Saturday, April 29, 2006

Qat and prisoner exchange

The AP style book strikes again in this article about a man pulled over for speeding and found with a great deal of qat. It is likely he'll get off, or at least all of us here at al-Nawadir hope he will - maybe he can aruge it was shami qat.

Also, in this brief from al-Sharq al-Awsat says that Yemen and Saudi Arabia have come to an agreement on prisoner exchange. Earlier, al-Nawadir reported that Yemen was sending 16 Saudis suspected of terrorism back to the kingdom, and now Yemen is getting 11 of its own citizens in exchange.

There is also this well-informed report by the AFP on why Salih will win re-election, nothing really new here, but it is a good brief on the situation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Sheikh returns

(Sheikh al-Ahmar and the Clintons)

Al-Sahwa net is reporting that Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar returned to Sana'a today from his recent medical trip to Saudi Arabia - this should put to rest those unfounded rumors reported by Phillips in a MERIP piece about al-Ahmar saying he was leaving Yemen to President Salih and his sons. It also gives me an excuse to post one of the many pictures from al-Ahmar's photo gallery. (I think I've chosen a dandy - but what is now Senator Clinton doing?)

The Yemeni writers are preparing to recognize the 33rd anniversary of the death of Muhammad Abd al-Wali, one of my favorite Yemeni writers. 'Abd al-Wali was killed in a plane crash in 1973 in South Yemen, but his shadow and influence still hangs over Yemeni politics. In 2000, the weekly paper al-Thaqafiyya - which used to be much better than it is now - re-serialized one of his novels, Sana'a: Medina maftuhah, or Sana'a: An Open City. Unfortunately, al-Nawadir's favorite sheikh, 'Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, issued a fatwa declaring that both the publisher and 'Abd al-Wali were infidels because of one of the lines in the book that says God is unfair.

There was a big crisis that eventually resulted in his books being banned, which I can attest is still the case. However, with some perseverance and a bit of luck one can still find copies of Sana'a: An Open City in a certain bookstore in Sana'a, just like I did not too long ago. 'Abd al-Wali is now available to readers of English in this translation, which I highly recommend.

In other news from Yemen: it is sending 16 terror suspects to Saudi Arabia. Here is an English brief on it here, and one from al-Sharq al-Awsat here.

Update: Yemenis in Guantanamo

The Yemen Observer is saying that there are at least 105 Yemenis in Guantanamo. This differs slightly from the 137 that al-Sharq al-Awsat reported in today's edition. The brief suggests that there are more than 105 Yemenis in Guantanamo, but that they aren't all named in the report. Here is a story from the Independent on the 558 people the Pentagon named.

More later, hopefully.

Also for anyone interested in a good laugh, read the al-Quds al-Arabi story on al-Zindani escaping yet another assassination attempt from April 25. (The PDF file is no longer available, but the link above will still provide the story.) I finally got a chance to skim it, and it seems that al-Zindani's house has been a gathering point for "crazy people" in recent weeks, and three assailants blended in with the crazies in an attempt to knock off the sheikh. One guy even had a big stick. How the sheikh ever survives is beyond me.

Other highlights from the article: al-Zindani's brother-in-law has written articles that have aided the US in targeting al-Zindani. Neither the name of the brother-in-law or the publication in which he published are mentioned by name. A council of religious scholars in Mecca has approved al-Zindani's married friends fatwa, which according to the story was originally issued 25 years ago in Germany - it only came back into circulation in 2003 after al-Zindani gave an interview to the magazine: لها I am not familiar with the magazine - but al-Zindani discusses the fatwa in much more depth in a 2003 interview with al-Hayat, which I'm currently going through.

Yemenis in Guantanamo

Very little time here, as thesis defense is on the horizon, and a number of deadlines still to be met in the next week. I had wanted to write more about al-Zindani and the married friends fatwa, but that will have to wait for a later date. I had also wanted to write about Martin Amis' recent short story in the New Yorker and the upcoming piece on 'Amr Khaled in the New York Times' magazine, but all will have to wait.

Today, there are only two short briefs courtesy of al-Sharq al-Awsat. The first says that the head of Egypt's mukhabarat, 'Amr Sulayman, was in Yemen yesterday talking with Salih. The second says that a source has released the number of Yemenis in Guantanamo. The grand total, according to the story: 137.

Monday, April 24, 2006

al-Zindani escapes again

(Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani - from al-Quds al-Arabi)

There is not a great deal on Yemen in Tuesday's Arabic press, as it is rightly given over to the horrible bombings in Egypt. However, there are two pieces by Khaled al-Hammadi in al-Quds al-Arabi. One is in the Arts and literature section on poetry in Sana'a. The second is on one of al-Nawadir's closest friends, Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani. According to al-Quds al-Arabi there was yet another assassination attempt on the Sheikh, which makes 3 in only a few months. The article also talks about al-Zindani's "Married Friends" fatwa, which as it happens I am currently writing about.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Qat and other weekend news from Yemen

(A Qat chew in Yemen - from al-Arabiyya)

A busy weekend in Yemen, much of which I have yet to have time to digest. However, I have focused my attention on two stories. The first, is from al-Arabiyya on an explosion in the Shumaila qat market in Sana'a which, according to the story, killed 2 (not three as some outlets had it) and wounded 16. For one, I don't believe violence should ever be a part of buying qat. Sure there is a certain degree of pushing and cursing as one attempts to get the best price from some top-notch Hamdani qat (if one is in Sana'a) but still a hand grenade into a market that is just wrong. I remember once, during the petrol riots of 2005, when I braved burning cars and fighting in the street to make it to my favorite qat market. Of course, it was open and full - and I was able to spend the rest of the afternoon chewing in the old city as reports of the fighting came in. The point being: nothing should interrupt an afternoon chew. (Al-Arabiyya also has a longer story about qat, which I hope to read over the coming week - in my spare time, of course.)

Also, the 8th of the escaped suspects that escaped in February has now turned himself back into authorities. The trickle has been slow, but bit by bit the escapees are being returned. Here is a report from the AP (I assume written by al-Hajj, who usually does a good job.)