Category Archives: Politics

Yemen’s Akhdam


Luca Nevola has just published an article on the so-called Akhdam in Yemen at Open Democracy. Here is the first paragraph, but click here for the full article.

In 2013, Nu‘man al-Hudheyfi – a man of akhdam origin – participated at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) held in Sanaa as part of the crisis reconciliation efforts following the 2011 Yemeni Arab Spring. At the time, Hudheyfi was the President of the National Union for the Marginalised and a member of the General People’s Congress, the majority party in the country. In the past, he has defined the ‘marginalised’ as all “those people excluded from property and instruction, forced to live at the margins of society”. But during the conference, his focus was mainly his fellow people, the akhdam, as he condemned the NDC’s racism (‘unsuriyya) by pointing out that Yemen’s three million ‘black people’ had only one representative at the NDC.

Pomegranate seller, Yemen. Rod Waddington/flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Markazi Exhibition



NYU Abu Dhabi, The Project Space  February 4th – February 27th

NYU New York , 19 Washington Square North    February 4 – May 30, 2018

Markazi, the exhibition, casts light on the conditions of mobility and immobility in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, through its focus on households and everyday life in Markazi. Photographs by Nadia Benchallal, taken over several extended visits between December 2016 and October 2017, depict camp residents navigating a state of increasingly permanent suspension. These household portraits attest to the diversity and dignity of Markazi’s – and Yemen’s – population. In addition to Nadia Benchallal’s black-and-white and color photographs, the exhibit features the work of nine Markazi residents who collaborated with Nadia Benchallal and Nathalie Peutz over the course of a year.

Traveling in War-torn Yemen


The traveler Stephen Gollan recently traveled to Yemen, despite the conflict there, and has provided a number of nice photographs about his trip. It is well worth perusing.


Here is how his article starts:

“What brings a traveler to places like this? Is it the desire to be so far from other travelers and achieve an authentic experience, or is it the thrill of stepping into the forbidden and unknown corners of the world?

When it comes to Yemen, I found my attraction drawn from its plethora of historical sights and its splendid natural beauty. But if I am to be one hundred percent honest with you the tremendous lure in coming to conflict areas like Yemen are the people. Yemen’s people are unlike anywhere I have ever been. Their hospitality is contagious, they smile even when there are airstrikes happening blocks away and no matter who you are, or what you believe in, they will be your lifelong friend.

This is what makes all the pain, all the danger, and all of the after effects worthwhile in venturing into finding the truth for yourself. This is Yemen, true Arabia.”


Recent sources on Yemen Conflict


For the recent AIYS panel at MESA, I put together a list of recent resources on the conflict in Yemen.  Here it is…

Recent Books:
• Brandt, Marieke (2017) Tribes and Politics in Yemen: A History of the Houthi Conflict. London: Hurst.
• Heinze, Marie-Christine (2018) Yemen and the Search for Stability: Power, Politics and Society after the Arab Spring. London: I. B. Tauris.
• Hill, Ginny (2017) Yemen Endures: Civil War, Saudi Adventurism and the Future of Arabia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Lackner, Helen (2018) Yemen in Crisis: Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State. London: Saqi Books.
• Lackner, Helen and Daniel Martin Varisco (2017) Yemen and the Gulf States: The Making of a Crisis. Berlin: Gerlach.
• Robinson, Eric et al. (2017) What Factors Cause Individuals to Reject Violent Extremism in Yemen?  Santa Monica: Rand Corporation.

Recent Articles:
• Farrukh, Maher (October 30, 2017) Yemen Crisis Situation Report.
• Karasik, Theodore and Giorgio Cafiero (October 25, 2017) Yemen’s Humanitarian Disaster: Halting the Famine Threat. Middle East Institute:
• Kendall, Elisabeth (October, 2017) Iran’s Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined? Atlantic Council,
• Nasser, Afrah,  (September 21, 2017) The Unfolding UN Failure in the Yemen War. Atlantic Council, MENA Source:
• Salisbury, Peter, (December 15, 2017) Yemen’s Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar: Last Sanhan Standing:

Continue reading Recent sources on Yemen Conflict

Sheila Carapico on Yemen


Professor Sheila Carapico, widely recognized as a leading expert on Yemen, spoke about the country’s current political crisis at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Monday.

Engaging in a discussion with Clifford Chanin, executive vice president and deputy director for museum programs, Carapico explained the current drivers of Yemen’s ongoing civil war and the history of Saudi influence in Yemen.

