Misunderstanding Realities of Yemen

photo by Tik Root


TheBusinessOfGuns-invertToo often Yemen is portrayed as an ungovernable, barbaric, backwards country, where tribes are waging perpetual war against the state and Al Qaeda is recruiting at an enormous rate. While certain elements of this may be true, it is a preconception that displaces reality. The vast majority if Yemenis are not terrorists or fanatics as we are led to believe. (So sad, I even have to write that statement) Instead, Yemenis are farmers, venders, teachers, students, artists, and many more other things who have endured many years of resistance, revolutions and liberation.

Here are the 10 myths I found to have shaped the corporate media’s narrative of Yemen:

10. Al Qaeda has taken over Yemen.

9. They all carry AK-47’s, what’s up with that? They’re either militants, or..shit militants, RUN!

8. Wow, they’re so poor. We don’t have poverty in the U.S.

7.  Tribes: we’re talking like powerful gangs, right?

6. Yemeni men are harsh oppressors of Yemeni women. Our men are so awesome!

5:  Thank god for the uprising! There’s progressive women!

4. They all chew that green stuff, Qat. Let’s get high with them!

3.  The National Dialogue Conference really helps Yemen build a democracy.

2. Water Shortage, see #4 then blame #4.

1. Yemen, TOO COMPLEX TO UNDERSTAND, go back to #1-9 ,report on any of those and your article will be published. .

Unfortunately, it’s  AQAP and terrorism thats dominating the media coverage of Yemen and whats worse now is that it’s even becoming something associated with Yemeni culture. Ansar alshariaa or Al Qaeda are indeed a group of scary deranged men in Yemen and should rightly be seen as such. Yet, while their ideology found some ground in a country whose social economic was deeply ruptured by a corrupted government, their dark and deranged ideologies are still as alien to most Yemenis as they are to anyone in the West.

So while mainstream and corporate media like to call Yemen “ A failed state” or “Yemen on the brink”” most who have ever lived or visited Yemen recall, rather, a beautiful country with hospitable people who have a more nuanced perspective of a country that is indeed troubled (like many other’s including the United States), but find comfort in their history who have been yearning for freedom, dignity and a civic state. The least we can do is acknowledge that, and if we can, smash the myths and help protect the dreams and aspirations of the Yemeni people.

Check out these two great articles about Yemen beyond the headlines




A Ban on airstrikes approved in Yemen


A Transitional Justice proposal that would prohibit drone strikes and criminalize extrajudicial killing in all its forms (drones/cruise missles/cluster bombs, etc) has reached it’s final stage at the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen. According to Baraa Shiban, an NDC delegate and Reprieve’s Yemen Project Coordinator, said the proposal was  passed  yesterday with 90% consensus. The passing of this proposal proves that the Yemeni people are convinced that allowing an international and national military solution to what is, at heart, a political problem, can only serve to escalate the “conflict” and create more human suffering for all.


Yemeni consent: Journalists and analysts, citing cables released by Wikileaks, say that Saleh had tacitly supported U.S. drone strikes. “We will continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours”.

Ousted by a popular uprising in 2011, U.S. Backed dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh  signed a GCC initiative (supported by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.) which gave the transfer of power to his Vice President, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. President Hadi consented publically to the drone program and the strikes intensified.

Arguments were made  that President Hadi allowed for these strikes, and therefore the drone program was legal, but how does one person who was placed as president not even by the people get to speak on behalf of a whole nation? a whole nation who disagrees with him about the program wholeheartedly, declaring that US strikes  kill hundreds of innocent civilians, destroy homes and hospitals and are therefore illegal, counter-productive and violate their right to life.

Now that the TJ proposal has been approved, the Ministry of Legal Affairs must draft a law that reflects the approved proposal and a follow-up committee from within the NDC but follow through with an accountability process.

Will the Obama administration respect the Yemenis right to self-determination?

Probably not.  In the absence of Yemeni consent, the US might continue their airstrikes and draw the “legal” argument of self-defense in response to AQAP ( as a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001). The U.S. will also probably just continue to invent new laws to justify their unjust practices, they’re usually really good at that.

Let us  speak and act in global resistance  against this racist, imperialist, repressive war and stand in solidarity  with the people living under drones abroad in Yemen and Pakistan and domestically within U.S/Mexico borde. Let’s work together towards the social justice and liberation we all seek to live for.

10 Reasons you should be OUTRAGED on the Drone Wars:


10. Bombing civilian communities and destroying homes, schools, hospitals, and pharmacies, is a form of terrorism. Saying oops and labeling them collateral damage is not OK. They are human beings with stories and histories. These are War Crimes.

Ex. On Dec 2009, a U.S. Tomhawk cruise missile hit al-majalah, a village in Yemen and dropped cluster bombs all over, killing  14 women including 5 pregnant woman and 21 children (the youngest child was only a one year old.) The cluster bombs resulted in two more deaths a year later after it exploded and injured15 more. No one killed in that massacre was even considered a “militant”. In other words: this was a war crime.

