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Guest Thinkers

Some papers

Today is just one of those days when, try as I might, I just can’t keep my mind on the work I’m supposed to be doing and am instead sucked back down the rabbit hole into the strange world of blogging. I hope some of Waq al-waq’s many, or possibly handful of, fan in Wales heard me say a quick hello on the BBC’s Tea Time program.

Speaking of the BBC, Ginny Hill of Chatham House has a good overview on the BBC. I agree with much of her take, although I would disagree with the point about kidnappings in the capital being a sign of slipping government control. (Kidnappings have been taking place in the capital for a long time, to my mind this is not new.)

She makes a good point about the dwindling number of foreigners, and this is something no one is really talking about. The civilian foreigners are leaving San ‘a and being replaced at, I would guess a fractionary rate, by military personnel. This is not the kind of equation that we should want to see.

I’m less high on the Friends of Yemen, in fact, I don’t think that group will accomplish much of anything in Yemen.

But most importantly, we should all be happy that the British Embassy is no longer in its old building out on Hadda Street, talk about unsecured – anyone remember the shoot-out between the al-Ahmar boys and state security?

Certainly, the British Embassy isn’t as locked down as the US Embassy, but it is in the same family. I remember my visit last year, talk about unfriendly – it was just like being at the US Embassy. Only there was very little for a terrorist attack to grab onto, a small portion of the compound touching the road. Hence, the two attacks this year have taken place on the way to the embassy not at the embassy.

Moving on, News Yemen – which strangely reported a second attack on a British citizen that seems to have been imaginary – writes about Faris Man’a, the former mediator, released prisoner and current gun dealer, escaping an ambush in Harf Sufayn in the north of ‘Amran. The Huthi conflict is warming back up.

While we are on the subject of murky conflicts, let me be clear the two attacks today in San ‘a – despite appearances, were not related – the attack on the British vehicle was an act of terrorism, the murder of the French director and shooting of an Irish citizen was an act of workplace violence. An extreme example, of course, but it does no one any good when the media throws out headlines like two militant attacks on westerners in Yemen. The country has enough difficulties with real problems in their proper categories without blurring the distinctions between separate and distinct acts of violence: motives and intentions matter.

I had high hopes of going into tribal politics and the visit of some Marib shaykhs to Sa ‘dah, an analysis of the recent AQAP video, or even getting into the latest Republican decree, which was printed in al-Sharq al-Awsat earlier this week, on the new religious committee, but the blogging bug is no longer biting.


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