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Wednesday Papers: or al-Sharq al-Awsat (Updated)

One of the things I have noticed over the past few years is that when it comes to the big three pan-Arab dailies – al-Sharq al-Awsat, al-Hayat, al-Quds al-Arabi – it is al-Sharq al-Awsat that most closely mimics US and western reporting trends, at least on Yemen.

The paper routinely translates (sometimes poorly) articles from the NY Times, Washington Post and LA Times and runs them the day after they appeared in the US. I don’t think this is necessarily good or bad – it just is. (Well, ok, I think al-Quds al-Arabi has more “gets” than either of the other two, although my knowledge of al-Hayat is rapidly diminishing as I’m often too frustrated with its new website design to actually find my way clear to reading the paper.)

This is all a long introduction to saying that al-Sharq al-Awsat has kicked off a new series on Yemen today, with its first part on al-Qaeda and the countries youth – which is not surprising particularly in light of the increased press Yemen has been getting in the US.

The thing is nine pages long, which means I have yet to read it, but as I’m far behind on a number of projects I wanted to link to it now, before it gets lost in the shuffle. I’ve never heard of the author, Abd al-Sitar Hatitah, so we’ll see what sort of contacts he has. I’m willing to suspend judgement even in the face of the mistake in the front page teaser, which labels Abu Hurayrah al-San’ani (Qasim al-Raymi) as the Amir of al-Qaeda – he is actually, now, a military commander in the organization. Still, I don’t think Hatitah writes captions so we will let him slide here.

Also in today’s papers is the identity of the commander, ‘Aidrus Thabit Ghalib al-Sabri, who was killed yesterday in Sa’dah. I tend to agree with those who say that over the past several months there have been enough sparks to re-ignite the conflict – why this has not happened is, I think, an interesting question. The push for renewed fighting, if and when it comes, will come from the government, and why the government has not pushed for another full round of conflict is, at least in my mind, still an open question. I think it is apparent that some – probably on every side – are eager for another round of fighting, but so far they have been unable to push the principal actors into the abyss.

Update: My mess of a third paragraph has now been fixed. Thanks David.


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