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

  • The Obama Syndrome reviewed in the Kathmandu Post

    January 5, 2011

    The Obama Syndrome reviewed by Anthony Wentzel for the Kathmandu Post, December 24 2010

    Normally, I wouldn’t recommend judging a book by its cover. But in the case of Tariq Ali’s latest release The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad, the image on the cover speaks volumes about the ideas contained within. A surreal picture stares back at the viewer: the face of US President Barack Obama, but with a fragment missing. Where the missing fragment of Obama’s face should be is an all too familiar grin, that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Ali’s thesis is established even before the first page is flipped: Obama does not signal a departure from the status quo of American politics, but instead represents a continuation of the policies of those who ruled  …

  • 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.

  • ‘Thinking of Edward Said’

    December 24, 2007

    ‘Thinking of Edward Said’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, December 24, 2007

    I think of Edward Said often, especially, but not only, when I read of the sordid deals in which the PLO is engaged with Israel and its US backers. I miss Edward’s impetuosity and righteous indignation. He would have had no truck with the shrivelled little Bantustans that the PLO wants to accept and would have morally destroyed the apologists for such a scheme or those intellectual fellow-travellers who think that defending the idea of a secular Palestine means remaining silent on the US-EU embargo on Hamas and who, exhausted by years of struggle and the receipt of handsome cheques from some corrupt NGO, are yearning for an accommodation with the enemy on almost any terms.

    Already in his last writings Edward Said had supported the  …

  • 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.

  • In Turkish Kurdistan

    November 16, 2006

    ‘In Turkish Kurdistan’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books (Diary), November 16, 2006

    It was barely light in Istanbul as I stumbled into a taxi and headed for the airport to board a flight for Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in eastern Turkey, not far from the Iraqi border. The plane was full, thanks to a large party of what looked like chattering students with closely shaved heads, whose nervous excitement seemed to indicate they’d never left home before. One of them took the window seat next to my interpreter. It turned out he wasn’t a student but a newly conscripted soldier, heading east for more training and his first prolonged experience of barrack-room life, perhaps even of conflict. He couldn’t have been more than 18; this was his first time on a plane. As  …