In the clip below, Carapico locates the Yemeni Civil War within the broader Middle East:

“The kingdoms of the Arabian Peninsula, they were worried about the uprising in Tunisia. They were worried about Egypt, they were worried about Libya, they were worried about Syria… They were panicked about Yemen. It’s right there, it’s so close and it’s half the indigenous population of the whole region.”

Abdullah Al-Mojahid: Genius Painter and Master of Caricature


Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mojahid is one of the most influential cartoonists and creative painters in Yemen. Al-Mojahid distinguished himself as a pioneering cartoonist and a professional painter. His original talent and professional training had significantly helped him to make his way in the caricature profession in Yemen. “Al-Mojahid had been one of the most important Yemeni cartoonists”, said the Yemeni Minister of Information, Mua’mar Al-Iryani, in a statement issued on his death.

The much-respected artist Abdullah Ahmed Al-Mojahid was born in Taiz in 1950 and  died on September 1, 2017, in the capital Sanaa.

He has been a prolific artist, effectively contributing toward promoting the fine arts and caricature in Yemen. He produced dozens of artistic works through his professional career which spanned more than three decades. Due to his originality and ingenuity as a painter, Al-Mojahid established himself as a famous name both in Yemen and other parts of the Arab world. As a result, in 2013 he participated as a representative of Arab Painters in the International Exhibition for Paintings, organized by the Chinese Ministry of Culture for the Painters. His artistic works and paintings were displayed in various artistic and cultural venues and exhibitions. For example, he organized two exhibitions in Damascus, Syria, in 1980 and 1982.

Al-Mojahid studied Fine Arts in Damascus and started his artistic career as a professional cartoonist in Left-oriented Yemeni newspapers.  He was well known in the caricature profession as Abu Suhail. His artistic works included dozens of paintings, drawings and portraits described as of the finest quality. His most famous caricature is entitled Qurūd Abū Suhayl (Abū Suhayl’s Monkeys), published in 1994 by Al-Thawri Newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP).

Salwa Dammaj

Yemeni Refugees in Djibouti

The Gate Of Tears Yemeni refugees, camp of Markazi. Obock, Djibouti, Decembre, 2016
The Gate Of Tears: Yemeni refugees, camp of Markazi. Obock, Djibouti, December, 2016; photograph by Nadia Benchallal

At the upcoming MESA meeting in Washington, D.C., Dr. Nathalie Peutz (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Arab Crossroads Studies Program, New York University Abu Dhabi) will be presenting a talk on her research among Yemeni refugees in Djibouti. This is entitled “Becoming Permanent Refugees: Yemenis in the Horn of Africa.” Her talk will be at the AIYS Business meeting, Sunday, November 19, 4-5pm, in Park Tower Suite 8216 (L). This talk is not on the official program, so please spread the word.

The conflict in Yemen has precipitated what many consider to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Yet, despite the raging cholera epidemic, widespread hunger, and unprecedented displacement within Yemen, there have been fewer than 100,000 registered arrivals of Yemeni citizens and foreign nationals in the Horn of Africa since the start of the war. Today, roughly 1,000 of these refugees reside in Djibouti’s Markazi camp, where they are now being treated as “permanent refugees.” Who lives in the camp? Why did these particular families and individuals leave Yemen, and what are their hopes for a durable solution? This informal talk will provide an overview of the current situation of Yemeni refugees in the Horn of Africa and of how various aid regimes are constructing their future.

Yemen photos by Giles Clark

23 April 2017. A boy in the ruins of his school in Sa‘da City, North Yemen. According to UNICEF, here are currently over 3 million + children in Yemen who unable to attend school as the war enters a third year of conflict.

The photographer Giles Clark has uploaded a series of superb photos taken in Yemen during a trip with the United Nations OCHA team in April/May, 2017. Here are two samples.

Check it out here.

24 April 2017. Children stand in the ruins of damaged traditional mud adobe building in a small town a few kilometers south of Sa‘da City.

New Book on Yemen and the Gulf States


This book has just been published by Gerlach Press:

Edited by Helen Lackner, Daniel Martin Varisco
Publisher: Gerlach Press, Berlin & London
Hardcover, 143 pages
ISBN: 978-3-959940-30-6
Publication date: October 2017
EUR 85 / GBP 80

More information on the title and the order form can be downloaded from here:

Title Information with TOC:

Order Form: