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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

Released from Guantanamo, Al Qaeda Terrorist Launched Kidnapping Business

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Tag this one under Road, Hell, and Good-intentions…

According to the pro-Saudi publication Asharq Al-Awsat, suspected Al Qaeda terrorist Mishaal al-Shadoukhi has contacted the Saudi embassy in Yemen to claim responsibility for the kidnapping of Saudi diplomat Abdullah Al-Khalidi on behalf of the Al Qaeda organization, demanding an unspecified ransom, as well as the release of prisoners held by Riyadh, in exchange for the diplomat’s release.

Mishaal al-Shadoukhi, who is on the Saudi government’s list of most wanted fugitives, was at one point a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, and among the first detainees to be repatriated to Saudi Arabia.

Following his repatriation, he underwent a state-approved “Munasaha” rehabilitation program and was released.

Saudi Arabia’s “Munasaha” program is designed to get at the roots of terrorism in that country. It looks into the content of sermons, lectures, and religious gatherings in order to persuade people that extremism is not the way to move forward. As Saudi Gazette/Okaz reported, “the program combines the wisdom of a range of academics and experts in Shariah law to explain the ‘proper principles of Shariah law’ and includes women as advisors.” The program travels to areas targeted by the government due to their recent experiences and incidents of terror-related extremism.

Too bad that once al-Shadoukhi was fully rehabilitated, he fled to Yemen, rejoined Al Qaeda, and started kidnapping Saudi dignitaries for ransom.

Air Strikes in Yemen Kill 45 Al-Qaida Terrorists

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Reuters reports that on Saturday the U S drone attacks killed at least 25 al-Qaida fighters, including one commander, while a Yemeni air force raid killed 20 more in the south, sources said on Saturday. These were the biggest air strikes since Yemen’s new president took office.

Al-Qaida forces have increased their operations in southern Yemen while the country was in political turmoil during months of turmoil, anticipating the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was replaced in a February election by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Two al-Qaida fighters were killed late Friday while attempting to set off a bomb at a security checkpoint near the town of Mudiyah in the southern province of Abyan.

J.E. Dyer: Strategic Ambiguity Watch – The Maritime Version

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

No sooner do we establish that (a) Iran wants strategic ambiguity, and (b) Iran’s got it, than we see a fresh round of strategic ambiguity busting out.  Strategic ambiguity looks to be the gift that will keep on giving.

You might think the big news from the last 24 hours would be the report that Iran declined to load a Greek tanker with oil for Greek refineries, thus sparking concerns that the Iranians will cut off oil to hard-pressed Greece entirely.  Tehran has already officially stopped deliveries to France and the UK.  The Europeans are worried that a cut in Iranian oil could sink any hope of a recovery for the Greeks – and that Iran might threaten to extend the embargo to Italy, which also depends on Iranian oil.

In the wake of this report, the Iranian government hastened to announce that it hasn’t cut off shipments to Greece.  So it isn’t clear what’s going on, and strategic ambiguity can check another item off the to-do list.   Gasoline has surged to about $8.10 a gallon in the UK (not yet the $9.00 a gallon being trumpeted by Iranian media), so – check, check!

But that’s not really the big news.  The big news is that the Iranian parliament is working on legislation that would require foreign warships to obtain permission from Iran to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.  How could Iran enforce such a requirement?  Well, that’s exactly the fun of strategic ambiguity.   Maybe they’ll try, and maybe they won’t.  As the Iranians say, ‘it will depend on us.’

Apart from a last-ditch resort to something like mining the Strait of Hormuz (SOH), the most likely Iranian approach would be to take advantage of an incident in the SOH, or even create one, to justify cranking up Iranian oversight of “safety and security” by half a notch or so.  A diplomatic win on that exploratory probe could be leveraged to increase Iran’s effective control incrementally – unless each new measure was directly challenged.  If the US were unwilling to do the challenging, strategic ambiguity would be a lot more fun for Iran than for the rest of us.

