Tag Archives: Yemen

‘Unhappy Yemen’ in The London Review of Books

‘Unhappy Yemen’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, March 25, 2010

I left for Yemen as Obama was insisting that ‘large chunks’ of the country were ‘not fully under government control’, after Senator Joseph Lieberman had cheerfully announced that it was a suitable target for war and occupation. The sad underwear bomber who tried to blow up the Amsterdam flight on Christmas Day had triggered a new interest in the country, and in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), by claiming that while he was converted to hardcore Islamism in Britain, his crash course in suicide terrorism, mercifully inadequate, had been provided by AQAP somewhere in Yemen.

Yemen is a proper country, unlike the imperial petrol stations dotted across other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, where the ruling elites live in hurriedly constructed skyscrapers designed by celebrity architects, flanked by shopping malls displaying every Western brand, and serviced by wage-slaves from South Asia and the Philippines. Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, was founded when the Old Testament was still being written, edited and collated. It’s true that the new Mövenpick hotel in the heart of the city’s diplomatic enclave is reminiscent of Dubai at its worst—when I was there it was pushing its Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu—but in Yemen the elite is careful and doesn’t flaunt its wealth.

The old walled city was rescued from extinction-via-modernisation by Unesco (and later the Aga Khan Trust) in the 1980s, and the old wall rebuilt. The ninth-century Great Mosque is currently being restored by a team of Italian experts working with local archaeologists who are uncovering artefacts and images from a pre-Islamic past. read more

From the archive

  • Tariq Ali speaks to Sarfraz Manzoor for the Guardian

    March 8, 2011

    Tariq Ali interviewed by Sarfraz Manzoor for the Guardian, March 7 2011 about his life in dissent, student protests and the Arab uprisings.

    On the contemporary events in the Middle East, Ali says, “it restores sense of balance in this world. It’s not all neoliberalism, it’s not all money money money, its not all celebrity politics: here are millions of people taking their destiny in their own hands saying, ‘In order to win all, you have to be prepared to sacrifice all.’ That is what they’re doing in the Arab world … It really is the beginning of a phase that might take five or six years to happen but there is no doubt we are at a turning point …

    It rejuvenates you when history is being made, people are out on the streets again, governments are  …

  • ‘Most Pakistanis Don’t Want The Army In Politics’

    April 23, 2012

    Tariq Ali interviewed by Bharat Bhushan for Outlook India, April 23, 2012

    When you look at your original homeland, Pakistan, what thoughts come to your mind?

    A congregation of pain – to quote from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s great poem Aaj ke naam – in Urdu, “dard ki anjuman”. The country has gone from bad to worse. You feel sometimes that things can’t get worse and they do. We first had the effect of military dictatorships on social political life in the country and now we have got a civilian government which is probably the most corrupt government in the entire history of the country. What staggers me is that Zardari is so shameless. On his face you do not read any regret for what he has done and he will carry on doing it till the United States keep  …