On Monday, October 24, 2011, I will be delivering a lecture entitled “What’s Happening in Yemen?” at the Portland campus of the University of New England in WCHP Lecture Hall at 6 pm. For more details click here.

This talk will focus on the impact of the “Arab Spring” political protests that started in Yemen, located at the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, in February. These led to unrest that brought the country to the brink of civil war and economic collapse. Yemen has been ruled by a military leader, Ali Abdullah Salih, who came to power in 1978. In 1990, North and South Yemen were united, followed by a brief civil war in 1993. Before the recent protests there was a secessionist movement in Yemen’s south and an open tribal rebellion near the border with Saudi Arabia. In the past decade the United States has given millions of dollars in aid to President Salih to theoretically combat al-Qaida in Yemen. Questions addressed include the influence of conservative Saudi-backed salafism, the nature of Yemeni tribalism, the role of youth and students in protesting for their own future in a democratic Yemen, and the exaggerated fears about Yemen as a terrorist haven. President Salih once remarked that ruling Yemen was like dancing on the heads of snakes. Now that the snakes have bitten, what is next?