The ticking bomb...
Last updated: November 6, 2009: If Mohammad does not go to Vietnam...
August 6, 2009
Interesting... For more scares, you should also get Yemen's pyramid.
Source: Flashdance RELOADED (comments section)
August 11, 2009
The New York Times reports that Yemen's bloodiest insurgency, that of the Shiites around Saada, is exploding again while the unrest by separatists in the South is now supplemented by regular ambushes against police. The combined death toll runs in dozens. On top of this, a powerful tribal leader is now openly challenging president Saleh to step down.
Last week, in an interview on Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network, a member of one of Yemen’s most powerful families surprised the country’s political establishment by calling for Mr. Saleh to step down. The man, Hamid al-Ahmar, whose father was one of Mr. Saleh’s most important allies, brazenly said he could speak out against the president — something scarcely anyone dares to do — because his tribal confederation would protect him.
August 14, 2009
The JPost says the last Yemen's Jews, about 250 all in all, are about to leave the country with the majority heading for Israel. You know, it's said that when they are fleeing a sinking ship, this is a sign... Oups sorry. I mean it's said that when Jews are emigrating, this means that things are not good.
Meanwhile the fighting around Saada is reported to be escalating with the city coming under aerial attacks. Al-Arabiya TV showed images of several government tanks allegedly destroyed by Zaidi rebels who cut off a strategic highway to Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, Yemen Post says that the rebels are now in control of all Saada.
And on a bit different note. An article in Yemen Times complains about young Yemenis having not a notion about such things as global warming and climate change.
SANA'A, Aug. 12 — Although Yemen is one of the countries most devastated by global warming, the majority of young people in Yemen are not aware of the meaning of the words ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming,’ say experts.
Source: Yemen Times
August 15, 2009
If the situation in Yemen starts strongly resembling the nearby Somalia, Saudi Arabia may consider in serious to intervene. The Saudis and other Gulf Arabs have many reasons to do something about Yemen, if only to prevent creation of a new mega-Somalia saddling both sides of the Gulf of Aden.
The Saudis also have very valid reasons to want to stay at home and concentrate on building more fences. This Vietnam is a big one. At least in terms of its population, it's almost of the size of Saudi Arabia itself (never mind Aslak's cheerful predictions that Yemen's population may exceed 50 million by 2050).
Wikipedia has the following to say about the released cleric mentioned in the video.
Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad (Arabic: محمد علي حسن المؤيد) is a Yemeni cleric who was convicted on federal charges of financing Hamas, Al Qaeda, and other Islamic terror organizations with tens of millions of dollars. He was also a leading member of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform and the imam of the biggest mosque in Sana'a.
August 17, 2009
I was asked by a couple of people who read this blog about the identity of the rebels of Saada. Very frankly I don't know as I am no expert on Islam. However, from those bits of information I do know, for all practical puproses Zaidis (Zaydis?) are a kind of Sunnis who decided that they are Shias and should follow the fifth Shia Imam. Other than following this Imam there seems to be very little that makes them Shias.
When I say very little it means that they are not in the business of mutilating themselves in solidarity with Hussein or whoever was that guy the Sunnis martyred near Karballah. They don't believe in the hidden Imam and occultation and such stuff usually associated with the Twelver Shias. Given that they are followers of the fifth Imam, I guess that they have simply split too early, before the mainstream Shia doctrines came into being.
Now, the thing that once deeply impressed me about Islam is the nature of all those splits and ramifications. Basically most of them came out of rivalries for the political legacy and authority of Muhammad. Islam is a very young religion and so the issue of who is the true heir was and remains a very serious business. Contrary to what many Israelis would expect from their experience with Judaism, in Islam they first quarelled for power and only then split and invented divergent theological doctrines to cement their rivalries. At least as far as the Shias are concerned all this diversity came out of disputes about which brother should be considered the true inheritor of this or that particular Imam. At the time of the split itself there was usually very little or no difference in philosophy and theology between the two camps. So it worked in reverse in Islam. Power struggles were often driving the theology and not the other way round.
Using an example from European history, it's as if the Protestants and Catholics would have first fought their wars and then each gone to his corner to sit down and look for explanations of why they were actually doing this. The same Oman sitting next to Yemen belongs to another branch of Islam, neither Sunni nor Shia, that sprang from a political dispute the nature of which even with my best intentions I can't comprehend. I admit that some may see this as a very biased interpretation of the history of Islam. This may well be the case, but this will remain my understanding of the matter until I know better.
Anyway, when it comes to Zaidis it's enough to know that unlike other Shias they don't have to wait for any hidden Imam to suddenly pop up. Neither they need any Khomeini to come up with a clever explanation of how an Islamic State can be set up without any Mahdi in sight. The Zaidis don't suffer from such complications and can have their Imamat right here and now. In fact, they used to have one and probably much of this insurgency is driven by aspiration to get another one. This is probably the most important thing you should know about Zaidis. If you think that my introduction to Zaidis suck and is inaccurate, you are welcome to post a better one in the comments section.
November 6, 2009
This is a kind of "If Mohammad does not go to Vietnam, then Vietnam will come to Mohammad". The Saudis came under attack by Zaidi rebels from across the border. The Saudis reportedly evacuated several border towns and moved army units and special forces into northern Yemen.
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