Yemen: Assessing the Threat

After the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253 in December, Yemen again became the focus of US and international counterterrorism policy. A flurry of media reports in January gave the world a glimpse of this fragile country, sliding disastrously towards collapse.

Through their long-term project, "Yemen: Assessing the Threat," reporters Paul Stephens and Haley Sweetland Edwards will explore the complex politics, society, and history of Yemen, with the goal of providing a more in-depth understanding of this often misunderstood nation. While the international media is primarily focused on the terrorist threat in Yemen, policy makers will have to work to solve the numerous other crises contributing to the country's instability.

At the start of 2010, Yemen faces a number of challenges. The government is battling an on-going insurgency in the northern provinces, a separatist movement in the south, and renewed concern over Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a branch of al-Qaeda active in many regions of the country.
Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world, must also absorb record numbers of refugees fleeing Ethiopia and Somalia, at a time when its own unemployment rate is over 35 percent. In the background, a growing water crisis, dwindling oil resources, and widespread malnutrition loom large.

South Yemeni separatists continue agitating for secession

The southern parts of Yemen were part of the independent, pro-Soviet nation of South Yemen until 1994.

In these southern provinces, opposition to the central government is growing. Some fear that the rebellion may be turning more violent and that increasing instability in the fragile nation could create room for Al-Qaeda to grow.

Supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, freelance reporter Paul Stephens reports on the latest developments from Sana'a, Yemen.

Yemen's Economy Bullish, But Where's the Money?

SANAA, Yemen — On the streets of Sanaa, an angry crowd gathers around a gas delivery truck. Children run down the alleyways rolling gas canisters in front of them, men wave their money at the deliverymen and veiled women who have been standing in line for hours shake their heads in exasperation.

Rollerblading Trumps Jihad, French Say

Perhaps it was the spandex shorts.

When a group of about 200 young people gathered to watch two-dozen or so foreigners rollerblading their way down the road, joint pads and shiny black helmets glinting in the afternoon sun — and yes, an occasional glimpse of spandex — the looks on Yemeni faces ranged from delighted to quizzical to astonished.

Of course, given the group — students and the disabled — had been bussed into the capital for the occasion, there was much cheering and waving of Yemeni flags, too.

Alleged 'American Jihadist' Made Way to Yemen

Sharif Mobley, a 26-year-old New Jersey man suspected of being an al-Qaida member, reportedly shot his way out of a Yemeni hospital Sunday and into American headlines.

"It was like the movies," said Zaid al-Olfah, who was visiting a family member at the aging, Soviet-style building in the Yemeni capital on Sunday. "There was shooting and smoke coming out the windows and down the hallway." The window of Mobley's former hospital room is still blackened.