Monday, November 7, 2011

The Arabian Leopard Continues to be Under Threat

I'd like to reproduce an email I received from FPALY Executive Director David Stanton this morning, and ask that you take a few minutes from your day as he requests and do a couple of simple things that will be helpful:

Dear Friends of the Arabian Leopard,

It has just been brought to my attention that a video of an Arabian Leopard captured in Yemen was posted on YouTube on May 28, 2011:

The animal being tormented in the video is one of the most critically endangered mammals on Earth (up to 16 times rarer than the Giant Panda and 30 times rarer than the Bengal Tiger). As Yemen's National Animal (as of Yemen Cabinet decree on April 29, 2008) this animal should be fully protected by law. From the video it is obvious that the law is not working. Can you please take ten minutes from your day at the first opportunity to perform the following actions: 1) Watch the video and click "dislike" so that the person who posted the video, and everyone who subsequently watches it, begins to get the message that what the video depicts is unacceptable. 2) Write a message to Mr. Omer Ahmed Baeshen (, Director of the Endangered Species Unit of the Yemen Environmental Protection Authority and the CITES officer for Yemen demanding that the Endangered Species Unit at the EPA fully investigate this "incident." 3) Encourage your friends, family, colleagues, students etc. to do the same. 4) If you are Yemeni and can tell from the accents, clothing or any other clues the governorate where this took place, contact me immediately with this information. It is impossible to tell at this point when and where the video was taken, but knowing where and when it was captured will contribute to the effectiveness of future actions on the part of the Foundation.

Thank you. I'm sorry to have had to bring this to your attention, but devoting just a few minutes to these tasks right away will contribute in a meaningful way to the battle that the Foundation continues to fight. Sincerely, David

David B. Stanton Executive Director of the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen P.O. Box 7069 Sana'a, Republic of Yemen Mobile: +967733916928 Fax: +9671370193

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yemeni Activist Awarded Nobel Prize

Tawakul Karman, Democracy activist and member of Islah, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Yesterday. Great news that I hope will bring more attention to the plight of the average Yemeni.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen - Success!

As Stephanie first noted on our blog here, the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen (FPALY) has been running a funding drive via Kickstarter this month. If you gave, I'll bet you received the email reproduced below from David Stanton, FPALY's Executive Director.

But just because FPLAY met their minimum goal doesn't mean that advocacy for this funding drive needs to stop. As David mentions, there are other projects moving forward that he would like to pursue, and there are administrative costs to running the FPALY office. Please continue to give right up to 11:59PM on September 30th!

FPALY's Kickstater webpage is located here. Thanks to everyone who found FPALY here and gave!

Dear Night Watch Backers

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yemen needs more from allies than status quo

A great National editorial today:

The money quote: "Short-sighted security goals may play well with American voters, but they get Yemenis nowhere." The fact is that American voters are largely unaware of what is happening in Yemen. If they knew, it wouldn't sit well with them either.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Is Anybody Listening?!?!

Marc Lynch has just published an article in Foreign Policy called "The Costs of Ignoring Yemen." Sadly, I think the USG will continue to ignore Yemen, as the costs incurred by the current administration are negligible.

Today, Sana'a International Airport was closed for the first time since demonstrations began early in the year. Yesterday, Yemeni security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with anti-aircraft weaponry.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Support FPALY's Nightwatch Project

David Stanton and the Foundation for the Protection of the Yemeni Leopard are fundraising to establish a nightwatch project in Amran. David says, "Following our success in eastern Yemen we plan on using camera traps to establish the existence of leopard populations in other parts of Yemen. This project will focus on Wada'a, Amran, a tribal area to the north of Yemen's capital Sana'a where we have good reason to believe that the Arabian leopard still roams... $15,000 will enable us to purchase 10 high output trail cameras with security cases, batteries and charger, a GPS, netbook, external backup drive, and solar charging panels and provide Ibrahim and his assistant with all the support that they will need to keep this project going for a full year." Show your support and pledge today! FPALY needs to raise $15,000 by September 30, to secure funding for the project. Pledges start at $1 - any and all amounts are appreciated!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yemen’s Leader Vows to Return Soon and Defies Calls for His Ouster

Wow! This is such exciting news!

