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Daniel Martin Varisco is President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies.

New Book on Non-State Actors

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I. B. Tauris has just published Violent Radical Movements in the Arab World: The Ideology and Politics of Non-State Actors, edited by the late Peter Sluglett and Victor Kattan. This includes an article by Dan Varisco on “When the State becomes a Non-State: Yemen in the Huthi/Ali Abdullah Salih Alliance.” It also contains an introduction to the lifetime work of the historian Peter Sluglett.

Abstract of Book:

Violent non-state actors have become almost endemic to political movements in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. This book examines why they play such a key role and the different ways in which they have developed. Placing them in the context of the region, separate chapters cover the organizations that are currently active, including: The Muslim Brotherhood, The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, Hamas, Hizbullah, the PKK, al-Shabab and the Huthis.

The book shows that while these groups are a new phenomenon, they also relate to other key factors including the ‘unfinished business’ of the colonial and postcolonial eras and tacit encouragement of the Wahhabi/Salafi/jihadi da’wa by some regional powers. Their diversity means violent non-state actors elude simple classification, ranging from ‘national’ and ‘transnational’ to religious and political movements. However, by examining their origins, their supporters and their motivations, this book helps explain their ubiquity in the region.

Contents of Book:

Preface, Victor Kattan
Foreword: Peter Sluglett and the Study of the Modern Middle East, Toby Dodge

1. Introduction: Violent Non-State Actors in the Arab World: some General Considerations, Peter Sluglett

2. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Violence: Porous Boundaries and Context, Khalid Hroub

3. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Ideology vs. Context , Hassan A. Barari

4. Between Religion, Warfare and Politics: the Case of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria , Mohamed-Ali Adraoui

5. The 2007 Hamas-Fatah Conflict in Gaza and the Israeli-American Demands , Victor Kattan

6. Hizbullah and the Lebanese State: Indispensable, Unpredictable – Destabilizing? , Peter Sluglett

7. When the State becomes a Non-State: Yemen in the Huthi/Ali Abdullah Salih Alliance, Daniel Martin Varisco

8. Violent Non-State Actors in Somalia: al-Shabab and the Pirates, Afyare A. Elmi and Ruqaya Mohamed

9. “Being in Time”: Kurdish Movement and Quests of Universal, Hamit Borzolan

Afterword, Abdullah Baabood

Yemeni Musical and Linguistic Heritage for UNESCO

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A three-day international cultural seminar on the Ḥaḍramī musical genre of Dān was held in Cairo on July 5-6, 2019. The Yemeni Minister of Culture Marwan Dammaj contributed to the discussions intended to start necessary preparations for nominating Ḥaḍramī Dān music for inclusion in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Ḥaḍramī Dān is a genre of folk singing that is very popular in the governorate of Ḥaḍramawt, as well as other parts of Yemen and Indonesia. In one session, the Director of the Culture Office in Ḥaḍramawt, Ahmed bin Dowis, provided a presentation of Ḥaḍramī Dān. He described it as a component of Ḥaḍramī cultural identity, involved in praising, disparaging, description and wisdom. Popular bands of Ḥaḍramī Dān can be found in Tarim, Say’ūn , Daw‘ān and Shibām. For examples of Yemeni Dān, click here and here.

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Zaydi Manuscript Tradition

The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition project, based at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton,  has issued a recent report on the ZMT’s ongoing efforts to capture the Yemeni manuscripts in Italian libraries and provide open access to them.

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V. Sagaria Rossi & S. Schmidtke, “The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition (ZMT) Project. Digitizing the Collections of Yemeni Manuscripts in Italian Libraries,” Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies (COMSt) Bulletin 5/1 (2019), pp. 43-60.

An online version of the paper is available at https://www.aai.uni-hamburg.de/en/comst/pdf/bulletin5-1/43-60.pdf as well as
https://albert.ias.edu/handle/20.500.12111/7824.

2019 AIYS Yemeni Fellowship Meeting

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2019 AIYS Fellows
(top row, left to right) Mansure Jubbara (Ṣa‘da University), Shadad Al-Ali,  Director of GOAM in Dhamar, Ahmad al-Shawafi, Walid Al-Murisi, Dr Efterkar Almekhlafi, Dr Halah Jabbori, Dr. Salwa Dammaj;
(bottom row), Mohammed Jazem, Salah al-Kowmani (Dhamār University), (far right) Khalid al-Dhafari (Ibb University).

