Passing of Mutahhar al-Iryani


The much-respected historian, linguistic and poet Mutahhar bin Ali Al-Iryani passed away at 83 years. The Ministry of Culture announced his death on Tuesday, 9 February, 2016. On this sad occasion the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS) extends its heartfelt condolences to his family members.

The late scholar was one of the most celebrated historians and intellectuals in Yemen. He was really a man of great intellect and ingenuity. He had distinguished himself as a pioneer researcher and accomplished historian by his creative work on Yemen’s ancient inscriptions. He had made great efforts to decipher dozens of ancient inscriptions about Yemen’s history and civilization.
He also made substantial contribution to Yemen’s literature. He had authored several books most important of all: “Musnad Inscriptions and Comments”, in which he decoded old inscriptions written in Yemen’s old alphabetical letters known as Al-Musnad. His second significant book is: “The Yemeni Linguistic Lexicon”, which included thousands of vocabulary of different Yemeni dialects that can’t be found in other Arab dictionaries.

Al-Iryani also contributed along with the two professional historians Dr Yusif Mohammed Abdullah and Dr Husayn Al-Amri to verifying two famous Yemeni books. ” Shams Al-‘Ulum” by Nashwan ibn Sa’id Al-Himyari and “Feature of Yemen throughout ages, from 7th B.C. to 19th A.D”.

The late, Mutahar Al-Irayni has been very famous as a creative poet as well as a historian. He had composed dozens of poems and lyrics considered to be of first-class Yemeni modern poetry. A number of his patriotic and emotional lyrics were put into music by Yemen’s most popular singers. These include” Love and Coffee”, “Al-Balah” and ” He Stood up and Bid Farewell “.

Contributed by Dr. Salwa Dammaj

The Yemen Quagmire


Amat al-Alim Alsoswa

The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) are pleased to host a program examining the conflict in Yemen, the humanitarian impact of the war, and prospects for a political settlement.

Friday, February 12
12:001:30 pm

Johns Hopkins SAIS- Kenney Auditorium
1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Panelists Amat Alsoswa (Former Yemeni Cabinet Member), Leslie Campbell (NDI), Andrew Plitt (USAID), and Charles Schmitz (MEI) will discuss the deepening complexity of the conflict, the growing humanitarian crisis, the challenges of delivering aid to a suffering population, and prospects for peace talks and an end to the fighting. Daniel Serwer (MEI and SAIS) will moderate.

Panelists Biographies:
Amat Al-Alim Al-Soswa
Former Assistant Secretary General, United Nations and Former Yemeni Cabinet Minister
Amatalalim Alsoswa had a six year tenure at the United Nations, serving as assistant secretary general, UNDP assistant administrator, and regional director of UNDP’s Arab States Bureau. While at the UN she developed strategic frameworks promoting reconciliation and democracy during periods of political transition in the Middle East and guided UNDP’s regional strategy in response to the Arab Spring. As the first female cabinet minister in Yemen’s history, she established and oversaw her country’s human rights ministry from 2003-2006. She was also Yemen’s first female ambassador, accredited to Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands and as permanent representative to the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. From 1997-1999, she was undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Information and chairperson of the National Women’s Committee. Following the end of the Saleh government, she participated in Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) as a member of the state building team charged with developing a constitutional framework for a democratic transition in Yemen.

Leslie Campbell
Senior Associate and Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa Programs, National Democratic Institute
Leslie Campbell has 25 years of experience in international development, parliamentary governance, and political affairs. He joined the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in 1994 and has directed the institute’s programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since 1996. As NDI’s senior associate and regional director, Campbell has overseen a vast expansion of NDI’s programs in the region with the establishment of offices and programs that assist political, civic and governance reform throughout the Arab world. He is a frequent guest and commentator on Middle East issues for major news outlets and has written a number of articles and papers on the subject of democracy in the Middle East. Campbell has guest lectured at American University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, and Harvard’s Kennedy School as well as having served on task forces and study groups on Middle East democracy at the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the United States Institute of Peace.

Andrew Plitt
Director, Office of Iraq and Arabian Peninsula Affairs, U.S. Agency for International Development
Andrew Plitt holds the rank of counselor in the senior foreign service with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and currently serves as the director of the Office of Iraq and Arabian Peninsula Affairs (ME/IAPA) in USAID’s Middle East Bureau in Washington, D.C.  Previous to his appointment as the ME/IAPA Director, he served as the director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Operations (SPO) in USAID’s Asia Bureau, serving the Asia and Middle East regions. Plitt has been with USAID since 1991 and has served overseas in Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Morocco, Jordan, and West Bank/Gaza. He has also served as the director of Financial Policy and Overseas Support in USAID’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer in Washington, DC. Prior to USAID, he worked for Ernst & Young and Price Waterhouse.

Charles Schmitz
Professor of Geography, Towson University and Scholar, MEI
Charles Schmitz is a scholar at The Middle East Institute and professor of geography at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he has taught since 1999. He is a specialist on the Middle East and Yemen. He began his academic career as a Fulbright scholar and American Institute for Yemeni Studies fellow in Yemen in the early 1990s. Schmitz’s current research interests include the political economy of development in Yemen, international law and the counter terror policy, international governance and failing states, and the sociology of contemporary Yemeni society. He is the author of numerous articles and reports, including Failing States or Failing Politics (Hurst Publishers, 2014), and Building A Better Yemen (The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012). He has also been published in Politico, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs, among others.

Daniel Serwer (Moderator)
Professor of Conflict Management and Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations,Johns Hopkins SAIS, and Fellow, The Middle East Institute
Daniel Serwer is a senior research professor of conflict management and senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, as well as a fellow at the Middle East Institute. Formerly vice president for Centers of Peacebuilding Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (2009-2010), he led teams there working on rule of law, religion, economics, media, technology, security sector governance, and gender.  He was also vice president for Peace and Stability Operations at USIP (1998-2009), where he led its peacebuilding work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and the Balkans and served as executive director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group. Serwer has worked on preventing inter-ethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq and has facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans.