The Yemeni Conundrum

Tuesday, February 28 at 4pm I attended the lecture with Mustafa Bahran titled “The Yemeni Conundrum”. Bahran is a visiting professor from the University of Sana’a in Yemen. He began by presenting a general overview of the country, citing facts about Yemen’s physical size, population statistics, and religious composition. He showed photos from various regions of Yemen such as Hadramut, Aden, and Sana’a in order to display the diversity of flora, fauna, architecture, and customs that exists in Yemen. The first twenty minutes of the lecture could be described as aggressively nostalgic.

After the introduction to Yemen, Bahran described the political history of the country. He talked about the unification in 1990, the civil war between the north and south in 1994, and the southern movement of 2007. I enjoyed the way he presented the conflict in Yemen because he refrained from making overly positive or derogatory comments about any of the actors currently involved. He explained how former president Saleh introduced democratization efforts, how the Houthis had legitimate concerns, and how Hadi had been the last democratically elected president and therefore had a serious claim to power.

I appreciated the unique perspective he offered having served as the Minister of Electricity and Energy and as a cabinet member. He analyzed the various actors involved in the conflict as being at fault in some way. The most interesting part for me was when he discussed how local warlords and low-level criminals are fighting for both Hadi’s side and the Houthis’ side and are focused only on making money at the detriment of the Yemeni people.

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