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Guest Thinkers

Press Freedoms

In what one can only imagine was an awkward and stiltedly polite conversation, “Information Minister Hassan al-Lowzi has met with a delegation of Human Rights Watch headed by Joe Stork, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division, who (is)currently visiting Yemen.”

Human Rights Watch will almost certainly confirm the obvious- in the shadow of the northern and southern rebellions, there has been a massive crackdown on the press, as has been chronicled extensively here and elsewhere (but why go elsewhere?). Leaving aside the hideous moral implications or stifling press freedom, the crackdown is strategically bankrupt for the government. This isn’t Saddam’s Iraq, for a couple of reasons. Following unification, Yemen saw a lively and largely free press flourish- there were restrictions, but there was also debate and criticism. The people are used to that, and the closing of papers and shutting down of circulations only feeds into the central narrative of the three rebellions: that the government is illegitimate.

Additionally, one can no longer hide a shutdown; there is just too much information available. Salih is shooting himself in the foot. No one will think the southern issue has gone away. You can’t hide it anymore. In the name of “preserving unity”, they are only opening up the gaps even further.

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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