You do need a quiescent partner on the other side of the Strait for an oblique approach of this kind.  And sure enough, besides conducting a naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz (SOH) in mid-February, Iran concluded a new naval cooperation agreement with Oman on the 12th, and plans to conduct a joint naval exercise with Oman in March.  Earlier in February, moreover, the Iranian navy’s commander stated that the Iranian naval task force in the Red Sea would visit the port of Salalah, Oman in March.  That would be a first since the 1979 revolution, and would put the Iranian navy in the company of all the other global navies in the region (including the US Navy), which visit the major port of Salalah on a regular basis.  Iran is establishing a new naval posture as we speak.

The new Iranian naval posture extends its strategic ambiguity to Saudi Arabia.  During the Iranian task force’s triumphal sideswipe at Syria – where the ships reportedly entered port, although the Pentagon “has no evidence of it” (see my comment at this link for a summary of data points on the question) – an Iranian parliamentarian announced that Iran was displaying her naval power in the region, as a warning and a portent.  The ships had stopped in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Jeddah on the way to the Mediterranean, so this saber-rattling didn’t sit well with the Saudis.

Therefore, the Saudi ministry of defense has just issued a statement clarifying the basis on which it authorized the Iranian warships to visit Jeddah.  And the salient point is that Saudi Arabia wasn’t down for the “naval warning” business.  The Saudis understood they were agreeing to a port visit for ships on a training cruise.

In general, the Saudis are feeling squeezed by Iran; a Die Welt report from 15 February, summarized at the al-Akhbar website on the 21st, indicated that Riyadh sponsored a Gulf States  meeting in January to discuss Iran’s continued arms sales to Hezbollah.  The Saudis didn’t openly disclose anything we don’t already know about the Iranian smuggling routes, but apparently they excluded Qatar from the meeting, because they don’t consider the emirate “reliable on issues related to Iran.”

Meanwhile, down south of the Saudi border, Iran continues to supply the Houthi rebels in Yemen – a Shia group that operates as a scourge of Riyadh as well as Sana’a.  On 15 February, Yemeni authorities reported intercepting another ship from Iran carrying heavy weapons for the Houthis.  It is accepted fact in the Arabian Peninsula that Iran’s paramilitary operates from islands in the southern Red Sea, supporting activities in both Yemen and Eritrea.  In a recently translated al-Arabiya interview from June 2011, a Kuwaiti professor stated that Iran leases three islands from Eritrea and uses them for military training.

U.S. Senator: ‘If you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States’

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

“If you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States,” said U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, in an unequivocal display of support for Israel as war drums continue to beat over Iran’s nuclear program. “If one looks at most of this world, especially the Middle East, one country stands out as a foundation of stability and as a pillar of democracy,” he continued, “and at a time like this, when you have revolution in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, thank God we have Israel.”

All The Troubles Of The Middle East In One Little Country

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

There is a country in the Middle East accused of conducting a brutal decades-long occupation. A country where a blockade causes starvation among a civilian refugee population. A country that violently cracks down on all opposition and shoots into crowds of protestors but receives substantial financial aid from the United States as an ally in the War on Terror even as it undermines our war efforts by pursuing its own agenda.

We refer, of course, to Yemen.

The country of Yemen, on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, has long been a simmering pot of violence. One conflict is geographic; much of largely secular southern Yemen (which was the independent Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen from 1967 until 1990) claims to suffer from an unwanted occupation from its more theocratic and traditional northern counterpart. This conflict between North and South has long been a sort of proxy between various influences in the region including at one time or another Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis, British, and Soviets.

Another conflict involves the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels on the border of Saudi Arabia near the city of Sa’dah, stemming from an ancient feud that goes all the way back to the rebellion of the Zaydi tribes in 1905.

A third, and much newer, conflict is with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, though some assert the Yemeni government’s stance on al Qaeda is closer to cooperative then confrontational.

In November 2009, the government of Saudi Arabia, which is allied with Yemen against the Shi’ite rebels, placed a naval blockade along the coast of Houthi-occupied Northern Yemen in order to prevent the Iranians from re-supplying their proxy fighters. As former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold noted during the Mavi Marmara incident, there was no outcry against Saudi Arabia or Yemen for that action.