Yemeni Opposition Groups Establish National Governing Council

You know, just because the opposition says it's going to establish a council doesn't mean they will. This must be the hundredth or so announcement of this type out of Yemen in the last 100 days.

Anyone else getting tired of this?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yemeni Air Force Bombs Yemeni Republican Guard

As reported by the Yemen Post:
“The government did not stand quiet when the guards refused orders to clash with tribes and officials in the republican guards felt it was necessary that those who disobey orders are killed,” the official said.
The big question, however, is whether the pilots were Yemeni or, as reported, Iraqi mercenaries doing the regime's dirty work.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Releases Fiscal 2012 Appropriations Bill

The bill is located here. As regards Yemen, there were some funding caveats thrown in. Specifically,
(g) YEMEN.—None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated for assistance for the Government of Yemen until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that— (1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Yemen is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization; (2) no member of a foreign terrorist organization serves in any policy position in a ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Yemen that is proposed to receive such assistance; (3) a comprehensive anti-terrorism vetting and tracking system exists for all Yemeni security forces personnel benefitting from United States security assistance; and (4) all ministries, agencies, or instrumentalities of the Government of Yemen that directly or indirectly benefit from United States security assistance are financially transparent and accountable.

A Really Really Secret Campaign in Yemen

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, it sure is hard for the US to keep a secret if it's always in the habit of telling everybody what's going on with the expectation that they'll keep it to themselves.

Now, it seems, stringers for WAPO have been told where the secret base is. Is anyone surprised? The relevant passage in the story follows:

At the same time, the agency is building a desert airstrip so that it can begin flying armed drones over Yemen. The facility, which is scheduled to be completed in September, is designed to shield the CIA’s aircraft, and their sophisticated surveillance equipment, from observers at busier regional military hubs such as Djibouti, where the JSOC drones are based.

The Washington Post is withholding the specific location of the CIA facility at the administration’s request.

So who's surprised? I am. I had predicted we'd all know where it was by the end of July, and I think the Administration will probably be able to keep the secret past this Sunday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

AQAP's Inspire #6

AQAP released its most recent issue of Inspire and it is, well, incredibly uninspiring. It may be time for Samir Khan et al. to shut it down and find new jobs. Go to to view the latest (or any of the past) issue.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Best Analysis on Yemeni Protests (and the JMP's Role) Thus Far

This excellent article by Professor Yadav seeks to make an important distinction that seems to be lost in the close to six months of protests that have rocked Yemen: the JMP is not the Janus face of the ruling regime. My favorite excerpt is this:
For over a decade, the organized political opposition has sought to substantially reform the political regime in Yemen and to replace Saleh through legal and non-violent mechanisms. This opposition, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), is itself a cross-ideological umbrella of religious parties, socialists, and other leftist nationalists. Indeed, it is so ideologically diverse that issues of procedural and institutional reform have, for a long time, been all that the groups can agree to pursue in common. The Youth revolutionaries' critique of the JMP has centered on its gradual and incremental approach, and its perceived neglect of grassroots. Alienated over time from constituencies outside of Sana'a, the JMP had difficulty articulating a common position on the Huthi crisis, all but missed the emergence of the Southern movement, and was able to carve out only minimal concessions from an encroaching regime. In other words, until a mobilizing push came from Cairo and Tunis and they began to organize (reformist, but not revolutionary) protests of their own in January, the JMP appeared to be teetering on obsolescence.
I want to thank Stacey Philbrick Yadav for an incredibly insightful article. It sheds light on the potential for the opposition in Yemen to play a part in the future success of Yemen.

"We did not expect Washington's stance to be so weak"

Looks like Saleh is set to return to Yemen this Sunday to ensure that "the ruling family" retains their portion of power, come what may. If this article truly gets at the heart of the Obama Administration's tepidity, what a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Really Secret Campaign in Yemen?

