December 17, 2012
Posted: 618 GMT
A look back at the highlights of 2012 covered on Inside the Middle East.
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Posted by: Jon Jensen
June 5, 2011
Posted: 918 GMT
Effective Saturday night, Yemeni Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi took over Ali Abdullah Saleh's responsibilities as president, Yemeni government spokesman Abdu Ganadi told CNN.
The power transfer comes as a source close to the Saudi government said that the long-time Yemeni ruler arrived in Riyadh around midnight Saturday, a day after being hurt in an attack on a mosque in his palace.
Some Yemeni officials continue to insist that Saleh, who for months has resisted calls to step down, is still in Yemen. Yaser Yamani, Sanaa's deputy mayor, told Yemeni state TV Saturday night that "Saleh is still being treated in the military hospital in Sanaa."
Yet the Saudi source said that Saleh was immediately taken to a nearby hospital after his plane landed in Saudi Arabia. Read more...
April 24, 2011
Posted: 1202 GMT
Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accepted a deal brokered by neighboring Persian Gulf nations to step down, Yemeni officials said Saturday.
Both Saleh and the Yemeni opposition have agreed to the deal in principle. But Saleh has yet to sign the agreement, which stipulates he leave office within 30 days and provides complete immunity for him and those who served in his regime, said a senior foreign ministry official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, said the opposition has to accept the final deal before Saleh will sign.
The agreement also calls for a unity government to be formed within seven days. Read more...
March 22, 2011
Posted: 845 GMT
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a top military general are discussing a deal for a peaceful transition of power that would allow Saleh to stay in place for the rest of the year, a Yemeni official and senior U.S. official said Monday.
The discussions come amid cracks in support for Saleh's 32-year rule after weeks of anti-government protests.
Three top generals declared their support for the protests Monday, including Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the man now discussing the deal with Saleh.
Al-Ahmar, who belongs to an important tribe whose backing is significant for Saleh, also said he will order his troops to protect civilians demonstrating against the president. Read more...
February 8, 2011
Posted: 951 GMT
Yemen's prime minister, Ali Mujawar, on Monday defended his government, saying there is no reason Egypt-style protests should take off in the country.
"Yemen is not Tunisia or Egypt," he said. "Yemen has its own different situation... Yemen is a democratic country. Through all the stages, elections took place. And therefore this is a democratic regime."
He accused opposition parties of "trying to duplicate what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, and act as if it should be imposed on the people here in Yemen."
Last Thursday, thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered near Sanaa University in Yemen's capital. People of all ages chanted and held signs with messages against poverty and the government. Many not only expressed solidarity with the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt but also demanded that Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in office for 32 years, needed to step down.
While the protests in recent weeks in Yemen have been on a smaller scale than in Tunisia and Egypt, analysts say that Yemeni protesters are seeking many of the same things - particularly a government that they feel represents them and that will provide them with more economic opportunities. Read more...
November 9, 2010
Posted: 504 GMT
November 8, 2010
Posted: 1433 GMT
Editor's Note: Ben Wedeman has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than 30 years, and has reported from Yemen.
Yemen is "a hotbed of al Qaeda activity," a "failed state," "the next Afghanistan." Or so we are being told.
Trying to make sense of the uproar over Yemen stirred up in late October by the handful of alleged bombs shipped from Yemen and bound for the United States, I sought the wisdom of people who have been to Yemen, lived there, and speak the language.
One of them is Sheila Carapico, a Yemen expert teaching at the American University in Cairo.
"Some of the intelligence from inside the government and think tanks and other sources in Washington on Yemen is so focused on this AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) entity that they just neglect to get a basic grasp on Yemeni geography and history," she told me.
AQAP is believed to be behind the package bombs, as well as the accused bomber Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who U.S. authorities say tried to blow up a passenger jetliner with an explosive partially sewn into his underwear. He's facing six charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and has pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to blow up the plane.
AQAP's so-called spiritual leader, US-born Anwar Al-Awlaqi, is said to have been the inspiration for Major Nidal Hassan, accused of going on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, a year ago, in which 13 people were killed.
AQAP may be on the lips of the growing army of terrorism "experts" around the world, but it remains, she said, something of an unknown quantity in the Arab world. "Americans recognize the notion of AQAP and think it's a huge threat. For most Arabs, the acronym makes no sense and the organization, if it exists at all, is a sort of shadowy, fluctuating, almost viscous entity."
Indeed, I suspect if you were to go out on the streets of Cairo and ask one thousand people if they knew who Anwar al-Awlaqi is, you'd probably be met by blank stares. It may come as a surprise to some, but the poster demons in the war on terror are largely unknown in this part of the world.
November 6, 2010
Posted: 1141 GMT
I've always been curious what life must be like for women who live behind the veil.
But I never thought I'd be in a position to experience it first hand.
As our team ventured out of Seiyun, Yemen, on our way to Tarim, I found myself pulling out my newly purchased niqab, and looking for help from my bewildered male teammates as to the proper way to adorn this thin and delicate piece of cloth.
After several unsuccessful tries to assemble it myself, our local fixer stepped in to assist. Soon I was looking at the world from a new (and somewhat uncomfortable) perspective.
