‘Silence for the Sake of Gaza,’ Mahmoud Darwish


Arabic Literature (in English)

Ibrahim Muhawi’s translation of Journal of an Ordinary Grief (Ar: 1973, Eng: 2010) is dedicated to the people of Gaza. This is from the section “Silence for the Sake of Gaza”:

Gaza is not the most beautiful of cities.

Her coast is not bluer than those of other Arab cities.

Her oranges are not the best in the Mediterranean.

Gaza is not the richest of cities.

(Fish and oranges and sand and tents forsaken by the winds, smuggled goods and hands for hire.)

And Gaza is not the most polished of cities, or the largest. But she is equivalent to the history of a nation, because she is the most repulsive among us in the eyes of the enemy – the poorest, the most desperate, and the most ferocious. Because she is a nightmare. Because she is oranges that explode, children without a childhood, aged men without an old age, and…

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The bottom line in Yemen

 Like many people, Yemenis object to the killing of innocent civilians.

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The Independent Op-Ed, March 12, 2012
by Safa Mubgar

An old Chinese curse runs “May you live in interesting times”. I have come to realise that it is certainly applicable to Yemen – what with the release of the film version of the 2007 novel “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”, and a particularly interesting ‘election’ brought about by a Yemeni style Arab Spring Revolution smoothing the way for a two year transitional period. Happily Yemen is flavour of the month; as opposed to the unfolding tragedy in Syria.

Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi’s acclamation follows a pantomime waltz, choreographed by the international community, that literally celebrated Yemen’s dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power, honouring him, his cronies, and family with the immunity and garlands of gratitude for exemplary service (the 24 million Yemenis who suffered 33 years of this nasty regime can eat cake!) What’s particularly disturbing is that – much like “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” where a surprisingly “good” and “very rich” Arab brings hope and unity to Yemen – a more complex web of international and regional plots, “expertly blended” with a variety of fallacious arguments and petro-cash incentives, brought Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi (Ali Saleh’s Yes-man, ex-Vice-President) to power in an uncontested “election” a few weeks ago.

Yemenis – we’re meant to rejoice, to call it a turning point, celebrate that at least it’s not Syria. You may want to follow the chorus of joyous optimism or simple relief; people did welcome relief from a year long struggle without electricity, water, or security – not that any of these are guaranteed to materialise after this election. although during the election campaign all services were restored briefly!! I, for one, reserve my right to feel cheated. Because nothing fundamental has changed: Ali Saleh’s old clique is still very powerful, and for the majority of ordinary Yemenis (Northerners and Southerners alike), the “new” government is just more of the same – witness the immunity law – But then again, this production was deliberately intended not to bring about radical change to Yemen.

Yet if anything, Abdu Rabo Hadi’s acclamation has led to a more chaotic picture in Yemen. An unsettled hotchpotch where everything is up for grabs – a far cry from the democratic aspirations of the peaceful youth revolution. In this cauldron, Yemen is subjected to numerous powerful forces – Western allies of Saleh, Gulf partners, and Saudi Arabia – all pouring in various influences and seasoning with petro-dollars. Added to this lethal mix is the Yemen’s domestic political clique, oozing opportunism and greed. None wish to see a successful revolution in Yemen, and will undermine it with all they can. For them, Yemen’s transition has to be cosmetic; for the West, this is acceptable as long as there is a kind of calm: shipping undisturbed through Bab al-Mandab, and their interests safeguarded and secured. They spend even more money to keep the lid on things, but nothing further.

In the meantime the embryonic peaceful youth revolution stand alone, peppered with false promises, with support from neither credible political opposition nor middle class to speak of. Ordinary Yemenis are in dire need of honest brokers; instead everyone is keeping silent, as the baking, boiling and frying continues in the Yemeni Kitchen.

By pumping dollars into the Yemeni economy, the Yemeni riyal seems not to be doing badly (considering Yemen’s economic situation) – but at the expense of Yemeni business, trade and sustainable development. People of wealth are getting wealthier, whereas the poor remain without education, jobs, opportunity or health. While Abdu Rabo Mansour receives his orders and administers from his huge palace (built for him by Ali Saleh a few years back) near the airport in Sana’a. The traditional tribal militias of Al Ahmar , Ali Muhsen and co, are aiding and abetting him. This gang has no remit or intention to change: 99% of Yemenis will not benefit; no real or sustainable development or growth will be generated.

The Yemeni revolution – a revolution which could have resulted in far reaching consequences and change in the Arabian Peninsula, has been pacified for now. But the kitchen remains hot, with too many cooks, and outcome yet unknown. Like others, I believe our Yemen Spring will not bloom until a Gulf Spring has flowered. If the ‘pruning’ in Bahrain is any indication, that may take some time.

