Ruling Yemen gets even more complicated

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who once described ruling Yemen as dancing on the heads of snakes, has stayed in power for three decades through a clever mix of money, tribal ploys and government corru

In Yemen, the truth is a casualty of war

Reporting from Cairo and Sana'a, Yemen

The terrorist who's dead is still alive.

A perverse contradiction? No, just another day in the Yemen news cycle, where rebels, separatists, extremists and government officials conjure a surreal world of spin, lies and propaganda. It makes one wonder if reality exists at all in this cruel and beautiful land.

Yemen to Get Limited Attention at London Conference

SAN'A, Yemen (Jan. 26) – The international community had better work fast. The portion of this week's conference in London meant to address Yemen's multitude of problems is scheduled to last only two hours.

US lends firepower to Yemen fight

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni policemen sprinted up a rocky dirt road, firing AK-47s, lobbing grenades and detonating explosives at a cinderblock house, a supposed Al Qaeda hideout.

The scenario was fake, but the firepower very real, as U.S. and U.K. military trainers put local counterterrorism forces through their paces northeast of the capital one morning recently.

The 200-person counterterrorism police force is trained daily by the foreign commandos, according to a Yemeni soldier who addressed a small crowd of journalists invited to watch the training.

Al-Qaida Closely Linked to Yemeni Tribes

SANA'A, Yemen (Jan. 14) – As the Yemeni government steps up its fight against al-Qaida, its task is complicated by the militant group's longstanding, familial and often intimate relationship with Yemeni tribes.

"You cannot have a conversation about al-Qaida in Yemen without having a conversation about the tribes. It's a natural alliance," said Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a journalist with sources in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. "Both tribes and al-Qaida are socially and morally conservative, both like to acquire weapons and both are at odds with the formal authority."

Yemen: the Weakest Link

The executive order signed by President Barack Obama on 22 January 2009 commits the United States to shutting the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay within a year. It is a clear victory for civil-rights advocates - but one that throws into sharp relief the persistent dangers posed by weak and failing states, and the inadequacy of United States policy towards them.

“Abu Jandal, In the name of Jihad…”

Nasser al Bahri, 36 years old, calmly disclaims all names given to him: "terrorist" by the United States, "infidel" by Islamists, embarrassing persona for Yemeni authorities, and role model for the younger generation… "So which one would you like to talk to?" the Yemeni asks. The former bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden has come to terms with the entirety of his experiences, but taken one by one in the context of the path he's taken and the apprenticeship he's received.

Obama's Next Arab Headache

Barack Obama's foreign-policy advisers must be hoping that Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is ready to pull a rabbit out of his mashadda. If Obama is determined to close Guantanamo when he takes office, he'll have to strike a deal with Saleh over repatriation conditions for dozens of Yemeni men who are currently stuck in diplomatic limbo.

Yemen: ‘Trust in God but tie your camel first’

The British think-tank Chatham House (also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs) published my paper on Yemen last week. Claire Spencer, head of Chatham House's Middle East programme, chaired a round-table discussion for an invited audience, including representatives from the UK Foreign Office and Arab diplomats.

While Watching the Somali Pirates...

The capture of a Saudi oil tanker by Somali pirates has focused attention on the lawless waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. This year's spike in pirate attacks is not just a reflection of Somalia's chronic instability, it's also symptomatic of an unstable region. An illegal economy is flourishing in the Gulf of Aden, with smugglers trading weapons, fuel and people between the Horn of Africa and Arabia.