Iona Craig is a freelance journalist based in Sana'a, Yemen. The Times (of London) Yemen Correspondent she also writes for USA Today, The Sunday Times and regularly contributes to IHS Jane's, Index on Censorship and others.
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Yemen coverage at BEACON.
Men dance in the streets of the Old City in Sana’a (22/10/2013) during traditional wedding celebrations. Although this one sounded more like a political rally as the slogan of the Houthi movement was chanted at the top of their lungs throughout.
Thankfully the group of European tourists - first I’ve seen here in many months - looking on didn’t seem to have a clue what they were saying.
After more than a decade of U.S. strikes, al-Qaeda’s most notorious offshoot, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is still flourishing in Yemen.
The Yemeni and US ploicy to combat al-Qaeda has so far been solely a military strategy. But community and religious leaders in Yemen’s eastern province of Hadhramaut have been attempting to challenge the dissemination of the groups ideology. Their struggle has been a lonely one, they say with no support from the government
In a speech on America’s counter terrorism policy back in May, Barack Obama himself noted:
“For all the focus on the use of force, force alone cannot make us safe. We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the wellspring of extremism, a perpetual war — through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments — will prove self-defeating.”
Yet none of that rhetoric is being matched with action on the ground.
Military show of force could be more about crushing anti-government sentiment, some say
Reading media reports on Yemen almost every explosion, shooting and act of violence is blamed on ‘al-Qaeda militants’.
Last month I visited Ghail Bawzir in Yemen’s eastern province of Hadhramaut. Ghail was stormed by the army and air force earlier this year under the pretext that al-Qaeda was about to take control of the town. But, as I discovered, those accused of being so-called ‘militants’ are often regular Yemenis standing in the way of profit and power in Yemen.
Above is the link to my report for Al Jazeera America on an alarming example of how far the Yemeni government is willing to go to remove adversaries and quell anti-government sentiment.
Western media coverage of Yemen is minimal, and when it happens, it often focuses on al-Qaeda or drone strikes aimed at militants. ”Everybody sees [Yemen] through the prism of al-Qaeda,” says Iona Craig, a freelance British journalist there, “and actually that’s one of, for Yemenis certainly, one of the least of their problems on a day-to-day basis.”