Today, the NYT reported that "The Central Intelligence Agency is building a secret air base in the Middle East to serve as a launching pad for strikes in Yemen using armed drones." They received this secret information from an "American official" yesterday. As with last Wednesday's story, it shows that US officials are really good at keeping secrets.

My guess? We'll all know where the secret base is before the end of July.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Secret Campaign in Yemen?

The NYT ran a story yesterday, ironically entitled "U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes."

Secret from whom? Certainly NOT the Yemenis!

In the story, it is related that Abu Ali al-Harithi was killed by American jets. No, not that Abu Ali al-Harithi. He was killed by a drone strike in Yemen back in 2002.

Interesting to consider: when the first al-Harithi was killed, it came out that the US had been behind the strike after the Yemeni government had assured its people that they had run the operation. This is because senior people in the US government couldn't keep their mouths shut. There was an incredible amount of blowback.

Could this be déjà vu all over again?.

It is only days since President Saleh left the country. Yemen is on the verge of civil war. Yemenis already have a deep sense of mistrust for the US. Is this really the right time for a story of this nature to come out? Should we be telling Yemenis that, while most of them face the most trying time of their existence, the US will remain and potentially infringe upon their sovereignty, regardless of the political outcome in their country?

I don't think so.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saleh Gone for the Moment

The question is whether he will return or not. There have been reports that as much as 80% of the military has now defected, and that the remainder of the ruling family left in Yemen may be in trouble (remembering that Hamid al-Ahmar had said they should leave for their own protection months ago.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hamza Shargabi Video

Hamza Shargabi is a doctor (and freedom activist) in Yemen. I think anyone interested in Yemen will find value in this video. You may also follow his blog or subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Must See Yemeni Website

If anyone wants to understand the impact of the recent fighting in Yemen, they need only go to Here you will find commentary as well as very graphic images of the needless damage wrought as a result of Saleh's unwillingness to leave.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Gulf News" Tells Saleh: Irhal!

The president of Yemen has made a serious mistake in rejecting the GCC's plan for a transition government to take over that troubled country. Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign the plan two days ago, throwing the whole process into doubt. His actions raise the prospect of serious violence engulfing the country within days.

Incredibly Sad News out of Sana'a

It's well known that Yemen is the second-most highly armed nation in the world, trailing only the good ole USA. That is why this report out of Sana'a in today's NYT is so sad.

Not only did pro-Saleh protesters put the lives of foreign diplomats at risk on Sunday, but they've engaged tribesmen of the Al-Ahmar clan in clashes in the capitol using tanks and RPG's. This is not what the average Yemeni deserves, and it is Saleh who history will declare the central cause of what looks like an impending civil war:

The protesters also have insisted that their movement is a nonviolent one. But as tensions grow between Mr. Saleh’s supporters and the tribesmen allied with the political opposition, the prospects of a nonviolent transfer of power grow dimmer... tensions have grown so bad that fighting could break out even without government provocation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama Refers to Yemen in Presidential Address

I truly appreciate President Obama making the comment he made yesterday about Yemen (and, in particular, about President Ali Abdullah Saleh):

Now, our opposition to Iran's intolerance and Iran's repressive measures, as well as its illicit nuclear program and its support of terror, is well known. But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change -- with change that's consistent with the principles that I've outlined today. That's true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.

However, I found the speech to be pretty vanilla, and the idea that we are going to engage the Middle East in a different way moving forward a bit specious. President Obama said within the speech that

It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy. That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia... both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections, a vibrant civil society, accountable and effective democratic institutions, and responsible regional leadership. But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place."

Love him or not, it was our past president, George W. Bush, who heralded this new age in American foreign policy with a speech he gave at the NED in 2003. He said:

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will Saleh Fall Redux

The Atlantic Wire comments on Saleh's staying power in Yemen, publishing commentary from specialists on the nation.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

STRATFOR Comments on Anwar al-Awlaki

Al Qaeda's Leadership in Yemen is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Will Saleh Fall?

I’ve been watching the ongoings in Yemen over the last two weeks (since President Saleh refused to sign the GCC brokered agreement on the transfer of power) with uncharacteristic pessimism.

While academics (with far more wisdom on the situation) may still believe that Saleh will ultimately go, I’m no longer so sure.

Fresh from his success in killing Osama, President Obama seems to be walking a slippery slope by okaying a failed targeted assasination of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. The United States government - as directed by President Obama - is sending the absolutely wrong message to Yemeni protesters with this move. Only six days later, Salih had another dozen protesters killed (most in Sana'a).

Everyone knows that previous to the Arab uprisings Saleh only had a tenuous grip on the country. It was widely reported that, apart from oil and LNG facilities, the regime was only capable of governing a few cities. With so many people focused on AQAP and the security implications for the "western world," the question has yet to be asked as to whether the internal security situation relative to governance has changed to any significant degree?

Regardless of the defection of top generals, I don't think it has much. And from the looks of things, I think Saleh might agree.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Yemeni Activist Discusses Power Transfer Negotiations

A nice and quick breakdown of the GCC proposal, a proposal that looks to be scuttled.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PBS Newshour on Yemen

Watch an interesting interview with former US Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine and Carnegie's Middle East expert Christopher Boucek on the current situation in Yemen:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scholarship on Yemen?

Recently, I’ve come across a couple of studies on Yemen that both purport to add to the ongoing dialogue on Yemen. Specifically, they seek to shape western understandings of this oftentimes misunderstood nation. One study is written under the auspices of the Canadian Defense & Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI), is entitled “The New Terrorism: Understanding Yemen,” and is written by David Carment, a professor of International Affairs at Carleton University and a CDFAI research fellow. The other is entitled “2011 Yemen Stability Survey,” and is authored by Glevum Associates, a company that currently has DoD contracts in both Afghanistan and Iraq and, one would assume, is looking for funding to do research in Yemen.

I’d like to comment on the Carment piece first. While the article brings many of Yemen’s problem’s to light and may indeed be entirely factually correct, the author draws some interesting conclusions from assertions that are entirely undocumented within his paper. Carment claims that “Saleh’s government is heavily influenced by al-Qaeda Arabs: jihadists who fought for him in the 1994 civil war after their return from Afghanistan.” While it is true that “al-Qaeda Arabs” did support Saleh in crushing the southern secessionists in 1994 and General’s such as Ali Mohsen are widely known to be sympathetic to the salafist-Sunni trend, Carment in no way substantiates the contention that “Saleh’s government is heavily influenced by al-Qaeda Arabs.” Instead, he goes on to further assert that “today, Bin Laden supporters are thought to be in positions of influence in the military and the government.” Who thinks so?

The other assertion Carment makes is that “transitioning Yemen towards a more democratic system will only mean a hardening of tribal divisions and a deepening of the corruption, clientelism and cronyism that are rife throughout the country.” This claim is also undocumented and offers little in the way of potential solutions. What does Carment suggest with this statement? That Yemen should transition towards a more authoritarian government?

In sum, it is a piece that should have shown up in the op-ed pages of a newspaper, and not under the pretense of a scholarly report. To be a scholarly work – whatever its length – an author should always seek to substantiate his or her claims though documentation that directs the reader to where the author found the information that allowed him or her to draw their conclusions. This allows the readership to draw as objective an understanding as possible – especially if the claims made are as important as the un-sourced ones looked at above.

Objectivity draws my attention to the Glevum Report which, by the way, references the Yemeni peaceful protests that began on January 18, 2011 as “protests and riots.”

