot soldiers in exchange for food, money and security from the Yemeni police. Well, its a long story that Id like to discuss at length but, really, have to run now!

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