So we wait. And watch. And pray for the countless who continue to suffer needlessly.

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توكل للسلام By Mansur Rajih

مُنحت جائزة نوبل للسلام لهذا العام للناشطة اليمنية توكل كرمان . دردشت مع كثير من وسائل الاعلام ، كان القول الرئيس من جانبي ان السيدة توكل تستحق الجائزة ، بل ان الجائزة بمنحها لتوكل تستعيد وهجا طالما افتقدته وتستعيد مصداقية طالما جرى التشكيك بها.
منح توكل الجائزة تحصيل حاصل لقيمة هذه المرأة اليمنية في الثورة اليمنية السلمية والديمقراطية . انها إعلاء من شان المرأة المساهمة بفعالية من اجل حق الأنسان في الحياة بالطرق وبالاشكال الاكثر سياسية ، الاكثر ضراوة . لقد عانت توكل الكثير من التحديات ومعها كامل افراد اسرتها بما في ذلك اطفالها ومع ذلك لم تهدأ ولم تستكن .
توكل مناضلة جسورة من اجل شعبها وحقه في التحرر من ” الاستعباد ” حقه في الحيآة بكرامة وحقة في ان يحيا في ظلال نظام سياسي يتحقق فيه اكبر قدر ممكن من المشاركة في إدارة الدولة . انها مناضلة من اجل السلام .
منح توكل جائزة نوبل للسلام هو حق شخصي لها . ليس لأي كان . هذه الجائزة تُمنح للاشخاص ” بالمعنى الفردي ” اللذين لهم اسهامات متميزة في الكفاح من اجل السلام .

ولما كان السلام العالمي لا يتحقق إلا من خلال سلام الأفراد والأمم على حدة ، اولا ، فوجب القول بان توكل في نضالها الدوؤب وفي تضحياتها من اجل حق اليمنيين في المشاركة السياسية في أدارة الدولة انما تناضل وتضحي من اجل السلام في بلدها ، وعليه فأنها مناضلة من اجل السلام العالمي كما ينبغي ان يكون النضال من اجل السالم العالمي .
ان النضال من جل السلام العالمي ان هو إلا نضال من اجل سلام الامم كل على حدة أولا وقبل كل شي ، وهو نضال من اجل سلامة الانسان الفرد ايضا .
توكل قي قلب هذه ” المعمعمة ” .
توكل تستحق الجائزة

By Mansur Rajih – Norway

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This morning’s breakfast story #SupportYemen

In many ways we Yemenis are an unremarkable people. Babies are born, families argue, tribes fight and protect, we cry for lost loved ones.

Life goes on.

The exceptional thing about us is that we continue to do this while our president drops bombs on us.

In Yemen, current governance is a blood sport.

Yet Yemen’s President Saleh has more than mere arms in his arsenal. Casting the economy back to the Stone Age is a much underreported act of terror on the people. Over seven million Yemenis do not have enough food to eat. Unicef, the UN children’s agency, warns that malnutrition levels are as severe as Somalia.

Children continue to die.

The UK co-chairs the Friends of Yemen group of countries which in the past has encouraged much richer Gulf donors to give aid, but billions of pounds of promised aid has yet to hit our unhappy land in earnest.

We must get the message out. Today, UK Yemenis had a traditional breakfast with development ministers in a call for more aid to stave off starvation for millions. Outside DFID we took food together, civil servants and activists alike, we agreed that more could be done; more must be done. Yemen is at the top of DFID’s concerns; it continues to increase its focus on and its aid to Yemen, for which we British taxpaying Yemenis are both proud and grateful.

That’s just the start. Wherever you are, do something – anything – to tell the world about this silent disaster. And please give what you can to Unicef’s children of Yemen appeal.

Food, electricity, clothing, everything – Yemenis are fighting for their lives and their livelihoods.

A note to Obama. Visit the Yemen protest camps and you’ll find imaginations set free in a world of debate, of poetry, song, art, satire and drama. You’ll also see the bullet holes. The very best of humanity meets the very worst. Yemen is not a choice between President Saleh and Al Qaeda. Everything that is beautiful in human creation lies in the space between those two evils. Everything we are fighting for. Support us.

Obama, drop by Change Square for some freedom tea or perhaps some…
Yemeni breakfast.

Make it. Take it to work. Share it with you neighbours. Spread the word, share the flavour.