I would only like to address one question Glevum put to a polled group in Yemen. Question 14 asks “From what you know, or have heard from others, do the people in this area strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose: the establishment of an Islamic Emirate in Yemen?” 86% of those polled believed that other Yemenis either somewhat or strongly supported this statement. What was their motive for answering this way? Why wasn’t the question put directly to those polled? As a second order question (asking how one perceives the thinking of another), the data allows for too wide an interpretation. Do those polled believe the idea of an Islamic Emirate to be akin to what many Americans believe when they see the US as a “Christian Nation?” Are those polled more secular and making assumptions about their less secular brethren? Are Yemenis conditioned to this response regardless of their inner feelings and potential actions?

I could go on and on with similar questions. The truth is that the polled question is incredibly unclear and it is potentially dangerous to be disseminating (unqualified) information of this nature towards a western audience: information that (inadvertently?) plays upon the ongoing western public fear of the Muslim World and its efforts towards “Islamic Emirates.”

Whatever that means.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard

Following up on yesterdays post, I want to share the most recent newsletter from the organization. If you would like to be on their email list for future newsletters, just email your request to!

The Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard Newsletter No. 16, March 31, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sheila Carapico on Current Events in Yemen

Sheila Carapico - a formost authority on modern Yemen - gives a 45 minute interview on how she views political events in the country today. It is a great interview and could be classified as "Yemen 101." Listen here:

Saving the Arabian Leopard

Here's a change of pace from our usual postings here on the political developments in Yemen: A wonderful story about the EXTREMELY endangered Arabian Leopard. The video documentary is long, but well worth the investment:

The person running The Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen is David Stanton. Please give if you can, and tell them you saw the documetary here!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yemen and US Interests

Again, al Jazeera is ahead of the curve when it comes to reporting on Yemen. Yesterday, on "Inside Story," they interviewed Hakim Almasmari of the Yemen Post about the US posture on regime change in Sana'a. Hakim's answer? As soon as the opposition has given the US guarantees about prosecuting their "War on Terror" against AQAP, then the US will come out in favor of regime change unequivocally. Hakim's assertion is supported by Bloomberg reporting, which claims the Al-Qaeda fear in the U.S. "Buys Saleh Time as Yemen Violence Threatens Collapse."

Watch the "Inside Story" here:

The Gulf states are also in discussions about how the transitional government will take shape. As reported by Reuters,

"The talks in Saudi Arabia will discuss the modalities and mechanism for transition of power," another source close to the discussions told Reuters. "There are some names being circulated to head a transitional council."

These included Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar, a leading figure among Yemen's powerful tribes, Abdulkarim al-Iryani, a U.S.-educated former prime minister and currently an adviser to Saleh, and another former premier Abdulaziz Abdul-Ghani.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yemen Protesters Hold Firm

Mai Yamani Comments on Yemen in the Daily Star

Mai Yamani, author of "Cradle of Islam" and a prominent Saudi historian, recently shared her opinion on the fate of the Saleh regime in the Daily Star of Lebanon. Of note are two excellent passages:
Since 2009, the United States has showered Saleh’s government with military aid. But Washington is well aware that Al-Qaeda is an enemy of convenience for Saleh, and that the danger to the United States from post-Saleh chaos in Yemen is exaggerated.
The reality is that the United States has known for weeks that it cannot save Saleh’s regime. Its concern for Saleh’s political survival is closely linked to its guardianship of the Saudi regime

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yemen protesters reject Saleh's offer

The Dangerous US Game in Yemen

This article, which showed up in The Nation of all places, gives a great overview of US policy in Yemen over the previous decade.

Sites Blocked, Hacked as Uprising Gains Further Momentum

This story the Yemen Post ran earlier today is nothing new. Sites have been blocked and hacked for years in Yemen - almost always the Arabic language (native language) sites. One thing you will not see happen, however, is the muzzling of a government mouthpiece such as the Yemen Observer. These sites, and their too clever-by-half attempts at propaganda, are there for your reading pleasure.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President Saleh willing to transfer powers to new government chaired by opposition.

This is the title of a story written earlier today by Nasser Arrabyee. Interesting to note is that the opposition in this article is not necessarily the JMP, but the Islah party. Hakim Almasmari was wrong about regime change in Yemen this March, but it may come in April.

