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Guest Thinkers

Parsing and Paraphrasing

I respect Abdul Hameed Bakier’s take on Islamists and al-Qaeda, and I’ve always gotten along well with him, but for me this article is lacking his usual nuance, which often makes his analysis illuminating.

Again, as I’ve argued on this blog, I think it is a mistake to suggest that al-Qaeda is in favor of secession as much as they are making a play for the disillusioned, frustrated and angry population of the south. Essentially, al-Wahayshi is saying: ‘Look, we’ve been telling you for years that the Yemeni government is an oppressive bunch of crooks, now that you’ve finally realized that you need to join us and fight for Islam, which is the only way any of us will ever have justice.’

Or, at least that is my hip paraphrase of what he is saying.

I also don’t think Bakier has any evidence to support his accusation in the last line that al-Qaeda has penetrated Yemen’s various security organizations. This is an accusation one hears frequently from exiled opposition journalists and right-wing bloggers in the US, but none of them have ever produced any evidence besides the allegation, which they seem to believe holds simply because they don’t like President Salih’s regime. Still, the accusation is fairly serious, and I think it is rather reckless to throw it around in a piece without any evidence or even a footnote. But maybe I’m just hyper-sensitive because I used to write for Jamestown.


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