Monday, April 03, 2006

The (Post) Weekend Reading

Over the weekend one of the 23 escaped convicts turned himself back into Yemeni authorities, making six of the 23 that are now back in custody. News Yemen has a blurb.

The convicts originally escaped on 3 February by tunneling through the floor of their prison cell into a neighboring mosque. On 26 February in an interview with al-Hayat, President Ali Abdullah Salih said that he was in contact with the men and believed they would be back in custody soon. Soon, of course, is a relative term throughout much of the world, but particularly in a country that claims an "Hour of Solomon."

Also, an enjoyable profile/interview with Rushdie's wife, which Arts & Letters Daily has already linked to, as have I. Here.

And finally, two more things on Yemen. First, 60 Minutes did a lead-off piece on Nasser al-Bahri, bin Laden's former bodyguard, who they insisted on calling Abu Jandal throughout the entire thing. Besides interviewing al-Bahri, they also interviewed a former CIA official, who had worked on the "Bin Laden Team." Neither was very well done, and it looks like the producer didn't do his/her homework - 60 Minutes seemed not to be aware that al-Bahri's brother-in-law is in US custody in Guantanamo. In my opinion one would get much better information out of a 10-part series al-Quds al-Arabi did in March 2005 with al-Bahri. The only thing 60 Minutes brought us was al-Bahri's opinion that bin Laden was determined to attack the US again. Big surprise. But really do read the al-Quds series of interviews, great stuff that should probably be translated into English at some point, as a sort of memoir-through interview of a foot soldier in al-Qaeda. The first of the ten is here. (Ok, I lied, al-Quds al-Arabi seems to be having a problem with their search engine, but as soon as it is up and running I'll link to the interviews.)

And finally, an interview with yet another Yemeni presidential candidate, with Hassan M'awdh of al-Arabiyya. I don't know a lot about the candidate, Rashida al-Qayli - she is usually described as an "Islamic writer," in the Yemeni press for whatever that is worth - and I haven't had a chance to read the interview, but here it is.


At 8:35 AM, Blogger cairobrian said...

Girls can't run for President in Yemen, can they?

Actually, this whole "eventually stepping down from power" thing for Ali Abdullah is kind of sad. After the spectacular way his two predecessors left office- the drug-and-hooker-filled motel room and the exploding suitcase- it just seems, I don't know, unpatriotic to just leave office.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger al-Zabaniya said...

Girls have always ruled Yemen - don't forget Bilqis and her legs, and Solomon's trick to get her into the sack.

Al-Qayli is actually the second woman to "declare," and she has some big names on her campaign, including a member of the al-Iryani family.

As for un-patriotic, I don't think you want to Salih that after everything he's done, what with shelling the Bilqis Cinema and all - he's done his part. It is time for the kids to have a chance.

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Mohammed al-Harithi said...

what is the hour of solomon? who is bilqis? why is that confusing to me if the cinema that salih shelled was also called that?

At 5:46 PM, Blogger al-Zabaniya said...


The Hour of Solomon is the end of the day in north Yemen, and traditionally when the qat chew comes to an end. In the words of Tim Mackintosh-Smith, himself an avid chewer, it is the hour when time refracts and bends outside of man and nature.

Bilqis is the ancient queen of Marib, who traveled to visit Solomon. The king cleverly tricked her into bed, and their child Menelik, went on to rule Ethiopia.

President Salih, according to Dresch, is remembered as motoring down Abd al-Ghani street and shelling symbols of leftist progress like the cinema and Bilqis cinema during the fighting of 1968.

The cinema, like many things in Yemen, is named after the famous queen.


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