Summary of Yemen Endures

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  • Comprehensive
  • Background
  • Engaging


Though lauded for its relatively controlled power transition in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring, Yemen remains a particularly puzzling place for most geopolitical experts. In this study of an oft-ignored nation, London journalist Ginny Hill offers a unique perspective – that of a Western reporter who has spent years getting to know Yemen’s complicated mix of religion, tribalism and outright anarchy. Taking readers from the beaches where Somali immigrants wash ashore to the president’s palace, Hill details key aspects of Yemen’s history and culture, illustrates how the possibilities for reform raised by the Arab Spring were squandered, and argues why the present wars in Yemen will likely endure for years to come. Hill combines an obvious empathy for Yemen with the objectivity of a professional journalist as she hammers home the point that the feeble state routinely fails everyday Yemenis. At times, explaining Yemen’s complexities is too tall a task for even a skilled narrator: Hill’s account occasionally devolves into a murky recitation of exotic locales, obscure names and shifting alliances. Nonetheless, getAbstract recommends this compelling, sober-minded look to those ready for a deep dive into a chaotic and geopolitically important nation. 

About the Author

Ginny Hill is a visiting fellow at the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science. She has covered Yemen as a journalist and policy adviser.



Yemen and Its Starving Populace

Yemen, a nation of widespread poverty, weak government and a heavily armed citizenry, has operated in “a permanent state of chaos” for decades. It’s also a land where the truth is a malleable concept. The three-decade presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh underscores this idea: Saleh’s system of governance was premised on unpredictability and encouraged lying. But politics isn’t the only arena where the lines between truth and lies become blurred in Yemeni life and culture. Three witnesses to the same mundane event are likely to offer three wildly different versions of what happened. Truth is fleeting even during the afternoon qat chew – a staple of Yemeni social life. Yemenis gather to gnaw on qat leaves and talk, but in these conversations, it’s the speaker’s overall demeanor that endears him to the group, not the objective accuracy of his statements. 

Yemen presents many challenges to itself, to its neighbors in the Middle East and to the West. Saleh’s partly democratic, partly autocratic reign resulted in an unstable state, and after his removal by an Arab Spring uprising, conditions for average...

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