A seminar was held on Thursday, June 2019 in the AIYS premises for the 2019 AIYS Fellowships. Eleven Yemeni researchers out of 72 applicants received the 2019 Fellowship award. AIYS is the only international institute currently providing fellowships to Yemeni scholars in Yemen. If you would like to contribute to a special fund only used for fellowships to Yemeni scholars, click here.

The 2019 Yemeni scholars’ research included a variety of specializations including the sciences, agriculture, social domain, history, Arabic inscriptions, antiquities, and law. Four awarded researches aimed to study topics in Yemen’s history and antiquities. One research topic is concerned with the war’s devastating impacts upon education and pupils in the northern region of Sa‘da. Another research  intended to verify some old Yemeni Kufic inscriptions. Scientific researches are focusing on water shortages in Yemen and exploring possible solutions, endemics disease outbreaks and how to contain risks.

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Mohammed Jazem

The following awarded researchers provided brief presentations about their researches.
1. Dr. Eftekar Almekhlafi, her research titled: Selling Children: a Study of Law and Fiqh.
2. Dr. Maher al-Maqtari, his research titled:  The Possibility of Planting Barley and Grain Plants with Saline Water Irrigation in Yemen.

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Dr Maher Maktari

3. Khalid al-Dhafari, his research titled : Edited Edition of the Herbal al-Mu’tamid  fi al-adwiya al-mufrida by the Rasulid Sultan al-Malik al-Muẓaffar Yūsuf.

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Khalad al-Dhafari (Ibb University)

4. Salah al-Kawmani, his research titled: Kufic inscriptions in Dhamar, Yemen.
5. Dr. Mansur Jubbara, his research titled: The Effect of the War on the Psychological Needs of Students at  Ṣa‘da University.
6. Dr. Hala Jabbori, her research titled: The Overall Legacy Left by Cemeteries and Their Impact on Groundwater Quality.
7. Walid al-Murisi, his research titled: Prevalence and Risk Factors of Soil-Transmitted Helminth and Schistosoma mansoni among School Children in Al-Nādira District, Ibb Governorate, Yemen.

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Walid al-Murisi

8. Ahmed al-Shawafi, his research titled: Assessment of Heavy Metals Contamination in Groundwater and Using Natural Zeolite to Remove Them in Banī al-Ḥarith District, Ṣan‘ā’.

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Ahmad al-Shawafi

9. Muhammad Jazem: Study and Analysis of a Manuscript about Irrigation Rights in Wadi Dhahr.
10. Saeed Baniwas, a researcher from Hadramout, provided a presentation about his research through Skype. His research is entitled: Ecological and Biological Study of the Varroa destructor Mite on Honey bees in Doan Valley, Hadhramout Governorate.

At the end of the seminar the researchers were paid 80% of the total amount of the fellowship grant, while the remain 20% was held back until the researchers get their studies finished.

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Dr Efterkar Almekhlafi, Dr Salwa Dammaj

Dr. Salwa Dammaj, Resident Director

AIYS at MESA 2019

MESA has just announced its 2019 program. One of the panels organized by AIYS is “From al-Hadi ila al-Haqq to Husayn al-Huthi: The Zaydi Phenomenon in Yemen.” The panel will be held Saturday, 11/16/19 at 8:30am.

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Mosque of al-Hādī ilā al-Ḥaqq in Ṣa‘da

This will include the following papers:

•  Making an Imam: The Rebellion of Yahya b. ‘Abd Allah in Zaydi Historiography (Najam Haider, Barnard College)
•   Rasulid Sultans and Zaydi Imams: War (Mostly) and Peace (a Little) in Yemen during the 13th-15th centuries (Daniel Martin Varisco, President, AIYS)
•    “The ahl al-bayt’s return to power: The legitimation of religious rule in the speeches of Husayn al-Huthi in the context of the current crisis in Yemen” (Alexander Weissenburger, Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
• David Hallenberg (University of Oregon) will discuss the preservation of Zaydi manuscripts
• The Discussant will be Brinkley Messick (Columbia University)

Here is the abstract of the panel:

The Zaydi sect has received attention lately due to the ongoing war in Yemen in which a Saudi coalition is fighting a local alliance of northern tribes, former military and a family known as the Huthis, a group that is reviving Zaydi Islam with influence from Iran. As a branch of the Shi‘a, the Zaydis take their inspiration from Zayd ibn ‘Ali, the fifth imam, who was killed while attempting to overthrow the Ummayad caliph in 122/740. Zaydism spread to several parts of the Islamic world, but its most lasting imprint was in Yemen. In 897 a descendant of ‘Ali named Yahya b. al-Husayn, and known as al-Hadi ila al-Haqq, established a local dynasty in northern Yemen that lasted, without ever having full control of what constitutes Yemen today, until 1962.

