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Guest Thinkers

Poking the Bear

Earlier this year Sultan al-Sam’ai, a MP for YSP from Ta’izz, helped to form the “Popular Movement for Justice and Change,” which as this piece from al-Tagheer points out is more popularly known as the “Mid-Plateau movement.” (I owe the English translation of Hadhba as plateau to a Yemeni friend – hill, elevation and mountain – just didn’t seem to do the trick.)

The movement, which didn’t have the support of the authorities and which according to al-Sam’ai is not a political party, got into a bit of trouble today with a number of its members being arrested. (This is the same article I linked to earlier today, but I thought it deserved some comments and context since no one is writing about it in English.)

I will say that al-Sam’ai’s comments about the authorities wanting to turn Ta’izz into another Sa’dah are a bit overblown, but I think this does get at a worrying trend in Yemen: as President Salih’s grip begins to slip – or just as important – as the impression grows that his grip is slipping, we are going to see more people poke the regime and try to get away with things they never would have been able to in the past. Some of this is just the Yemeni context and the fact that the central government – if that is the correct term – never had complete control over all of the territory within its borders, but I think there is more than just historical forces at work.

This is the beginning of something new that has grown out of a particular tradition, if that makes sense. More and more in Yemen, we will see people and groups like this poking the bear.

Last night Frontline aired the film al-Qaeda in Yemen, which was reported by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad who writes for the Guardian and who, along with Declan Walsh when he was at […]
Late last week Frank Cilluffo and Clint Watts released a policy brief from George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute entitled “Yemen and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Exploiting a […]

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