September in this dry and dusty desert valley is scorching hot.... and being covered from head to toe in all black with only a tiny space for my eyes to glean the sun, seemed to draw the rays directly into me and intensify the already sapping heat that was bearing down on all of us.
The fabric was stretched and tied so tight that it cut across my lower eyelids and when I would blink I would feel its chiffon gently scratching my lashes. And even though I could breathe just fine, somehow this fabric over my nose and mouth made it feel like I could not. It was an unusual sensation to say the least.
But beyond the immediate physical discomfort that I had in some way anticipated, suddenly my senses were bombarded with things I had not.
I immediately wondered just how I would be able to do my job. How can I run if I need to, alongside my cameraman and reporter if I can't even see properly? How can I interview people if one of the main tools of conducting that interview is obscured and hidden from view?
October 5, 2010
Posted: 957 GMT
From CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom
Upon arriving at the Yemen Music House, I was completely surprised. From pianos to guitars, mixing boards to sound booths, everything's available to the aspiring Yemeni musicians who come to this music school and studio. In this deeply conservative country, it’s a haven – not only can women and men sit together here, they can play together too.
Photo CNN/Dane Kenny. Mohammed Jamjoom, producer Gena Somra and cameraman Farhad Shadravan interviewing rapper/producer Nadeem. Also in the picture is rapper Ziad.
Photo CNN/Dane Kenny. Nadeem, who is half-Yemeni and half-Russian, says there's a misconception among Yemenis that hip hop is only drugs, naked women and saggy pants.
Photo CNN/Dane Kenny. Mohammed, Farhad and Gena shooting outside the Yemen Music House that houses a recording studio.
Photo CNN/Dane Kenny. Mohammed Jamjoom talking to rapper AJ, the self-styled Godfather of Yemeni Hip Hop.
And then there was the rapper. The one who had what I can only describe as Sana’a Swagger.
AJ is considered Yemen's godfather of rap. This Yemeni-American fell in love with and started performing hip hop while growing up in the US. When he moved back to Yemen, he wanted, more than anything, to start a movement. But it wasn’t easy.
“When I first came here,” AJ told me, “it was kind of awkward, cause I see they have 2Pac in these stores and they have all these people doing gangsta rap and cursing and they're selling it. But here I am and I come and all of a sudden they want to censor what I have to say. You know, but I know that this is just part of Yemen. TIY – This Is Yemen, you know, you have to roll with the punches.”
AJ encountered many Yemenis who thought only negatively about hip hop. The complaints he heard most often?
“All their sagging with their jeans, it’s half way down their butt,” AJ said to me in a voice mimicking his early detractors.
But there was more: “You know they’re gonna have shows with girls and guys and they’re gonna do drugs and drink and they’re gonna curse.”
AJ was getting tired of trying to counter the misconceptions when he first discovered how to win over locals. Utilizing traditional Yemeni melodies and instruments in his songs is what did it.
“I had a lot of success with incorporating mismar (a wind instrument) in one of my first songs that was very popular,” said AJ, “because I figured, the mismar is used at weddings and celebrations, and it’s sort of like the pied piper. Once you hear it, you have to come out and see what’s going on … And so, I figured, if that works, let me try it with the oud, let me try it with the flute … So far, I’ve been very fortunate.”
Then he realized he’d have to refine his message, and more specifically, his lyrics. According to AJ, Yemeni audiences pay attention to more than just the beat, they scrutinize the words. “They’re really listening,” AJ told me, “So if you're saying something, you have to really say something.”
AJ started writing and rapping about more homegrown issues, like chewing qat and combating terrorism. And in a country with a growing threat from Al-Qaeda and a staggering amount of poverty, he started to feel a responsibility to the next generation.
“I figure 65% of Yemen is under 30,” AJ explained to me, “A lot of the bad things that go on, they use people that are young, insecure, uneducated, and they’ll fill their heads with a lot of nonsense, and some poor kid is out there blowing himself up. Why? Because he doesn’t have anywhere to turn – no one else to turn to.”
Which is why AJ considers the Yemen Music House so important – more than a home base for his country’s aspiring rappers, it’s a place where he can mentor, they can learn – and all of them can rap.
Tune into Inside the Middle East premiering tomorrow to watch Mohammed's full story.
September 18, 2010
Posted: 2133 GMT
*CNN Producer Gena Somra filed this report from Yemen*
Riding along the dusty road through Yemen's Hadramawt valley, I was curious how the day would unfold.
Shibam, the ancient skyscraper city, was only kilometers away. I had read about its rich history, and looked at photographs of its stately skyline, but when the road turned, the view took my breath away.
There before me, after a long and arduous journey, was the "Manhattan of the Desert, " I had heard so much about.
Magnificent, and majestic-the towering landscape reaches skyward, out from the barren earth, and into the hearts of all who are lucky enough to take it in.
Even though our visit was for work, I couldn't help but marvel at what I saw in front of me.
For a moment, I allowed myself to be an awestruck tourist, grateful to see this rich composition and to experience it first hand.
People once came from all over the world to see the splendor of Shibam with their own eyes.
But a single act of terror in 2009 struck more than the South Korean tourists and their guides that were killed when the suicide bomber attacked. Read the rest of this entry »