AIYS at MESA 2015

sanaa yemen rebels rally

AIYS will be well represented at MESA 2015 in Denver, Colorado this November.  We have two sponsored panels as follows:

[P4124] Turmoil and Tolerance: Unpacking the Current Crisis in Yemen   Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm

Yemen is currently in a state of major political transformation with multiple groups vying for power, many of them funded by external powers. Grafted on to the traditional hierarchies of an elite religious group (Sada) in the north, tribes and other traditional groups are numerous new players, including Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, the Huthi movement and the southern secessionists (Hirak). After the fall of President Ali Abdullah Salih, a National Dialogue was held to come up with a new constitution and an improved form of government for a country with acute poverty levels and economic downturns. In early 2015 this process was interrupted with the takeover of government offices by the Huthis and their allies. This panel will unpack elements of the ongoing political crisis with a focus on the role of tolerance in the longue duree of Yemen’s history.

One paper examines the culture of tolerance in Yemen by scholars from the sects of Sunnism, Zaydism and Ismailism with a focus on four major figures: ‘Umarah (12th century), al-Maqbali, Ibn al-Amir and al-Shawkani. In addition to contributing to a culture of tolerance, they were also accomplished poets. A second paper examines the ways in which the historic social and occupational hierarchies in the central and northern highlands were mediated by egalitarian propensities originating in tribal organization and values. It is argued that an underlying egalitarian heritage has helped fuel the demonstrations of 2011 and developments since then. A third paper provides a linguistic lens, exploring the implications of providing constitutional recognition to the Mahri and Socotri languages used in Yemen. A fourth paper provides a discursive analysis of relevant literature circulated by the Huthi movement’s rhetorical alignment of its tribal and sectarian identities with a growing public search for national agency from implications of U.S. war on terror.
•    “Mediating Social Hierarchies in Yemen’s Highlands” by Najwa Adra
•    “Huthis and Tribes: Prospects for Tribalism in a Huthi-Controlled State” by Marieke Brandt
•    “U.S. Drones–Houthi Responses: A Critical Reading of Ansarullah’s Resistance Politics in Yemen” by Waleed Mahdi
•    “A New Era for Language Diversity in Yemen: Mahri and Socotri in the new Yemeni Constitution” by Sam Liebhaber

R4123] What’s Happening In Yemen  Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am

This roundtable, sponsored by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, will feature a senior Yemeni diplomat who participated in the National Dialogue (2013-2014) and will discuss the most recent developments in Yemen. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the GCC brokered an agreement in 2011 for the stepping down of President Ali Abdullah Salih after a rule of 23 years of both the former Yemen Arab Republic and the unified Republic of Yemen. President Salih was granted immunity and allowed to remain in Yemen. The GCC agreement called for an interim government, over which Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was elected President. Strife continued in Yemen between the Huthi movement in the north, tribes allied with Islah (the Muslim Brotherhood party in Yemen), the Salafis, al-Qaeda and the Hirak movement in the south. Foreign intervention also continued, with drones from the United States attacking al-Qaeda targets and claims made that Iran was aiding the Huthis. The border with Saudi Arabia also became a contentious issue, with widespread smuggling of qat (a stimulant plant used in Yemen but banned in Saudi Arabia) to support the Huthi movement. In September, 2014 the Huthis took control of major government offices in Sanaa and in January declared an interim government of their own after the resignation of President Hadi and his entire cabinet. Events are likely to change in major ways between the writing of this abstract and the time of the annual meeting. The invited Yemeni diplomat will fill in the gaps of events throughout 2015 and will be accompanied with comments by a political scientist and anthropologist with long experience in Yemen.

H.E. Amat al-Alim Alsoswa
Dr. Sheila Carapico
Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco