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Reporting from Yemen

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Alistair Burnett Alistair Burnett | 16:15 UK time, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Is Yemen - the Arab state bordering Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia - on the verge of collapse?

Displaced Yemenis at a campThat is a question which is beginning to push its way up the international agenda as the country is wracked by two insurgencies, an internal refugee crisis, food shortages and fears that al-Qaeda could return to a country which seemed to have driven them out a few years ago.

Observers have been trying to bring the crisis in the country to the world's attention for some time, but it has received relatively little media attention.


Part of the answer is that it has been overshadowed by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by the piracy in the Indian Ocean emanating from its neighbour Somalia.

This means foreign correspondents have been diverted to these stories and also editors back at base sometimes take the view that their audiences/readers can only take so much war and conflict on a day to day basis.

It is also partly because it is not an easy place to report from - it can be dangerous for foreigners with some being kidnapped and killed.

Added to this, the government has not been keen to allow too many journalists access to the areas affected by insurgencies and humanitarian agencies have been reluctant to jeopardise their ability to operate in the country by allowing journalists access to their work - which is one of the ways reporters can travel and report from conflict zones.

But this week on The World Tonight and Newshour on the BBC World Service, Owen Bennett-Jones will be reporting from there and assessing how fragile the country is and whether al-Qaeda can re-establish itself.

Yemen is not the only state in the world that is seen to be in a fragile condition and such states are seen as a cause of conflict, instability and a potential source of terrorist violence, so The World Tonight is planning to hold a conference with the Royal Institute of International affairs at Chatham House in February to look at how some states like Macedonia avoided collapse, while others like Somalia didn't which we will broadcast from.

We hope you find the coverage interesting and informative.

Alistair Burnett is the editor of The World Tonight.


  • Comment number 1.

    Since Aden, the unification of North and South Yemen, and the recent elections, Yemen has never featured very high on the Media news radar.

    It is considered not safe to travel through parts of the country, as local groups control their own 'security'.

    Hopefully this attention will focus the spotlight more closely for the Media

  • Comment number 2.

    Alistair Burnett:

    Thanks, for the excellent blog and, its reporting problems that arise from reporting from Yemen...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 3.


  • Comment number 4.

    An interesting piece of news from Yemen:
    A rich arab businessman bought 100 girls of 17 nationalities and housed them in Yemen as his concubines. After 2 years of sexual exploitation, the girls grouped together and went to court in Sanaa. The shariah court, after looking up jurisprudence books, ruled that the girls would have to pay for a deed of emancipation in order to get free. Due to this inhuman ruling, some people contacted Dr.Shabbir Ahmed of USA, a Quran expert and vocal critic of false dogma in religion. He convinced the court that their ruling was wrong and against the holy book. Consequently, the court ruled in favour of the girls and asked the prince to set them free honorably and gift them a handsome amount. Injustice was averted and 100 girls were saved from sexual slavery. You may verify the facts with Dr.Shabbir & get specific details. His contact information can be found on his website

  • Comment number 5.

    How does this?

    Al Qaeda in Yemen claims responsibility for attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253

    - Random claim from MSM

    Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport ( exclusive)

    - Real journalism with proof, evidence and witnesses...

    What am I to conclude?

  • Comment number 6.

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  • Comment number 7.

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  • Comment number 8.

    Yemen being so close to a affluent S. Arabia is the main poblem, i.e. the world richest nation next to a impovershid Yemen, Muslims in this region are more and more concerend as no wealth seems to be trickling in to their countries, they think that according to Islamic way of life this is unfair (in all fairness it is). Now Al Qaeda steps in claiming to be the saviours to their impovershid way of life promising equity and dignity using the West as the enemies of God. This is a philosophy that is dangerously being proliferated accross the Muslim world, surprise surprise it seems to be spreading out of control. Hence we have no actual major Al Qaeda cell that we can eliminate in any precise location(s) we will be fighting them on all fronts and may not even come close to shutting them down. Solution fight them in similar ways phycologically and irrationaly in every which way we can. Let the oil rich "emirates" pay for this, why burden us for fundings to keep our values in place. It will take decades to undo what G. Bush and his cronies have unleashed on us. I think Yemen will be a major front for us to contend with.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ynda at 5 above.

    Seems that Ynda is the only one who apparentlyy has a grip on this event.

    All people have to do is search 'Kurt Haskell' and ferret around a bit. Especially go to Alex Jones' sites; Prison Planet and Infor wars plus Mike Rivero's

    It must be abundently clear that the flight 253 'crotch bomber' event has a lot more of the "Patsy crotch bomber' odour about it tan being a genuine isolated attempt to blow up a plane. More likely to be a intelligence controlled 'Boog Booga' event to scare everyone and/or get more scanners sold and/or let's go bomb Yemen.

    So who was the sharply dressed man.
    Where are the videos from the airport of the duo.
    How is it that there are reports that he did not have a passport and others, that after an hour one was provided to the 'bomber';
    How is that the FBI denied arresting another man who made dogs ears prick up.
    Then the FBI say the other arrested man was from another flight.
    Then the FBI says that the other man was from flight 253 after all.
    Who videoed the whole event.
    Coincidently, the person who apprenheded the 'bomber' wrote a script on such an event 8 years ago. He also reported that the 'bomber' was, in my interpretation, spaced out. Mind control anyone?

    If you are going to blow up a plane why put the bomb between your legs, has the poor bomber heard of heroes diving on grenades to save all around.

    'Bomber's' Daddy happens to be not only a banker but a bit of a wheeler and dealer in the arms industry. Guess they have him on toast now!!

    So why has Mr. Haskell, now at the stage where he reports that he does not believe his government. Fancy that? Suspicious fellows are Michigan Lawyers!!

    All sound very sus and as followed the 9/11 false flag murders, the Big President wants to go and kick some boogey 'Al-queda' backside in Yemen, and coincidently get control of the relevant gulf and access to the area.

    Naturally, our controlled mainstream media does not want to wake up to a few realities now do they? Oh well, there are a reported 200 'Al-Queda' in Yemen and it will take drones to bomb the whole place to get them won't it BBC.

    Have another fun war mainstream media, bit of justified killing and a bit of theft goes down well with readers and viewers...sells advertising space.

    The BBC should get its top notch investigative reporter on to the Kurt Haskell conspircay allegations straight away.

    Mike Rudin; You there? This sounds just the job for you, pack your bags and have a nice trip to the US via Yemen, lovely place is Yemen.

    Hi Ynda. (:-)

  • Comment number 10.

    @9, Hi Mallestump,

    Indeed - no MSM coverage of a reliable witness of the amazing underpants bomber. Now why does the BBC just never investigate these terrorists acts - well not since the BBC identified that some of the 9/11 hijackers were still alive and the David Kelly affair...

    There are even MPs querying David Kelly's death and the BBC response is... silence!

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hey BBC, better close comments here too, it might get out of control and things might embarrass those who run you.
    Then again, why have a 'comments' section at all? After all, your Bin Laden Conspiracy comments section has been closed down.
    No matter it has been noted over at 911 blogger. Duck over there and see what the Germans are up to in the magazine 'Money Focus', five glossy pages of stuff on 911 ignored by the BBC. You lot worried about a little bit of thermate?
    Anyway, the Christmas flight bomber story in the mass media is still ignoring the report by Kurt Haskell and the report that an Indian was also arrested. No curiosity BBC?

  • Comment number 13.

    My brother is currently working in Yemen and I for one am most grateful for whatever coverage it gets in the news. Alistair, I agree that it is difficult to report from there but I would argue it's no more dangerous than Iraq or Afghanistan - I imagine public demand is a strong driver for what journalists actually wind up covering rather than the risk.. I would bet the majority of readers barely know where Yemen is other than some part of a Middle-Eastern blob on the map.

    Please do continue with as much Yemen coverage as possible - you have at least one very concerned and interested family reading/ watching!

    Craig (South African blogger)

  • Comment number 14.

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  • Comment number 17.

    I feel pity to the Yemenist people. While we are enjoying the fruit of freedom and luxury of life. Yemenist have suffer for many years from unfairness of life.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great Journey. This article is very valuable. My knowledge of Yemeni society is increasing. Thanks for sharing.


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