9. It took Diplomatic cables for the U.S. to finally admit they were launching airstrikes and waging a war in Yemen. They’ve been lying to you despite using your money to pay for these wars.

8. An overabundance of resources including $11.8 billon dollars from our taxpaying dollars are being used to murder innocent people  with drones instead of funding critical needs in our communities (Education, jobs, healthcare, etc)

7.  Broken families or separated families result from our wars, women and children are the most impacted.

6. There is a 50:1 ratio, which means there is somewhere around 50 civilians killed for every “militant”.

5. It’s not just drones that are being used,  U.S. airstrikes have involved cruise missiles, cluster bombs,  Yemeni planes and other weapons of war. For $1.5 millon our government can either buy 1 Tomahawk Cruise Missle and kill innocent people or it can save at least 30 neighborhood schools from closing in D.C., Chicago, Florida and wherever else we’re shutting down our schools!

4. Check out the spending breakdown of Drone and Arms manufacturing companies and you will see how our politicians benefit from creating wars. Large number of our congress members have also invested their own money in drone manufacturing companies  doing business with the government that profit from the death and destruction in Yemen and Pakistan.

3. It is RACISM at it’s finest; four Americans would never have been targeted if they were not colored. In other words, if you have brown or black skin, you do not have the same rights as a white person and the government sees nothing wrong with killing you. After nearly two years they’ve finally admitted to the assisination

2. Using drones at home will give more legal power to do racial profiling(stop & frisk), surveillance, detentions and lock ups.

1. HYPOCRISY: What if a Russian drone came to your hometown and flew over your skies 24/7 and one day the drone striked and killed 10 of your neighbors and 1 family member and left several others severely wounded because of “suspicious activity”…. What would you do? Because, right now, we are those people creating those experiences abroad. Terrorizing and traumatizing whole communities, physically and mentally and we won’t even apologize.

Let us strengthen our resistance against the increased drone attacks abroad and also the attacks on our communities at home and stand in struggle and solidarity with Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Palestinians, and wherever else our brutal government is dropping bombs. We must resist these imperialistic wars.

**I put the word“militant” in quotations because the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as militants.

Faces of Yemen

*Republished from La Voix Du Yemen, For the full photostory please visit  lavoixduyemen

Everyday we see hundreds of people throughout the streets. Whether on our way to work, home, running errands, meeting friends or family or just taking a stroll.  As we walk pass these people, we give very little thought to the stories their faces have to tell.

From the dabbab (mini bus) driver to the artist on the street, every single person has a story.  These faces capture diverse emotional moments, reminding others that Yemenis are not just numbers and that their presence is undeniable.

Rooj Alwazir is a Yemeni-American organizer in Washington D.C., and co-founder of SupportYemen

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Injustices and prejudices

Unreported tortures
Eyes too blind to see the reality

This is the real story of mortality

Indefinite edition, Torture and the War on Terror

12 years after 9/11, this remains the new normal

With stares from every face

 Humiliating searches, interrogation and incarceration

To justify their imperialistic wars

Forced into silence from human ignorance

For arrogance of the color of our skin

And the religion we chose

Speak and the end may come your way

Voices are not made to speak the truth

Unwritten and unspoken

This is the story of islamophobia

At what cost?

Carlos Latuf

Carlos Latuff


What’s the new name they’ve got now?

To justify the killing, the murder of little Zahra

Without a shiver, bang bang.

He shoots, everything collapses.

Labeled just another collateral damage,
Just a young little girl, no one thought she’d be next.

People fighting over the technology used

But mama could care less

They just killed her last baby girl

They try to legalize the proper way to kill and

Tell me,  “Hey now, be ‘technically’ correct when describing her killing”

A drone? A cruise missile?

Her body clustered in a pile on the floor,

Unable to act, unable to move,

I couldn’t give a damn what was used

Murder, that’s what I know.

Humanity is so far away from people’s hearts

Bombing from up above to satisfy their patriotism and lies,

With total disregard for other peoples lives

Totally passive and apathetic,
our inhumanity and brutality
Letting the elite become beyond the law,
Beyond authority, and beyond accountability

At what cost?

Drawing Collateral Murder


A Yemeni child

Is drawing something in the sky

A bird? A plane?  What the hell did he just draw?


Drawing drones like those

which nearly killed him

The strikes have left him without an eye

and a face with brutal injuries and

 harsh marks of angry pain

 He draws planes

With a lost eye

He draws planes


He draws and he draws,

And he draws some more


Who did this?

Why did they do this?


A plane there and there

A plane everywhere.


They have so many planes

There’s no where to go


Under his bed

Still drawing, still searching

Why are these planes falling ?

Why didn’t they think of the people below?

Me and my brother khaled?

And mama?

what did we do?

 Left in broken pieces. Every one alone.

They’re happy now?

A bird, a plane, what the hell just went by?