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Guest Thinkers

Morning Papers: Health and Correcting the New York Times

Oh no. I have long argued that the “old wise men” of Yemeni politics that surround President Salih are dying off and not being replaced. These men have wisdom and intelligence and age, all of which demands that the president listen to them and take their opinions seriously. This is not the case with their successors. This has the effect of isolating President Salih more and more, which is not a good thing in the current environment.

Today’s worrying development on this front is the health of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Abd al-Ghani
, the head of the Majlis al-Shura, a fairly dysfunctional grouping, but still an important one. According to the article he is expected to be taken out of the country for medical attention.

News Yemen reports on Yemeni military units being dispatched to three governorates – San’a, Marib and Shabwa, but not al-Jawf or Abyan – to hunt for al-Qaeda. I have a hunch where the units are from, but since the article doesn’t say I will remain silent as well.

And while it is all al-Qaeda all the time in the US, Yemeni papers are much more concerned with what is happening in Aden, where clashes again have broken around the al-Ayyam offices.

Finally there is this fairly good article by the New York Times’ Steven Erlanger
on President Salih and succession in Yemen but it gets completely lost in the weeds when it claims that President Salih and Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar are not related. This is just not true.

Here is the offending quote:

Mr. Saleh and Mr. Mohsen are not related and are not considered rivals for the presidency. But Mr. Mohsen has signaled that he does not favor a direct succession of Ahmed Saleh to the presidency, diplomats and analysts said. Mr. Mohsen believes, they said, that the younger Mr. Saleh lacks the personal strength and charisma of his father and cannot hold the country together.”

President Salih’s village is known as Bayt al-Ahmar and many of his relatives continue to use al-Ahmar as a surname.

The NY Times needs to do better.

Particularly since it also makes this mistake:

One of his sons, Hamid al-Ahmar, a businessman in his 40s, now leads Islah.”

Hamid al-Ahmar, who I recently had a long and illuminating conversation with, is not the head of Islah. Many people think he eventually will be, but he is not now. And it is just plain wrong to say that he is.


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