This panel brings together scholars who work on the diverse span of Zaydi history in Yemen. One paper examines the views of four Zaydi scholars writing during the time of the Hadawi dominance in Yemen on an earlier Zaydi imam who had accepted a stipend from the Abbasid caliph, thus renouncing the call for armed rebellion. Another paper examines the challenge to Zaydi dominance in the north during the 12th through the 15th centuries by the invasion of the Ayyubids and succeeding dynasty of the Rasulid sultans. The first Rasulid sultan received the blessing of the caliph in Baghdad in order to fight the Zaydis. The Rasulid chronicles and Zaydi sources describe the battles and peace agreements between the two polities, including their rivalry for influence in Mecca. A third provides a focus on the present context with an analysis of the speeches of Husayn al-Huthi, who provides the basis for legitimizing religious rule in Yemen, especially for the Ahl al-Bayt. These speeches are the discursive backbone of Huthi rhetoric, which is spread widely in the media. The final paper addresses the loss and destruction of manuscripts, largely from private and public Zaydi libraries, in Yemen’s north and efforts by NGOs to document the losses and assist in preservation. In all, the range of papers provides an introduction to a field of study which has received relatively little attention by Western scholars.

 

Dictionary on Tribal Customary law in Yemen

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Culminating its support for Yemen’s cultural heritage, AIYS has recently printed and published Qāmūs al-‘urf al-qabīlī fī al-Yaman (Dictionary of Tribal Customary Law in Yemen) in three volumes. This is a remarkable work aimed to fill a gap in the Yemeni literature. The author is Ahmed al-Gabali, a senior researcher at the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research.

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Ahmad Gabali with Dr. Salwa Dammaj in the AIYS office

This dictionary is the first of its kind in the Yemeni literature. It is designed to gather, document and explain terms and idioms regarding tribal norms and rules in different regions of Yemen from north to south and from east to west. The author conducted a nationwide field survey in the most famous tribal regions in Yemen. Study of the available literature provided a key resource for the content. This was based on original tribal documents, works by Yemeni authors, as well as studies by foreign researchers. In addition, geographical and historical literature was consulted as a reference to support the work. Local folk poetry in several Yemeni regions also proved valuable help for explaining the terms and concepts. Generally speaking, the content of the dictionary is based on reliable and credible sources and authentic references. It will serve as a main reference for researchers in the future.

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The author Aḥmad Ṣāliḥ al-Gabalī has been a sociology and anthropology researcher at the Yemen Center forStudies and Research since 2004. He received an M.A. degree in Bulgaria in 1988. His previous publications include studies of the terms hajar and jawār in ancient Yemen as well as the Contract of Medina written during the lifetime of the Prophet. He began research for this book on Yemeni tribes in 2006.

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Al-Khazrajī’s “al-‘Uqūd al-lu’lu’īya”

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Twisting the “Strings” and Punishing the “Pearls”
The Editing Errors by the Historian Author Redhouse
concerning the Historian Narrator Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Khazrajī

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The most famous history of Rasulid Yemen is ‘Uqūd al-lu’lu’īya fī ta’rīkh al-dawla al-Rasūlīya by the court historian ‘Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Khazrajī (d. 1410 CE). This was published in a widely used edition by Brill from 1906-1918 in five volumes, but there are later editions edited by Muḥammad ‘Alī al-Akwa‘ and also by ‘Abd Allāh al-Ḥibshī. Unfortunately the Brill edition has multiple errors in both the translation and Arabic text. I have created a webpage discussing the errors in the edition, the range of editions available and a biography of Sir James William Redhouse (d. 1892), who was the translator.

I encourage anyone who uses this edition to send in errors they have noticed to be added the webpage.

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