And speaking of Hakim Almasmari, he has kept up the drumbeat for the honorable exit of Saleh for the last few months. For those of us in the West used to leaders going peacefully into retirement, it's important to note that most rulers in the Middle East either die or are killed while in office. What Saleh could do for Yemeni society by peacefully entering retirement while remaining in Yemen and acting as the elder statesman cannot be overestimated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yemeni Leader Offers to Exit Earlier

In the NYT today:
SANA, Yemen — As his tenuous grasp on power eroded further with more public figures defecting to the opposition, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accepted a proposal by his adversaries to plan his departure from office by the end of the year, a government official said on Tuesday. Previously he had offered only to leave by 2013.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Violence in Yemen Escalates

With all eyes on Libya late last week, it was still surprising that Yemen's woes were all but ignored. I switched between CNN, MSNBC and Fox News and found little reportage on the current state of affairs there -- aside from a couple 30 second spots and running text beneath the stories of Libya and Japan. The story, of course, is that (government?) snipers killed 52 anti-government protesters on Friday, and Saleh declared a state of emergency in Yemen (just as Bahrain did earlier in the week) on Saturday.

Thank God for Al-Jazeera, which faces greater security risks than western media when reporting in Yemen, but nevertheless does a better job in educating English readers. Last week, they did an in-depth story on Tawakkol Karman and the protest movement in Yemen called "Yemen: A tale of two protests."

My favorite blogger on Yemen (and a foremost scholar), Gregory Johnsen, has an up-to-date list of defectors from the regime located here. This list is substantial - including the resignation of Yemen's ambassador to the UN, who resigned this weekend.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Yemen's opposition ‘thugs’ attack young man in Dhamar

An intersting story insofar as the Governor and general secretary of the local council of Dhamar both went to visit this man in the hospital. I don't wnat to minimize the fact that both his legs were broken, but the insight to be drawn from this article is that he was visited by two of the most prominent men in the province.

My guess it that important personages not only do not visit anti-regime protesters that are injured and killed, but that they could care less.

Yemeni Protesters & Opposition Reject Saleh's New Initiative

How interesting. This News Yemen story relates that the "Head of the JMP, Yasin Saeed Noaman, said the president's new initiative 'aims to rescue the regime, but not the country.'"

In related news, Mohammed al Qadhi reports that the committee of tribal chiefs and clerics led by Sadeq al Ahmar - and responsible for mediating negotiations between the government and the opposition - claimed Mr Saleh was responsible for the heavy-handed tactics of the security forces in dealing with the demonstrations in Yemen.

In light of the above, it only makes sense that the GPC would be "disappointed by the decision of the opposition coalition," right?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Qahtan Coming Around?

The website Al-Shorfa reports that Mohammed Qahtan recently claimed the JMP's stance regarding the regime to be that they continue "to support public calls for the end of the regime and will not give up on these demands."

While this isn't necessarily an admission that it is his personal point of view, and while he is an acting spokesperson, it is a step in the positive direction.

At the same time, Hakim Almasmari recently admonished opposition leaders in a Yemen Post editorial, saying that their past corruptions should not be forgotten in the event of the regime's downfall.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sheikh Hamid Al-Ahmar Interview with the Yemen Times:

Okay, the guy's corrupt as well, but not as corrupt as Saleh himself. And I do believe he is a bit of an idealist with a better sense of what is wrong in Yemen than the president.

The entire interview is worth reading, but I'll reproduce a funny exchange between the Yemen Times and Hamid when Hamid voiced his scepticism over Saleh stepping down by 2013:

Yemen Times: "In spite of the fact that the Americans believe that he will step down in 2013?"

Hamid al-Ahmar: "(Laughter) He lies to the Americans! They know that he is the biggest liar in the world."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Pie for President Saleh

Nasser Arrabyee & Hakim Almasmari

There are two Yemeni journalists writing in English that I read frequently and whom I suggest those interested in events in Yemen read as well: Nasser Arrabyee and Hakim Almasmari. Nasser is a freelance journalist while Hakim owns the Yemen Post.

