Thursday, December 16, 2010

Probation inquiry shifts to Legislature

Here's a great story on patronage politics in my home state of Massachusetts. The story itself has a lot to reveal, but the comments on the story are actually more revealing. One commenter remarks that this story "will be interesting to watch..... until it disappears," meaning no one will pay the piper (and I agree) and things will be swept 'neath the rug. And quite a few posters take issue with the law firm that intends to represent the "Great and General Court of Massachusetts." The relevant quote follows:

Frongillo’s law firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, has agreed to work for free.

“The requests are for documents,’’ Frongillo, a former federal prosecutor, said yesterday. “It’s possible at some point the US attorney would want people to testify about those documents.’’

Frongillo, who heads the Boston litigation practice of the large international firm, said the law practice agreed to waive its usual fee “out of civic duty’’ and in recognition that the state’s budget crunch has caused widespread program cutbacks.

Many people are outraged - regardless of budgetary constraints on the MA House & Senate - that an expensive law firm (and lawyer) with obvious ties to the public sector would do pro bono work for the Legislature (laughingly out of "civic duty") while residents in true need of legal representation in this state go wanting. I agree.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daniel Martin Varisco shares his thoughts

This past Monday, a 30+ year scholar on Yemen made the case that Yemen is not a Terrorist Factory. Varisco shares the widely held educated view on Yemen, which is that the "Western World" needs to spend more resources creating opportunity in Yemen, not on aiding and abetting the Saleh regime through military appropriations. As his final paragraph suggests, "If we focused more on improving the lives of ordinary Yemenis -- teaching Yemeni engineers how to better use their rapidly diminishing water resources, for example -- there would be no refuge for the homeless terrorists who feed on hate, and millions of Yemeni citizens would have reason to hope."

Monday, August 23, 2010

The U.S. spreads the misery to Yemen

Ambassador Daniel H. Simpson has served US interests mainly in Africa. This article from last week was quite excellent, however.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Master's Thesis

Here’s my Master's thesis, which I defended more than a year ago. I thought I'd post it in the event someone might like to read it. The first couple chapters are pretty ragged, but the paper gets better if you stick with it! I intend to update and edit it in the near future. Happy reading...
Political Islam in Yemen: Whither the Islah Party?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Is Yemen the Next Afghanistan?

The short answer is "no." One should also mention that any story with such a title should be suspect.

That was the title of a recent article in the NYT magazine by Robert Worth on Yemen - the most in-depth reporting I have come across dealing with Yemen in more than a year. I'm hoping to comment more on the article in the near future, but my first reaction was that it was a little too negative and subjective. Robert Worth was also recently interviewed by NPR's Talk of the Nation. You can find a transcript and audio of the story, "The Growing Power of al-Qaida in Yemen," here.

You can also get a good taste of the current political situation in Yemen - and the US involvement -- by checking out Jane Ferguson's video/article on CNN entitled "U.S. Military Picks, Trains Yemeni Fighters."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stability and Development in Yemen: A Regional Approach

Much like the CEFIP's "Yemen on the Brink" series, the Chatham House has recently inaugurated the "Yemen Forum." I have yet to look through all the documents, but Ginny Hill has been an important contributor to Yemeni scholarship recently.

American Barred From Coming Home

Here's an interesting article that ran in the Washington Post yesterday about a U.S. Citizen who has been barred from re-entry into the U.S. as a result of his having studied in Yemen. Of interest was CAIR's comment: "We are concerned that FBI interrogations of American citizens in a condition of forced exile are being conducted without due process," wrote Nihad Awad, the council's executive director. "If the FBI wishes to question American citizens, they should be allowed to return to the United States where they will be able to maintain their constitutional rights free of threats or intimidation."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"The Oath," by Laura Poitras

Stephanie and I were at Coolidge Corner this Saturday to see this documentary which was intended to be a study of Salim Hamdan - a Yemeni who was the former driver to Osama bin Laden held at Guantanamo Bay. Instead, the story revolved around his brother-in-law, Abu Jandal, a former al-Qaeda member and jihadist who was 'reformed' after incarceration in a Yemeni prison from 2000-2002. This documentary is a "must-see." Unfortunately, it only runs at the Coolidge through tomorrow. The show times are here: see it if you can!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes." By Victoria Clark.

So I've recently read the book, which gives Dresch's "A History of Modern Yemen" a run for it's money (albeit Dresch is more scholarly, and his writing more dense). I would recommend the book to anyone with a passing interest in Yemen, as its less than 300 pages addresses the main concerns in Yemen today, as well as gives a good background by providing the last 400 years of history (granted, a thumbnail sketch). For a review by the Economist, click here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Yemen on the Brink"

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is currently doing a four-part paper series on Yemen, two of which have already been published and can be downloaded here. Happy reading!

