Category Archives: Member News

New Book on Non-State Actors


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

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.

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.


Workshop on Rasulid Sultan


On Monday, May 13, 2019, AIYS President Varisco gave a workshop on the Rasulid sultan al-Malik al-Mujāhid ‘Alī, who was kidnapped in Mecca and taken to Cairo in 351/1351 (not 1331 as in the announcement…). The workshop was for four visiting Japanese students who work on Mamluk materials. The Rasulid sources describe the kidnapping in very general terms, but the Mamluk and Meccan sources add many more details, including what happened to the sultan in Egypt. Varisco is writing an article on this event as part of his fellowship at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg in Bonn.

Thanking Mulk for her service to AIYS

Mulk with her grandchildren and Dr. Salwa Dammaj

On Thursday, March 7, a reception party was held at AIYS in Ṣan‘ā’ to bid farewell to Mulk, who started working for AIYS in 1998 until 2018. Her daughters and granddaughters were in attendance. She is from the Manākha district of Ṣan‘ā’ governorate. Mulk noted that when she was working for a Yemeni family in 1998, that family introduced her to an American woman called Barbara, who helped her to get a job opportunity in the AIYS. She started working in the AIYS office when Marta Colburn was the Resident Director. Afterwards she kept her job with directors Chris Edens and Stephen Steinbeiser and most recently Salwa Dammaj.


Mulk served in the three buildings that used to be the AIYS headquarters. After her husband died in 2006 she had to support and was responsible for the  upbringing of her six siblings.

Mulk with an AIYS friend

She holds a lot of reminiscences about the foreign visitors and researchers who came to AIYS over the past two decades. Mulk said that she was deeply impressed by the late Selma al-Radi, describing her as very kind and helpful lady. She is very grateful for AIYS, considering her work for the institute as a very positive experience in her life. AIYS deeply appreciates Mulk’s services and loyalty, wishing her good health and welfare.

Yemen’s Culture at Risk

Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Dan Varisco discussing Yemen’s rich cultural heritage at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019

On Saturday, February 24, The Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. hosted a seminar on “Culture at Risk: Yemen’s Heritage under Threat”. This was jointly sponsored by the Sackler Gallery, CAORC and the Antiquities Coalition. The speakers included several AIYS members, including AIYS President Dan Varisco, Noha Sadek and Krista Lewis. Also speaking was Zaydoon Zaid of the American Foundation for the Study of Man and Gerald Feierstein, of The Middle East Institute and a former US Ambassador to Yemen. Information about the event is posted online and a video will be available in the future.

Below are some of the photographs of the event.

Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Noha Sadek at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
CAORC Program Director Glenn Corbett introducing Krista Lewis at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Zaydoon Zayd at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Luigi Marini, Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN,  Ambassador Wafa Bughaighis of Libya to the U.S. and former U.S. Yemen Ambassador Gerald Feierstein at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019

[Photographs provided by Cory Grace of the Smithsonian.]

علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي


كلمة المهندس محمود إبراهيم الصغيري – رئيس الجمعية الفلكية اليمنية
في حفل تكريم : علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي والباحث الفلكي الشاب الأستاذ عدنان علي عبد الخالق الشوافي – في مركز الدراسات والبحوث اليمني – صنعاء – صباح الإثنين 26/11/2018 م
أخوة الوفاء للعلم والعلماء في الديار اليمنية
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
حين يستدعي الإنسان مراحل تفكيره أومعارفه ببعض القضايا تتبلور لديه أصول بداياته المعرفية وأيضاً قيمتها . وفي المجال الفلكي ربما كان مهماً أنْ أشير إلى انَ المعرفة بالفلك وتأريخه ومراحله وأيضاً أعلامه لم تكن واضحةً في الذهن قبل العام 1979م . وفي إبريل / نيسان من ذلك العام 1979م وأثناء حضور الندوة العالمية الثانية لتاريخ العلوم عند العرب التقيت ولأول مرة بباحث مهم على الصعيد الفلكي هو الدكتور ديفيد كنج وأهداني محاضرةً مطبوعة له باللغتين العربية والانجليزية عنوانها: ( حول تاريخ الفلك في العصر الوسيط في اليمن )- كان قد ألقاها في وقت سابق من ذلك العام في صنعاء – وهي المحاضرة – الدراسة التي نشرتها لاحقاً في العدد الأول من مجلة الإكليل – صفر 1400 للهجرة – يناير /كانون الثاني 1980م – وقد ألحقتها بتعليق للأستاذ المحقق عبد الله الحبشي كان عنوانه : ( حول مؤلفات أهل اليمن في الفلك ) .
وفي العام 1980 م ذاته كتبت لإذاعة صنعاء مسلسلاً إذاعياً عنوانه : ( الهبوط  على سطح القمر ) وفيه الكثير من المعارف الفلكية والمنجزات التقنية والطبية … وبالرغم من ذلك لم أنتبه إلى حقيقة يمنية مهمة في المعارف الفلكية وكانت قد بدأت تتوفر في المكتبات  اليمنية منذ العام 1979م .
وبعيد قراءتي ولعدة مرات مقالة علاَمة التأريخ اليمني القاضي محمد بن علي الأكوع الحُوالي بعنوان : ( قصيدة البحر النعامي في الأشهر الحميرية وما يوافقها من أغدية ) – في العدد المزدوج ( 3-4) من مجلة الإكليل – رييع 1401 للهجرة الموافق 1981م .ً وأقول عدة مرات من القراءة للمقالة المذكورة لأنني في واقع الحال كنت مصححاً لمسودات مقالات المجلة وفي كل أعدادها إضافة إلى رئاسة التحرير ..
وبعد المقالة عن البحر النعامي أفقت على حقيقة فلكية يمنية عميقة وهائلة وهي أنَ أهل اليمن يمتلكون تقويماً خاصاً بهم يختلف عن سائر تقاويم الشعوب ( التي انحصرت تقاويمهم بين الشمسية أو القمرية ) ؛ وتفرد اليمنيون ومن زمن غير معلوم حتى الآن بتقويم زراعي لا يرتبط بجرم سماوي واحد وإنَما بجرم سماوي هو القمر من جهة وبمجموعة نجوم الثريا من جهة أخرى ( في حسابات تُسمَى القرانات) .
نعم إنَ الإنسان لايرى فعلياً (أو لايفهم) إلاَ ما يعرف
وبعد نشر المقالة المذكورة أدركت عيناي عملاً مهماً كان متوفراً وشائعاً في مكتبات صنعاء ووجدته في إحدى مكتبات شارع 26 سبتمبر وهو :
(الدائرة الفلكية الزراعية في اليمن ) للقاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي . وبفضل هذا العلاَمة الكبير وخلال حوالي أربعة عقود من الزمان شق التقويم الزراعي اليمني طريقه إلى الحياة الفكرية الفلكية والزراعية في داخل اليمن وخارجها .
ومن المهم هنا الإشارة إلى عَلمٍ من أعلام الفلك الإسلامي هو :
الدكتور دانيال مارتين فاريسكو الذي أنجز الكثير من البحوث والمؤلفات عن الفلك الزراعي في اليمن ( وهو ما يُسميه الفلك الشعبي) وكان القاضي يحيى العنسي من أبرز مراجعه وذكره بالاسم

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