Astoundingly, the purpose of the blockade – to prevent Iranian arms from reaching the area of conflict – was identical to that of the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza which receives such harsh international criticism.

In Southern Yemen, a land blockade meant to put pressure on separatists there has caused dislocation and dwindling food and medical supplies. But unlike the Israeli checkpoints into Gaza, which permit about 15,000 tons of supplies to cross every week, there is no such humanitarianism on display in Yemen. In January, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees asserted that as many as a quarter of a million civilians have been dislocated in Yemen due to fighting.

Yet unlike the Palestinians, who have a billion-dollar-a-year agency (UNWRA) devoted specifically to their needs, the Yemeni refugees were faced with cuts in food assistance when donors could not be found. Those who did contribute were, not surprisingly, largely Western countries, including the U.S. and France, while neighboring Arab states such as Saudi Arabia have provided little or nothing.

Police in Yemen have opened fire on Southern protestors and conducted torture while the Yemeni military has shelled Southern homes with little provocation. American and British flags are often present at demonstrations of secessionist protestors, though they are generally waved in solidarity, not burned as in Gaza and the West Bank.

And while the world screams in protest when Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian houses for lacking legal permits or hiding smuggling tunnels, there was no similar outcry when the Saudis annihilated an entire village, including a mosque, in Northern Yemen during their intervention against the Houthi rebels.

But despite such ham-handed and bloody tactics, American assistance continues to flow to the Yemeni government.

The importance of Yemen in the global war on terror has escalated since American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki fled there. Al-Awlaki was the confidante and spiritual mentor of many terrorist plotters, including three of the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day “underwear bomber,” and was an inspiration for failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shazhad.

Incredibly, though, $150 million in military aid does not even buy the U.S. the ability to extradite al-Awlaki from Yemen in the event of his capture. Yemeni authorities say Awlaki will be tried in Yemen for terrorist acts he may have committed there, even though Yemen’s track record of keeping terrorists behind bars is abysmal at best and conducting jihad against foreigners outside of Yemen is not even a crime under Yemeni law.

Yemen Jews Flee Homes After Muslim Death Threats

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

JERUSALEM – Many of Yemen’s Jews fled their homes last weekend after receiving death threats from Islamic militants accusing the country’s tiny Jewish community of serving as agents for “global Zionism.”

 
The Jews said they feared for their lives. It was disclosed that they had been forced to pay special taxes that Islam imposes on Jews and Christians in return for protection and security.

About 45 Jews left their village in Sa’ada county in Yemen after Dawoud Yousuf Mousa, one of the heads of the local Jewish community, was warned on Jan.10 that if the Jews don’t leave within 10 days they would be exposed to killings, abductions and looting.

Four masked militants approached Mousa and delivered a letter to him warning that the Jewish community had been under Islamic surveillance.

“After accurate surveillance over the Jews residing in Al Haid, it has become clear to us that they were doing things which serve mainly global Zionism, which seeks to corrupt the people and distance them from their principles, their values, their morals, and their religion,” the letter stated.

“Islam calls upon us to fight against the disseminators of decay,” the letter said. The threats have been attributed to disciples of Shi’ite religious leader Hossein Bader a-Din al-Khouty.

Mousa reportedly told local authorities that the militants told him if the Jews don’t flee within 10 days “the Jewish community would bear the consequences.”

According to a recent Yemeni immigrant to Israel with contacts in Sa’ada, the Jewish community there received another letter Friday warning, “whoever remains at his home, will be killed or his children will be taken away.”

Sa’ada’s Jewish community, which had lived in the village for generations, was forced to evacuate their homes and leave some of their possessions with local sheiks.

The displaced Jews are staying at a hotel in the center of Sa’ada, where they have been petitioning local authorities for protection. The Yemen Jews say the government has refused to offer assistance other than to temporarily pay for the hotel stays.

The Jews reportedly spoke of long-term Muslim intimidation and of having to pay special taxes because they were Jewish.

