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Translating Tariq al-Fadhli

Yemen is a confusing place and at times that confusion is used by certain people within the country to further their own agenda. Still, after reading stories like this and this today, which basically says that al-Fadhli claimed that the “Southern Movement” al-Qaeda and the Huthis are all working together against San’a, conveniently putting all of the government enemies on one, what some might call, say, an axis of evil, something seemed just a bit off. (Here is an English overview here.) This way the government can go after one of these, say the southern movement by claiming that it is also going after al-Qaeda. The possibilities are not endless (I’m not a mathematician, but I’m still sure about this) but such a narrative would allow the government significantly more freedom to pursue its various enemies.

It reminded me of the Bay Fang’s false story about al-Zindani in The New Republic (part one was here) – something just wasn’t right.

So I decided to find the interview al-Fadhli gave to al-Qadiya and perform a public service (ok, I have a rather loose definition of service, I was in the Peace Corps after all) by translating the question and answer that has provoked so much commentary.

Here is is in full:

Q: And what about your relationship with the Huthis and al-Qaeda?

Tariq al-Fadhli: We support the Huthis in their rejection of tyranny and oppression. They were not the ones who sparked the war, but rather the regime ignited it and continues to do so in this the sixth war. It is known that the goal of the regime is to convince the Huthis to accept the politics of inheritance which is not in the lexicon of Zaydism and the Huthis refusal to accept this caused the regime to go to war (against them) and to destroy peaceful village which led to the destructive military war. And any regime that allows itself to destroy its land and to kill its citizens in cold blood … (original ellipses) As for al-Qaeda, we are, as a matter of fact, with everyone who joins our ranks and (helps) reclaim our stolen country.

As you can see, or at least as I can see, this is a much more nuanced answer than the one the government newspapers are running with. Not a particularly comforting answer to be sure, but comfort should not always be one’s goal in attempting to understand politics and if it is, one is almost asking to be deceived. Certainly, as I’ve argued before, chaos in Yemen works to the benefit of all of these groups but that does not mean that there is some sort of three-pronged alliance against the government.


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