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 takes on “Any Questions?” on BBC Radio 4

    November 5, 2010

    Tariq Ali joined Jonathan Dimbleby in Leeds as a panellist on BBC Radio 4‘s “Any Questions?” show, with journalist Peter Hitchens, Sayeeda Warsi, Chairman of the Conservative Party and Jack Dromey MP. The panel answered topical questions including those on housing and civil liberties.

    Visit the BBC Radio 4 website to listen to “Any Questions?” in full.

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • ‘The London Bombings’

    July 8, 2005

    ‘The London Bombings’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, July 8, 2005

    There was no public transport in London yesterday afternoon. The underground system was closed and the police were advising people not to go near central London. Casualties are in the hundreds and there are many deaths. The first reaction to the rush-hour bombs on the underground was to suggest they were caused by an electricity surge. Then a tourist bus blew up in Russell Square, in the vicinity of the British Museum. It was obvious that this was no ‘electricity surge’ but the return of terror attacks to London.

    During the last phase of ‘the troubles’, the IRA targeted mainland Britain: they came close to blowing up Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet when they bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton during a Conservative Party Conference. Several months  …

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • ‘A Political Solution Is Required’

    September 17, 2001

    ‘A Political Solution is Required’ by Tariq Ali for The Nation, September 17, 2001

    On a trip to Pakistan a few years ago I was talking to a former general about the militant Islamist groups in the region. I asked him why these people, who had happily accepted funds and weapons from the United States throughout the cold war, had become violently anti-American overnight. He explained that they were not alone. Many Pakistani officers who had served the United States loyally from 1951 onward felt humiliated by Washington’s indifference.

    “Pakistan was the condom the Americans needed to enter Afghanistan,” he said. “We’ve served our purpose and they think we can be just flushed down the toilet.”

    The old condom is being fished out for use once again, but will it work? The new “coalition against terrorism” needs the  …