Saturday Papers: or More Kidnapping News
Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
It now appears that contrary to many initial assumptions, including my own, the foreigners kidnapped last week were known as missionaries and were involved in some proselytizing in Sa'dah. This quote is from Spiegel Online (English, as I have no German):
"The Foreign Ministry's task force is now assuming that the Germans were known locally as missionaries."
Meanwhile, Fox attempts to force the tragic events into domestic politics - there is a lot of cutting and sawing in this story as it is forced into a box. This is what happens when someone tries to read everything through the prism of domestic politics without really understanding what is going on in Yemen. The article is framed in a very unhelpful way for people attempting to understand what is going on in Yemen.
Even though I am quoted in the piece, long-time readers of this blog will know that I don't believe the following to be true:
"In addition to last week's kidnappings, he is believed to have been behind the September attacks that left 16 dead at the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital of San'a."
Meanwhile, al-Masri, Yemen's Minister of the Interior, held a press conference and made two basic points. 1.) The foreigners were warned against heading out of town without an escort and 2.) the Huthis did it.
He also suggests that the remaining six may still be alive. But none of these reports, at least from what I'm hearing, are that credible. There are also some in the Yemeni government, who are attempting to get him to soften his comments implicating the Huthis.
Al-Quds al-Arabi has coverage of the press conference here. Personally, I don't see how the Huthis benefit from such an operation, but then I'm not involved in a war against the Huthis, which may cloud my judgement.
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