DILI, EAST TIMOR — I ought to be familiar with the Houthi, the Shia militia that’s now conquering most of what’s worth taking in Yemen. After all, the Houthis started in Saada Province, just a few miles due south of Najran, Saudi Arabia, where I was living a few years ago.
But the truth is Yemen was totally closed off to everyone in Najran, and no one except a few networks of smugglers and spies who, from what I heard, had a very high attrition rate, dared to cross that border. None of us expat goofs even knew the name of the Yemeni Province across from us. Yemen was that country from whose bournes no traveler returns, unless he’s hoping to get rich from an SUV full of weed—and what with the, you know, beheadings for drug dealing and all, we were pretty much a straight-edge crew in our time there, figuring to make up for lost time when we got home. We knew nothing about what was over the border except that every day there seemed to be a new convoy of car-carriers loaded with brand-new Land Cruisers with the logo of the Saudi Border Patrol rolling into town. The Saudi authorities were clearly nervous about that border, even back in 2011….
…Arabs are reduced to choosing which Allah and which Emir to support because a half-century alliance between the worst oligarchies in the West and the most reactionary elements in their countries wiped out the alternative. That’s why it’s so grotesque to hear right-wingers blaming the Arabs for the lack of commitment to democracy and even more ridiculous that Leftists demand respect for fascist thugs like Islamic State, as if they were the voice of the Muslim people.
These sectarian wars are what’s left when you’ve killed everybody else who was attempting to provide Arabs with an effective, secular, modern existence.
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I can’t recommend this piece highly enough. The author, in explicating the factors that brought Yemen to its current state, sheds light on the historical events that led to the ongoing chaos in the ME.