Yemen at American Historical Association

Three members of AIYS will be presenting at the AHA annual meeting in New York City this coming Monday.

Late Breaking: Understanding the Conflict in Yemen Through History

Monday, January 6, 2020: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM

Trianon Ballroom (New York Hilton, Third Floor), NYC

Chair:
Les Campbell, National Democratic Institute
Panel:
Bernard Haykel, Princeton University
Gregory Johnsen, Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies
Asher Orkaby, Transregional Institute, Princeton University
Khlood al-Hagar, National Endowment for Democracy

Session Abstract

The ongoing civil war in Yemen is synonymous with a growing humanitarian crisis and a sectarian rivalry between Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Shi’is in Iran. Underlying the difficult photos of starving Yemeni children and cities succumbing to widescale destruction is a conflict rooted in Yemen’s history. The modern state of Yemen, first founded in September 1962 has been reduced to a few hotel rooms in Riyadh, while northern tribesmen representing a bygone and racist social and political hierarchy have taken over the capital city of Sana’a. The “civil war” does not feature opportunistic groups searching for prominence in a fractured political structure in Yemen, but rather consists of groups representing centuries of geographic, religious, ideological, and cultural identities that constitute the very fabric of South Arabian history.

Yemen, however, does not exist in a vacuum. A local change of government in Sana’a has drawn regional and international powers into the political strife, dragging a national struggle into the international arena. The relative dearth of Yemen area specialists has presented both an opportunity and responsibility for historians and other academics to lend their expertise to governments, think tanks, and the general public audience as they struggle to make sense of current events in Yemen. Seldom do historians have an opportunity to reach audiences of thousands, let alone hundreds of thousands, eager to learn about decades and centuries of Yemeni history. Seldom do historians have an opportunity to make history themselves, by applying their historical expertise to a contemporary conflict and playing a role in bringing about a peaceful resolution.This panel features experts on Yemen’s religious, social, and political history. Each panelist will present a historical perspective on a particular aspect of the Yemen conflict and discuss how they have been able to translate their academic expertise to the policy field and to a wider public audience. The panel will also be an opportunity to demonstrate the power of Applied History and how the history classroom can be transferred to real world conflicts.