The latest issue of al-‘Usur al-Wusta is now available for free until the end of December. This includes an article by Varisco on dialectical diversity in Yemeni dialects. You can download a pdf of the issue at the new Middle East Medievalists (MEM) website.
ليس اغتيال الدكتور محمد عبد الملك المتوكل حدثاً استثنائياً في الساحة السياسية اليمنية التي طالما شهدت عمليات اغتيال لسياسيين وقيادات عسكرية، وكانت أكبر موجة اغتيالات تلك التي طالت الحزب الاشتراكي، أثناء الأزمة التي لحقت الوحدة عام 1990، وبدأت منذ 1991 واستمرت حتى 1993، وأودت بحياة أكثر من مائة كادر حزبي نشط، معظمهم من محافظاتٍ شمالية، وكانت أحد أبرز تجليات هذه الأزمة، وسبباً أساسياً لانعدام الثقة بين طرفي الوحدة وانفجار الحرب الأهلية عام 1994. ومن عمليات الاغتيال الفردية تلك التي قضى فيها الأمين العام المساعد للحزب الاشتراكي، جار الله عمر، في ديسمبر/كانون الأول 2002، وهو مهندس تحالف أحزاب اللقاء المشترك. وتمت الجريمة أثناء إلقاء عمر خطبة في المؤتمر العام لحزب التجمع اليمني للإصلاح، حيث تم انتقاء التوقيت والمكان بعناية، لنسف فكرة أحزاب اللقاء المشترك في مهدها.
هل تعد عملية اغتيال المتوكل فردية، بحكم الطبيعة المعتدلة للرجل، والتي تقربه من جميع أطياف الحياة السياسية اليمنية، على الرغم من خفوت نشاطه، بعد حادثة الموتورسيكل التي أصيب فيها في ديسمبر/كانون الأول 2011؟ أم أنها كانت عملية اغتيال ضمن موجة اغتيالات طالت الكوادر السياسية الزيدية المعتدلة، بعد اغتيال الشخصية السياسية الزيدية، الدكتور عبد الكريم جدبان، في نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني 2013، ثم الدكتور أحمد شرف الدين، ممثل “أنصار الله” في مؤتمر الحوار الوطني في يناير/كانون الثاني عام 2014؟
تجمع جرائم اغتيال المتوكل، وقبله شرف الدين وجدبان، أن ثلاثتهم شخصيات سياسية زيدية معتدلة، وإن اختلف المتوكل عن الآخريْن بأنه لا يمكن وصفه من مناصري جماعة الحوثي، أو أنه شخصية تمثل المذهب الزيدي. فالرجل يصعب تصنيفه سياسياً، ويمكن، تقريبياً، ومن التعريف العام للحزب الذي أسسه “اتحاد القوى الشعبية”، اعتباره شخصيةً تتبنى قيماً منفتحة وديمقراطية بمرجعية زيدية، حيث كان يحاول تفسير النصوص الدينية الإسلامية بشكلٍ يتناسب مع قيم الديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان. والأهم أنه كان مقرباً من جميع التيارات السياسية، وأكثر ما يميزه حضوره الشخصي الودود والمتواضع، وكان، في الأزمة الأخيرة، مناصراً للحوثي، وبرر له أفعالاً كثيرة، وانتقد بعضها. Continue reading اغتيال المتوكل وأزمة الزيدية
Obama calls it a “model” for fighting terror. So why didn’t anyone notice last month’s coup?
By CHARLES SCHMITZ, Politico Magazine, October 15, 2014
Nobody saw it coming. On Sept. 20, Yemen’s Huthi movement executed a political coup so stealthy that the world hardly noticed, and so momentous that local commentators are dividing modern Yemeni history into before and after the Huthi assent to power. The Huthis, a Shiite-led rebel group with a power base in Yemen’s far north, have been waiting for this moment since the early 2000s, when their civil rights campaign was forced to take up arms in self-defense.
The Huthi coup is not only reshuffling the Yemen political deck, but also regional political calculations, particularly in the Arab Gulf, because the Huthi maintain good ties with Iran. And it poses problems for President Obama’s war against Yemen’s al Qaeda affiliate.
Over the last six months, Huthi militias extended their control over regions adjacent to the Huthi stronghold in Saada, 230 kilometers north of the Yemeni capital Sanaa. They wrested leadership of the powerful Hashid tribal confederation, destroyed military units allied with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islah Party, and ousted their Salafi opponents from the Dammaj Valley, a few miles southeast of Saada. Finally, the Huthi descended upon Sanaa, destroyed the last remaining military units loyal to Gen. Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, the once-powerful commander of the 1st Armored Division, and his allies in the Islah Party, and took control of the Yemeni government without much resistance – and surprisingly little international coverage.
Continue reading Who Lost Yemen?
AIYS Vice-President Charles Schmitz has just published a commentary for the Middle East Institute entitled “The Fall of Amran and the Future of the Islah Party in Yemen.” This can be read here.
One of the classic late 19th century travel books on Yemen was by the Italian Renzo Manzoni. In addition to an informative account of his trip to Sanaa, the illustrations are fantastic. The original Italian version, El Yèmen: Tre Anni nell’ Arabia Felice, was published in 1884 and is available as a pdf online at archive.org. Recently the Social Fund for Development has sponsored an Arabic version, also available for free in pdf online.
[P3654] Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants
MESA Annual Convention, Washington DC
To be held Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am
• Written versus archaeological evidence: The example of water and wastewater in medieval Zabid, Yemen by Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer
• Ideal and pragmatic tax law in mediaeval Zaydi Yemen by Dr. Eirik Hovden
• A cultural heritage text from early medieval South Arabia by Dr. Daniel Mahoney
• Coffee and Qat in Yemen: The Historical and Literary Evidence for their Introduction by Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco
• Discussant: Dr. Nancy Ajung Um
Scholarship on Islamic history has paid less attention to Yemen than to Iraq, Syria or Egypt. Despite an important corpus of manuscripts and the publication of several significant primary sources, the historical reconstruction of Islamic Yemen lags behind these other regions. This panel brings together historians who work on various periods in Yemen to illustrate how the current historiography is being made. Archaeological fieldwork on the Islamic era has been limited with the notable exception of the Royal Ontario Museum project on Zabid. Based on the excavation of water works in Zabid, one paper compares the material evidence with the description of water engineering schemes in the 16th century Yemeni text History of Zabid by Ibn al-Dayba’, thus showing the importance of archaeology for fleshing out the tantalizing details in written texts. Another paper focuses on the 10th century multi-volume al-Iklil of the Yemeni savant al-Hamdani, who provides a rhetorical landscape of monuments as an aid in the formation and maintenance of the South Arabian political identity in a fashion akin to modern cultural heritage texts. At the same time, al-Hamdani’s reconstruction of Yemen’s pre-Islamic past serves as a mirror of the politics of his own time, with the retreat of the Abbasid presence and the recent arrival of both Zaydis and Isma’ilis to northern Yemen, more than a century before the Ayyubid invasion. The Zaydi presence in Yemen’s north since the late ninth century is the focus of a paper on the tax policies of the Zaydi imams, especially the tension between the traditional zakat on production and other kinds of taxes. This paper discusses both the theological debate about tax collection and recorded information on how taxes were actually collected. Another paper examines the evidence for the introduction of both coffee (Coffea arabica) and qat (Catha edulis) into Yemen, probably during the Rasulid era. Recent research has resolved the issue of the origin of the term “qat” and there is a need to update discussion of the stimulant in previous sources, including the EI. This paper will examine historical, literary, legal and lexical sources as well as Yemeni folklore. Overall the panel provides both an indication of current research and an invitation for other scholars to help make Yemen’s history as well.
Yemen’s Cultural Crisis: Catastrophe or Opportunity?
MESA Annual Convention, Sunday, November 23, 4:30pm
• Bridging the Generation Gap to Protect Nature in Yemen: Conservation of Nature through Culture by Mohammed Al-Duais
• Cents and (Cultural) Sensibility: How Transnational Political Agendas Condition the Content of Contemporary Theater in Yemen by Katherine Hennessey
• It Looks Good on Paper: Conserving Zabid’s Manuscripts and Intellectual History by Anne Regourd
• Conserving Built Heritage and Landscapes in Yemen: Political and Cultural Considerations for Sustainability by Stephen Steinbeiser and Abdullah Al-Hadhrami
• Chair: Dr. Sheila Carapico
This panel investigates how sociopolitical turmoil in Yemen from 2011 to the present has impacted the production, development, and preservation of culture in domains ranging from the arts to architecture to archeology. Dire political and economic circumstances, as well as other impending emergencies, have largely thrown into crisis efforts to create and maintain Yemen’s cultural heritage. International and diplomatic efforts to stabilize the political situation in Yemen have resulted in pledges of billions of dollars, presumably to shore up a failing economy, combat terrorism and ensure security. Although these are undeniably crucial goals, this panel argues that a brighter future for the country depends more on a holistic awareness and approach to addressing the country’s problems, one which broadens the focus to promote education, the arts, and preservation of Yemen’s immense, but often undocumented and deteriorating, cultural patrimony.
Scholars on this panel will analyze the contemporary challenges to cultural preservation and production in Yemen, and the urgent threats such challenges pose. When possible, panelists will also provide examples of recent successful efforts to protect and support various aspects of Yemeni culture, as well as contemporary cultural production spurred by the Arab Spring, and to suggest ways in which individuals, organizations, and the international community could potentially capitalize on those efforts. The panelists’ areas of expertise will cover a variety of sub-domains under the general heading of cultural production, including but not limited to architecture and restoration; museums and cultural policy; manuscript conservation; environmental awareness; and literature, film, and theater.
One of the most important sources, if not the most important, on the history of the madrasa in Yemen was written by Qadi Ismail al-Akwa‘. An article based mainly on what Qadi Ismail collected is available online in Arabic. Another study by Dr. ‘Abd Allah ‘Abd al-Sallām al-Haddad is available here.
The Yemeni scholar Qadi Ismail al-Akwa‘ has a Facebook page in Arabic dedicated to his life and work.
Facebook has a webpage for the al-Kaff family of the Hadramawt. One of the major historical libraries in Yemen is the al-Aḥqāf Library in Tarīm. An index to this library is now available, as noted on the al-Kaff website. I have not yet found an online index, although there is a listing of Arabic language and grammar texts there.