The Nihm tribe – unbeatable?

Today, news broke (here is the story in Marib Press) of an attack on a Republican Guard barracks near Nihm, northeast of Sana’a. Nihm is a tribe that began to completely embarrass the Republican Guards last May when Nihm tribesmen overran a Republican Guard base. The attack was carried out shortly after the same men managed to shoot down a helicopter en route to their village. While there is some dispute over whether they were  transport helicopters or Russian Hind attack helicopters, one was shot down while two others were forced to land with their pilots fleeing to safety.

No one is sure of what became of those helicopters. Some of us joked that we would run for our live if we spotted three helicopters coming over the mountains into Sana’a, flying and shooting sporadically. The Nihm helicopter trio never cropped up.

In the possession of three new helicopters, they figured, what the hell, lets see if we can get that Republican Guard base. They did. After some negotiation, the base was handed back over to a new commander. Continue reading

In Marib Press

Many thanks to Marib Press and to Abdul Kader al-Guneid for translating and posting my last blog entry for the Marib Press website. I’m really enjoying reading the comments to hear what Yemenis have to say about my writing. Now that I’m back home, that’s a rare privilege.

Here is the link to the article posted in Arabic

الصحفي الأميركي جيب بوون: الحركة الاحتجاجية في اليمن وصلت إلى حالة احتباس مسلح بلا غالب ولا ومغلوب

An armed uprising?

As all Yemen obsessed folks know, following the events unfolding in the region from thousands of miles away is absolutely maddening. When my phone beeps with one of my many Yemen related Google alerts, I leap from a shallow slumber to rush to the nearest electronic device with an internet connection.

It’s ironic to expect the power to be on and to be awoken by an electronic beep instead of an artillery strike in a pitch black room void of electric lighting. In some ways I prefer the explosion, at least I’m put at ease realizing that I’m one of the first to know about it.

Clicking refresh on Al-Masdar online and Marib Press every thirty seconds isn’t healthy but at least it’s good Arabic practice. Continue reading

Mapping tribal Marib and Al-Jawf, from the CTC report A False Foundation? AQAP, Tribes and Ungoverned Spaces in Yemen

Just getting into this report but the information on the tribes in Al-Jawf and Marib alone distinguishes it. I’m just posting the maps of tribal areas in the two governorates for my own personal use and for others who will undoubtedly be referring to these maps for a long, long time.

The author of the report is anonymous but thanks, whoever you are. I don’t know how the hell you researched in Marib or Al-Jawf but congratulations.

Here’s a link to the full PDF http://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/CTC_False_Foundation2.pdf

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Of breweries and Islamic emirates

In the South Yemeni governorates of Abyan and Lahj, there is a mysterious armed force sweeping through territory, creating Yemen’s largest current humanitarian crisis and, reportedly, establishing an “Islamic Emirate”. Whether or not these “militias” or “armed Islamists” are made up of jihadis or AQAP members, we’ll never really know. Yemenis who have fled the violence and are now living in IDP camps in Aden simply say they don’t know who these men are. They wear normal clothes, they speak normally and they’re Yemenis.  The only difference between an Abyani goat herder and these “militiamen” is that one is armed to the teeth and one isn’t.

All this terrorism and AQ jargon has got me thinking. There used to be a brewery in Aden, only about 50 miles from the capital of the supposed Islamic Emirate, Zinjibar.

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What the hell is happening in Yemen? Volume II – until everyone else has starved to death

I was browsing Yemen on google news today and I was floored by what I saw. Not a single news publication really has any idea about what the hell is going on in Yemen. As usual, the wires are all over the place, quoting “sources”. Quoting a “source” is so irresponsible it makes cringe and it doesn’t warrant its own news story. Here are some examples of today’s headlines.

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Searching for electricity in Sana’a

Shady gasoline deals

One of my neighbors in Old Sana’a came by for a chat the other day. I’m sure he was attracted by the electric light that was bursting from my small windows. He’d just returned from a trip to Taiz.

“Sana’a has become a village,” he said, referring to shortages plaguing the capital. Villages often only have power for a few hours a day, run from a generator.

If you’d like to have power for more than a few hours a day in Sana’a, here’s a guide to doing it. Continue reading