For all those out there who have a Facebook page, please join the new AIYS Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/groups/590852444344916/). This Facebook page will be used to provide information about AIYS activities and fellowships. Members can post any information about Yemen they think relevant.
Forget about being banned in Boston (which the Yemeni stimulant qat (Catha edulis) already is), since now it is illegal to possess, circulate or chew qat in China. According to a report in Yemen Press, it seems that the Chinese authorities have been cracking down on Yemenis bringing qat with them at the major airports. This has forced the Yemen Embassy in China to issue a letter to its citizens warning them about the ban. It appears that China is following the lead of Britain, which banned qat in Britain despite the fact that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) concluded there was no evidence that chewing the fresh leaves was harmful.
As is found elsewhere, the fresh leaves of Catha edulis are mislabeled as a “drug” or “narcotic” , as on this website for a drug-free China. There is a market for qat in China, as shown in this youtube video, although ironically it is Ethiopian qat that is being imported.
Anyone who has been to Yemen knows its breathtaking beauty. This beauty is well represented on the Internet. Above is a spectacular image of Sanaa at night from the Facebook Site اليمن بعدسة محبيها
Check out the website for many more photographs, mostly by Yemeni photographers.
Of Transitology and Counter-Terror Targeting in Yemen
by Sheila Carapico, Mouftah, April 22
Far from the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, tucked at the underside of the Arabian Peninsula where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean, Yemen is at the periphery of Middle East studies and beyond the attention span of mainstream American media. It is a counter-terror target.
It is as if this country of some 25 million citizens is not a real place, as much as it is an outer space or a basket case. According to various journalistic tropes, Yemen is a ‘terrorist haven,’ the ‘ancestral homeland of Usama Bin Ladin,’ an untamed frontier where presumably the only choice for the United States is to shoot first and ask questions later.
To the extent there is conventional wisdom on Yemen, it presents the country as host to all manner of problems. It is the poorest and most poverty-stricken Arab country, with the youngest population. The capital city and other metropolitan areas have soaked up all the fresh water. There is an openly irredentist popular movement in what used to be the People’s Democratic Republic of (South) Yemen, and an obscure but persistent rebellion near the Saudi frontier by a group known as the Huthis who the Saudis say are backed by Iran. Yemen is also a sanctuary for a terrorist entity called al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, often abbreviated as AQAP, the target of American drone strikes that occasionally kill hapless civilians. Tribesmen blow up oil installations, block roads, and occasionally take hostages. Most of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo Prison come from Yemen, but even after being cleared for release US authorities are reluctant to repatriate them to their home country.
When it comes to women and gender in Yemen, I see the discussions inevitably alternating between what is happening in politics and then back again to the same old arguments about women’s rights. I think the problem is that we always look at women’s issues from a very narrow angle lens even though we profess to uphold women’s rights, whatever those are and by whosoever’s definition. After working for the past 20 years in development programmes that spanned different agendas and a variety of target groups and where gender analysis always featured largely, I can safely say that this whole concept of gender mainstreaming was introduced to Yemen without being communicated through more cultural-sensitive strategies. The result has been considerable confusion. Because it was introduced by Western agencies, it was sometimes greatly misunderstood, misimplemented and misused by people with vested interests, just as some men with vested interests have misinterpreted the role of women in Islam. Continue reading Gender Issues in the New Yemen
Yemen Webdate is back online, but now as a blog. Yemen Webdate is the blog of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS), an online forum to provide up-to-date and useful information for anyone interested in the academic study of Yemen, especially its history and culture. Posts can be added in any language, including Arabic. If you have something to post, whether news about topics related to Yemen, an article or book you have published on Yemen, fellowships or current events, please send these to the webshaykh at firstname.lastname@example.org. The advantage of this blog is that it can provide information rapidly, so check it out regularly and be a contributor when you find something interesting to note.
[More than 10,000 Yemeni manuscripts have disappeared over the last 10 years, many of them destroyed by extremists opposed to Zaydi-Shiism and its intellectual heritage.]
يعتبر اليمن موطنا للمخطوطات والرقائق القرآنية بامتياز، حيث إن التاريخ والموروث الحضاري العربي الإسلامي بكل تجلياته ، وجد بيئة حاضنة لم تكشف لحد اليوم عن كامل أسرارها وكنوزها النادرة التي لا تنضب .
ورغم تعرض المخطوط اليمني لعملية نهب منظمة إبان الاستعمار البريطاني ، قدرت بأزيد من 60 ألف مخطوطة على الأقل ، إلا أن الوثائق اليمنية غير المكتشفة أكبر بكثير مما سلط عليه الضوء .
وتتوزع المخطوطات اليمنية في العالم بين مختلف المكتبات والمراكز المختصة بشكل رسمي ، فنجد أن مكتبة “الأميروزيانا” التي تأسست عام 1609 في مدينة ميلانو ، تزخر لوحدها بأكثر من 1700 مخطوط يمني في مختلف مجالات العلم والمعرفة ، بالإضافة إلى آلاف الوثائق اليمنية التي تنتشر على مكتبات قارات العالم بأكمله .
ومن المكتبات العالمية التي تحتضن في أروقتها مخطوطات يمنية ، نذكر: مكتبة الفاتيكان في إيطاليا ، مكتبة الإسكوريال في إسبانيا ، المكتبة الوطنية في باريس ، مكتبة الكونغرس في واشنطن ، مكتبة برلين ، المكتبة السليمانية في تركيا ، إلى جانب مكتبات في الهند وباكستان وبريطانيا وإيرلندا. Continue reading Yemeni Manuscripts in Peril
On April 10, AIYS President Daniel Martin Varisco gave a public lecture at Lund University in Sweden entitled “Rebuilding Yemen after the Arab Spring: A Cultural Anatomy of a Crisis.” The talk was sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, directed by Dr. Leif Stenberg. About 30 students and faculty attended the talk.
The abstract of the talk is noted below:
“The Arab Spring that toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya eventually caught up with Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Salih, who was forced to resign in late 2011 after three decades in power. In the aftermath of Salih’s fall, a national dialogue has taken place to rebuild Yemen as a federalist state with a new constitution and eventual election of a replacement for the current interim president, Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi. This talk will lay out the political history of contemporary Yemen, identify the major power brokers in the rebuilding process, analyze the ongoing cultural issues including Yemen’s tribes, survey the critical economic and environmental obstacles facing Yemen’s population and put the role of “terrorism” on Yemeni soil into perspective. I will draw on my experience as a cultural anthropologist who first conducted research in Yemen in 1978, as a development consultant in Yemen over the past three decades and as a historian.”