Nujood & Yemen

I have yet to read the Victoria Clark's book mentioned in this CFR article, but I have read Ali's "I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced" which is a good book on the whole, aside from an incredible amount of poetic license on the part of the ghostwriter (Nujood plans on reading the book for the first time this year).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Politics as Usual

Here's the Gloucester Daily Times printing a story about that city's mayor using Yemen as a false pretext to get more money for her community: Kirk seeks more fed security $$$.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony

A great piece of testimony on Yemen and Al-Qaida presented by Dr. Emile Nakhleh to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 20, 2010. The only problem I have is with his contention that there is “non-existent rule of law” in Yemen (for a great explanation of this assertion's falsity, see Gregory Johnsen’s post at Waq al-Waq).
Of interest is Nakhleh’s belief that the Islah party should be engaged to effect change, something I believe as well: “Although we would continue to engage regimes for national security reasons, the broader engagement should involve indigenous, credible and legitimate religious and political civil society communities that are committed to the welfare of their societies and the well being of their citizens. In Yemen, the Islah Party and private associations in the San’a and Aden regions should be involved. The strategic goal of this engagement is to present Yemeni and other Muslim youth with a more hopeful future vision than the empty promises of al-Qaida.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yemen's biggest port offers gleam of economic hope

Here's a story that speaks to the potential for overcoming the obstacles that contribute to the economic quagmire Yemen finds itself in.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Yemen Natural Gas

As most of you know, Stephanie and I have returned from Arabia Felix as a result of unfortunate news stories in the West that were (and continue to be), to put it fairly, jingoistic.
Earlier in the month there was a news story about the shipment of natural gas from Yemen into Boston Harbor. Unfortunately, local officials like Boston's Mayor Menino made claims of being "unnerved." Anyone who knows anything about Yemen knows that the oil is running out there (they hit "peak oil" in 2002), and that their highest income from natural gas will only approximate 25% of what they received for their oil back in 2002. Put another way, the country is slipping deeper and deeper into poverty, and the only exportable commodity they have is their natural gas. And because there is sufficient natural gas from other markets in the world, most people who took just a moment to think would realize that if just one LNG tanker from Yemen were to be sabotaged, it would have catastrophic consequences on the economy of Yemen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yemen: Qaeda Affiliate Urges Joint Blockade of Red Sea

A glaring omission in this article is that The Yemen-based wing of Al-Qaeda doesn't control the Arabian side of the strait either. Another example of poor reporting by the NYT.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Trip to Manakhah & Al-Hajjarh

This past Friday, Stephanie and I went with Beverly, a YALI teacher, and our boss--Sabri Saleem--to visit the town Sabri grew up in: Manakhah.
As you can see, we had a little trouble getting our car started after stopping by in a small village to have a breakfast of 'foul,' so Sabri decided to take the Mercedes...
From left to right is Beverly, Vincent and Sabri. You can see the door to the roadside restaurant behind the Toyota truck...
The following few shots are from the Highlands of Yemen, looking down into the valleys. We drove down to the base of the mountain range before again climbing back up.
Here we are approaching Sabri's hometown, Manakhah.
Pulling out of Manakhah to head towards Al-Hajjarh, the Mercedes broke down for what would be the first time. Sabri stayed with his car while the rest of us took the "Ottoman Trail." It was a wonderful one-hour walk through (and up) the mountains. (It's called the "Ottoman Trail" as it is the path built by the Ottomans to subjugate the Yemeni Highlanders more than a century ago.)
The preceeding photos (and the next) are of what was once a Jewish village. It was evacuated following Israel's independence in 1948.
Guess who?
Al-Hajjarh in the distance. It was the summer residence of Queen Arwa.
Stephanie getting up close and personal with a herd of goats. Our guide Mohammad is to the right.
Vincent and Beverly on the Ottoman Trail, passing a goatherdess.
A shepherd driving his flock. By far, Stephanie was the most agile in the mountain range apart from our guide.
Now that's a lot of Qat!
Stephanie hamming it up while Mohammed explains to Sabri that we took a short cut to Al-Hajjarh!
Vincent and Beverly bringing up the rear.
We're close now!
At the city limits...
The city of Al-Hajjarh.
The city overlooks a valley that is quite green in the summer.
The city's Jewish quarter. Also evacuated after 1948.
A couple young residents...
Stephanie's photos: a baby heymar (donkey).
Heading up another mountain to get some lunch. Only Mohammad's family lived on this particular mountain with his wife and four kids.
Three of Mohammad's four children.
"Bayt Mohammad."
An excavation site for the future summer home of Sabri Saleem.
Picturesque mountain scenes...
Bayt Mohammad.
One of his sons peeking from the doorway...
Political Party emblems. The one on top (sun) is for the Islah party, the other (horse) is for the ruling party, the GPC.
Broken down by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Most Yemenis stopped to help us, but we were determined to get Sabri's Mercedes back to Sana'a. A two-hour trip from the city, it took us more than four hours to return!
Twilight in the Yemeni Highlands!