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 : “Moi, l’athée, devenu un expert de l’islam !”

    October 14, 2011

    Interview with Le Monde, October 13, 2011

    Sa haute silhouette s’encadre dans la porte. Mèche au vent, moustache poivre et sel, regard de braise, Tariq Ali reçoit chez lui avec un mélange d’élégance et de décontraction. Nous sommes à Highgate, dans le nord de Londres, dans une bâtisse néogothique que ses amis ont baptisée “Château Tariq”. Pour taquiner le militant trotskiste qu’il fut jadis ? Sans doute. Mais à quelques pas de là, au cimetière de Highgate, se trouve la tombe de Marx. Allez croire au hasard…

    Ce jour-là, Tariq Ali – 68 ans le 21 octobre – est d’humeur exquise. Après l’interview, il ira à la piscine “nager une heure, comme tous les jours”. Et puis, une fois n’est pas coutume, on ne vient l’interroger ni sur ce qu’il reste de la gauche radicale britannique (New Left), ni sur  …

  • 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.

  • ‘Pakistan Needs a Triple Bypass’

    July 23, 2009

    ‘Pakistan Needs a Triple Bypass’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books (Diary), July 23, 2009

    June is never a good month on the plains. It was 46ºC in Fortress Islamabad a fortnight ago. The hundreds of security guards manning roadblocks and barriers were wilting, sweat pouring down their faces as they waved cars and motorbikes through. The evening breeze brought no respite. It, too, was unpleasantly warm, and it was difficult not to sympathise with those who, defying the law, jumped into the Rawal Lake, the city’s main reservoir, in an attempt to cool down. Further south in Lahore it was even hotter, and there were demonstrations when the generator at Mangla that sporadically supplies the city with electricity collapsed completely.

    As far as the political temperature goes there is never a good month in  …