The Jewish community in Yemen consists of several hundred people. According to recent immigrants to Israel, the Yemeni Jews don’t want to leave their country.

Most of Yemen’s Jews were evacuated to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet, a series of semi-secret airlifts between June 1949 and September 1950 that brought 45,000 to the Jewish state with the assistance of Britain and the U.S.

A smaller, continuous migration was allowed to continue until 1962, when a civil war in Yemen put an abrupt halt to any further Jewish exodus. Several thousand Jews remained.

Then in the early 1990′s, after years of petitioning by a group led by Hayim Tawil, a professor at Yeshiva University, most of the rest of Yemen’s Jews were brought to Israel, except the few hundred who decided to stay in Yemen.

Director Of The Jewish Image: Frederic Brenner's Photographs At The Brooklyn Museum

Friday, December 5th, 2003

The Jewish Journey: Frederic Brenner’s Photographic Odyssey – Brooklyn Museum of Art.

200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY; 718 638 5000.

Wed.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.;

First Saturday of Each Month 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun, 11a.m.-6 p.m.,

contribution: $6, students and seniors, $3.

Until January 11, 2004.

 

Jews with Hogs (1994) is the first image one encounters in Frederic Brenner’s exhibition of
photographs of contemporary Jews from around the world currently at the Brooklyn Museum. In over one hundred and forty black and white photographs the exhibition seeks to document the “multiplicity of Jewish identities.” Throughout the exhibition diversity is the keyword. Diversity…hum.

Jews with Hogs is a large vertical photograph of 20 Florida Jews and their motorcycles (hog is American slang for a large motorcycle) posing in front of a Miami Beach synagogue, its name, Knesset Israel, proudly set over the entrance. The juxtaposition of synagogue and motorcycles sets the complex tone maintained throughout the exhibition. These individuals, each identified by name and profession in the accompanying caption: police officer, liquor store owner, real estate broker, accountant, etc, are in fact a perfectly respectable ”gathering” of middle class Jews.

The text panel that accompanies the image tells yet another story in which a professor of Judaic Studies, Julius Lester, questions exactly what common ground he might have with these Jewish bikers. He concludes that “they are Jews and I am a Jew but that we are not Jews in the same way…” And so the issue of diversity is explored…or is it? Perhaps the themes of appearance verses reality or confrontation and irony in photographic images are actually scrutinized. Diversity, if relevant at all, is but a starting point that very quickly splinters into
complex relationships between image, sign, caption, text and commentary.

In the next room the concept of Diaspora is explored in the text panel Lech Lecha: Go Forth. Diaspora is seen as a universal principle of the Jewish people. Perhaps the historical reality of Diaspora creates a disjunctive Jewish ideal even though it contradicts the Biblical text that commands Abraham to go to a specific homeland. For Brenner the Diaspora with its inherent
diversity (that word again) is the paradigm with which to understand the Jewish people. Perhaps.

Frederic Brenner, initially trained as a social anthropologist, has spent the last 24 years visiting 45 countries exploring and documenting Jewish life with his camera. His original impulse was to record simple social phenomena. We see here many beautiful photographs of Jews in Meah Shearim, Ethiopia and in Yemen. Documents. Then in the early 1990′s his methodology
shifted radically. As he observed he also began to interact with his subjects. He would do extensive research and conceive of an image he wished to create. He would then carefully craft each scene, posing his subjects to shape and determine a final iconic image after many preparatory shots. He became a director of the Jewish image.

For example, the first image, Jews with Hogs, becomes more understandable when we compare it with other images in the exhibition that are also concerned with a similar theme; Jews and their Judaism. The Jewish Community of Hong Kong Celebrating Purim (1998) are
all dressed in black Chinese costume, as they proudly pose in front of, peering out of and perched upon their three story jewel of a synagogue. This image brimming with people explores issues of costume, faith and social reality in the multiracial and devoted Jewish community nestled among seven million Chinese citizens of Hong Kong.

