Understanding the Turmoil in Yemen: The Eric Watkins Papers
Yemen is currently involved in significant turmoil, today serving as a battleground in an apparent proxy war between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Special Collections at San Diego State University can add to the understanding of the present situation through its extensive collection of the papers of Eric Watkins (SDSU 1970), whose work over a quarter of a century has focused on key elements of the region’s geopolitics, including the instability that has wracked Yemen for decades and given rise to a variety of international issues, including the al Qaeda terrorist network.
Eric Watkins Papers
Eric Watkins (SDSU 1970) worked as an independent foreign correspondent in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, and the U.S. from 1989-2015. Watkins specialized in oil, shipping and terrorism, with his stories appearing in The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Watkins’ work also appeared in specialist publications like Lloyd’s List, Middle East Economic Survey and Oil & Gas Journal. The Eric Watkins Papers contain Watkins’ stories, broadcasts and photographs during that time, as well as interview notebooks, draft articles, and background sources, along with documentation of his early life, education, and travels as a foreign correspondent.
Yemen News Service
Following the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, newspapers began to flourish as the new country proclaimed its democratic intentions. Still, reliable information remained scarce, especially for many of the oil companies then working in the country. Watkins decided to survey Yemeni newspapers on a daily basis and provide summaries of key stories to the oil companies, along with exchange rates and eventually a political cartoon. The Yemen News Service or YNS was born in May 1992 and remains a completely unique record of the events that eventually led to the outbreak of civil war in May 1994. The Eric Watkins Papers contain the YNS in its entirety from May 1992 to May 1994.
Yemen Civil War Coverage, 1994
Eric Watkins served as the Yemen Correspondent for The Financial Times and the Associated Press. As the only Western correspondent resident in Yemen, Watkins had a unique opportunity to record the key developments. Civil war erupted in May 1994 and lasted until July. Watkins’ stories for The Financial Times and the Associated Press are included in the Eric Watkins Papers, with the key stories from those 70 days of civil war serving as a record of the breakdown of Yemen’s political process and a sign of the future turmoil that would keep the country on edge for decades to come.
The files and photos below reproduce several of Watkins’ stories from his papers pertaining to the civil war in Yemen. They were published in The Financial Times and the YNS and are posted here in chronological order with the permission of Mr. Watkins, who retains the copyright to all his stories.
The Eric Watkins Papers are currently in process.