In Nasser's most recent article, he speaks with opposition leaders who believe Saleh should step down before the end of the year. He also discusses a 7-point plan put forth by the opposition to solve the crisis, which was amended by Saleh to include an eighth point that "all parties are to end demonstrations and sit-ins to bring an end to streets [sic] congestion, prevent ...chaos, [as well as prevent the] destruction of public and private properties." Effectively denying the right to assemble.

Hakim Almasmari is a wonder to read when he writes editorials. Maybe he avoids the wrath of the regime because he only voices his opinions in English? In a February 28th editorial, he predicts the fall of the Saleh regime this March, going on to say "Everyone in Yemen is an enemy according to the regime. The southerners are separatists, the northerners are rebels, tribes are barbarians, and the political parties are foreign agents, which leaves no one loyal to the country except the ruling family that has stolen billions of dollars of wealth." Extraordinarily courageous writing!

Zindani Joins the Opposition?

In my opinion, the Islah party is the one to watch when it come to reform emanating from the "opposition." This is because of their dominance within the Joint Meeting Parties, as well as the fact that they are the most conservative political party within that grouping (thus, the most likely to acquiesce to the regime).

As Paul Dresch in "A History of Modern Yemen," and Ahmed Hezam Al-Yemeni in "The Dynamic of Democratisation – Political Parties in Yemen" both explain, at the party's foundation in 1990 it was made up of intellectual‐reformist Islamists (or the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood, personified by moderates such as Abdul Wahab al‐Anisi), a conservative tribal group (led by Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar), and a conservative‐radical salafi group (best personified by the infamous Sheikh Abd al‐Majid al‐Zindani).

With the recent defection of al-Zindani from the regime - albeit, his desire is to found an Islamic state - it looks like Saleh's authority is further eroding. Coupled with the almost complete defection of the al-Ahmar's, it will be interesting to see what reformist Islamists like al-Anisi and Mohammed Qahtan (a co-founder of Islah along with Zindani and Ahmar) decide to do in the near future.

Recently, Qahtan was quoted as saying "We support the people, but we wish they had waited a little bit to protest so much... the reform movement in Yemen requires wise deliberation. We need to be careful against taking an impulsive course of action, or there will be losses." I'm a bit sceptical of wise deliberation, as the deliberation in Yemen - be it a facade or not - has been going on for far too long.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic for Yemen?

Hussein Abdallah al Ahmar, brother of Sadeq al-Ahmar, the "sheihk of sheikhs" of the most powerful Yemeni tribe -- the Hashid -- has recently defected from the president's party (the GPC) and denounced Saleh as the "Imam." His brother, Hamid, is also a leading member of Islah and the JMP movement.

While Hamid has been (at times) a very vocal opponent of the Saleh regime since the crisis of 2005, this is the first time I am aware of that this son of Abdullah al-Ahmar (a man who towered above all others in modern Yemeni History) has made what seems to be an irrevocable break with the regime. Could it happen that Sadeq also turns his back on Saleh?

It should also be noted that the protests are getting larger, as attested to in this Washington Post article. Maybe there is hope for change in Yemen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cairo It Ain't

This recent article by Haley Edwards in Foreign Policy is quite good. The only mistake she makes is in claiming the Hashid Tribal Confederation as "the largest and most influential tribal alliance in Yemen." While it is the most influential, the largest tribal grouping is that of the Bakil Confederation.

One citizen killed, others wounded with fire by JMP’s thugs

This article, bad English and all, is nothing but lies. Note that Almotamar is the website of the GPC, the president's political party.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libyan Trippers

"Colonel Qaddafi, speaking in an impassioned 30-minute phone call to a Libyan television station, appeared particularly incensed by the revolt in Zawiya, close as it was to the capital. In a rambling discourse, he blamed the uprising on ... Osama bin Laden, saying he had drugged the people, giving them 'hallucinogenic pills in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe.'"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Yemen, Leader Says He’ll Talk, but Not Quit

As most people know, the dominating force in the JMP is Islah - the cat's paw of Saleh's GPC during the unification process in Yemen (which began with unification in 1990, and ended in 1994 with the defeat of southern secessionist forces). What most people don't know is that the YSP (or Yemeni Socialist Party) is not only the JMP's second most powerful party, but was the leader of the forces seeking secession in 1994. While the leaders of the JMP still do not look to have distanced themselves greatly from the regime, the coalescing alliance between the youth and the JMP described in this NYT article points towards some type of resolution of the problems in the south of Yemen.

At the same time, it looks as if the Houthi's in the North have been heartened by this nascent alliance, and have come out to protest in the thousands in Sa'adah.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Where the Protests are Taking Place in Sana'a

In the image above, you can see the location of Tahreer Square in downtown Sana'a, where the majority of protests are taking place in the city. It is in close proximity to the House of Representatives and the residence Stephanie and I lived in while in Sana'a. Tahreer Square in Sana'a is significantly smaller than the like-named Tahreer Square in Cairo.
Sana'a University is also the scene of protests.

Yemen Protesters Face Off for 8th Day

The NYT reports today that, "In what now seems a pattern, pro-government forces wearing traditional dress that prevails outside the capital routed antigovernment protesters as the police and army looked on."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spoke too Soon!

It looks as if the coalition opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) have now backed out of dialogue with the regime as a result of the ongoing protests in Yemen. Don't put too much faith in the Yemeni opposition as they are closer to the regime than most Middle East "oppositions."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Protesters and loyalists clash in Yemen

While Egypt had hundreds of thousands protesting, potentially approaching more than a million after all was said and done, Yemen can only point to hundreds. These numbers were easily outweighed by riot police and pro-Saleh supporters, who engaged the protesters in a rock-throwing contest.

On top of that, the opposition has agreed to enter into dialogue with the president.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak Steps Down, Ceding Power to Military

Amazing! The Egyptians now have an opportunity to build democracy for the first time in close to 60 years! Let us all hope and pray that they are successful!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Yemen Won’t Fall

I'm laid up at the moment, but recently read this article by Victoria Clark that was published in the NYT last week. I thought it was quite precise. Victoria Clark recently published a great book on Yemen called "Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thousands Protest Against Government in Yemen

This NYT story hits the nail on the head without even trying to. While the military in Tunisia (though small) is considered impartial and professional, that is not the case at present in Yemen. While huge protests may be occurring, the tell here is the reportage of President Salih's Sunday press conference (where he apologized if he had ever made errors, as only God is perfect), where he promised to "raise salaries for the army, by approximately $47 a month, and denied reports that he is preparing his son as his successor."

The average monthly salary in Yemen is about $200.00 USD.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yemen Spotlight

This past Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a great story on Yemen, entitled "Yemen & The War on Terror." You can either watch the video or read the transcript of the story. (I want to thank my mom for calling and letting me know!)

The National also ran a story on Yemen today, where the author asserts that the real problem Yemen faces is "rapid resource depletion and a speedily expanding, underemployed population." This is not new news, and the article pretty much regurgitates a lot of what Yemen followers already know, but it is important to keep this type of story in the news until the general populace in the West finally comes to understand why Yemen is truly "in the spotlight."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Yemen I Know

I was really glad to see Secretary of State Clinton making a trip to Sana'a, Yemen -- especially as the country is getting so much bad press in the Western media for the last year and a US Secretary of State hasn't been there in 20 years. As Nasser Arrabyee (a really great blogger/journalist about Yemen events) reported, Mrs. Clinton said her view of Yemen was changed after actually visiting Yemen. I think that would be the case for any Westerner. In light of that, I wanted to share this article Dan sent me from the Yemen Observer: "Yemen as Experienced by a Westerner Studing Arabic." It's a really nice anecdote about a largely understood country.