Other Brenner photographs also depict the complex theme of Jews and their Judaism. Jewish Arts Festival in Commack, Long Island panoramically shows seemingly secular Jews photographed in front of a backdrop of the Western Wall dressed up in faux Orthodox garb. Another series of photographs depicts Portuguese Marronos performing for the camera “secret” preparations for Passover in a hidden attic. Perhaps most movingly, two photographs show Lewi Faez taken 10 years apart at age six and 16, tracing his journey from a hut in Yemen studying with his grandfather to a bare new immigrant apartment in Israel with his young wife and infant child. Lewi tells us in the text panel how difficult the transition is to Israeli society and how he decided, after the last photograph, to cut off his peyos. For six months his parents didn’t speak to him and “It was hard…[but] I don’t act differently on the outside to what I really am.”

The theme of conflict and accommodation is central to modern Jewish life and one that almost all Jews must struggle with at one point in their lives, if not continuously. Brenner’s use of multiple images, textual captions and commentary along with shifts in time and location create a narrative that explores many sides of these fundamental questions. The issue of cultural
diversity pales in comparison.

Many diverse themes dominate and shape Brenner’s engagement with essential Jewish issues.
Contemporary anti-Semitism is pondered in the brilliant photograph of Billings, Montana, Citizens Protesting Anti-Semitic Acts (1994) while the chilling General David Abramovich Dragunsky, Head of the Anti-Zionist Committee, and His Wife depicts the conundrum of
Jewish anti-Semitism. The complicated history of Jews in relationship to Christianity is posed in Souvenir Sellers (1992) that arrays the exclusively Jewish peddlers of miniature saints and Catholic mementos in front of the Vatican. Additionally the deeply disturbing image of an
intermarried family in The December Dilemma finds no easy solution to the intolerable demands of two faiths in one house. Jewish Outsiders are explored in a prison Seder, Passover 5754, Maximum Security Women’s Correctional Facility while the heartbreakingly ironic Singles Weekend in the Catskills, Concord Hotel (1994) exposes the pain and longing in the search for a Jewish mate.

One can readily see that these images are artfully constructed under the careful direction of the
photographer and therefore are clearly not documents of any existing reality. Rather they are skillful compositions, fascinating tableaus that interact with other photographs in the exhibition to confront the viewer with themes great and small currently challenging the Jewish world.
The relationship between image, title and text defines the actual subject of each photograph.

Mourning and loss are paramount within Jewish life cycle events. Commemoration of Mourning for Deceased Son, Whose Picture is on the Wall (1990) encapsulates the tragic loss of a son in the context of an orthodox Russian family. Mother and father are inexplicably separated by the loss while the sisters standing behind them are drawn together. The departed surveys the scene from the back of the dinning room. We can understand their mourning and loss as they console each other. It is domestic. In a stark contrast the series on Argentinean mothers of “the disappeared” presents us with an inconsolable loss. Their  ”missing” sons and daughters, victims of the 1970′s military dictatorship, are in limbo, their fate feared but
unknown. Brenner depicts the mothers in white hospital gowns against antiseptically tiled institutional walls. Their blank stares and gestures of desperation make them seem insane, indeed they are insane with grief. Their mourning is endless and interminable. Brenner’s depiction compels us to comprehend their loss.

Frederic Brenner’s work is easily the most exciting and intellectually stimulating photographs around today. Coinciding with the exhibition is the publication of the two-volume Diaspora: Homelands in Exile, published by Harper Collins. The book juxtaposes his photographs
with provocative essays by André Aciman, Jacques Derrida, Carlos Fuentes, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Julius Lester, Georges Steiner, and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. His confrontational images are calculated to initially elicit shock and puzzlement. But once he has our attention, the subtle complexity of the images encourages a prolonged engagement with the meaningful content of each photograph. He asks us no more than to simply pay attention and care about the conflicts and struggles of our fellow Jews. There is a genuine diversity
of content in that enterprise.


Richard McBee is a painter of Torah subject matter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to e-mail him with comments at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/director-of-the-jewish-image-frederic-brenners-photographs-at-the-brooklyn-museum/2003/12/05/

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