• Tin each of haricot beans and red beans
• Oil for frying
• One large onion, finely chopped
• Two large tomatoes, chopped
• Two garlic cloves, sliced
• Teaspoon of ground cumin
• 2 medium green chillis, sliced
• Handful of green corriander
• Dash of lemon juice
• Salt and pepper
• Parsley

Open the tins and drain the beans, reserving the water from the tins. Fry the onion, chillies and garlic with the chopped tomatoes. Add the cumin and the coriander. Cook gently, mixing in the beans, lemon, salt and pepper and half the bean water. Continue to cook over a medium heat, adding water if it dries out too much, until cooked through. Serve garnished with more parsley, lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

No knives and forks here: serve with pitta, khubz, or baguette to scoop up the beans. It tastes better that way.

For Fawzia Mubgar (February 1939 – October 2011)

Democracy now. Saleh must go.

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Letter to DFID: Break the fast over Yemen

The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP
Secretary of State for International Development
1 Palace Street
SW1E 5HE October 2011

Break the fast over Yemen

We, Yemen Aid and other members of the British Yemeni community, invite you, your fellow Development ministers, and journalists to a traditional breakfast as a reminder to all that too many in Yemen are unable to eat more than one poor meal a day. We call on you to provide more, and actively to deliver the promised aid to feed the millions of hungry and displaced throughout Yemen. If you do not, we are worried that the Islamists will – with consequences we much fear.

The numbers of malnourished Yemenis are eye-watering: over 7 million Yemenis do not have enough food to eat. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, is warning that in some parts of “Arabia Felix” malnutrition levels are as severe as in Somalia. Yet while international donors have pledged $38 billion for Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, aid to Yemen – the poorest country in the region – seems to have been suspended.

To its credit, the UK Government has announced £15m humanitarian assistance to Yemen, some of it to help feed malnourished children. But due to the “current political turmoil”, UK aid appears not to have been delivered – at just the moment that aid groups such as Oxfam report millions as being at risk. The UK co-chairs the Friends of Yemen group of countries and has encouraged much richer Gulf donors to give aid. Billions of dollars have been promised; few have arrived. At the last Friends of Yemen conference over a year ago, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that ‘Yemeni children face a future of starvation.’ That horrible future is upon them now.

In comparison to its limited aid to Yemen, the UK has given over £124 million to the Horn of Africa crisis; the Ministry of Defence reported that the military intervention in Libya had cost £260 million to June, while G8 Finance ministers at their September summit pledged to give $38bn (£25bn) in aid and loans to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. Most of these countries are suffering a far worse security situation than the “current political turmoil” which seems to prevent the UK Government delivering its aid to Yemenis. Yet Yemen Aid, the Big Society group which has organised this demonstration, has sent more than 40 tonnes of food, clothes and medicines to the displaced sheltering in schools in Aden. The Social Fund for Development and Social Welfare Fund continue to help hundreds of thousands of desperate people. UN agencies, international and local NGOs all continue to work effectively within their limited means, but they need our collective support. They need it now. I ask you to call a conference of international donors to address what the UN warn may be the next Somalia.

We ask the UK Government ‘to step up to the plate’, so that Yemeni children may enjoy the even meagre breakfast plate that you do now, and that they have some rations to eat, rather than their current fast: break the fast over Yemen; unlock the UK funding!

Safa Mubgar
UK Yemen Aid

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Break the Fast over Yemen

British Yemenis invite development ministers to traditional breakfast in call for more aid to feed millions of hungry Yemenis.

British Yemenis will be sitting down to a traditional Yemeni breakfast outside DFID in a call for more aid for the country. Food will be available for journalists to try.

Over 7 million Yemenis do not have enough food to eat. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, is warning that malnutrition levels are as severe as Somalia in some parts of Yemen. While donors pledged $38 billion for Libya, Tunisia and Egypt aid to Yemen, the poorest country in the region, is being cut.

Dept for International Development entrance, 1 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5HE

Monday 3rd October 8.00am – 9.30am

The UK has announced £15m humanitarian assistance to the country, some of it to help feed malnourished children. Due to the current political turmoil, UK aid appears suspended as aid groups such as Oxfam report millions are at risk.

The UK also co-chairs the Friends of Yemen group of countries which has encouraged much richer Gulf donors to give aid but billions of promised aid has never arrived. The last Friends of Yemen conference took place over a year ago, when Foreign Secretary William Hague MP said that ‘Yemeni children face a future of starvation.’

As a comparison, the UK has given over £124 million to the Horn of Africa crisis. The Ministry of Defence reported in June the Libya military intervention cost £260 million. Finance ministers pledged at the G8 summit in September to give $38bn (£25bn) in aid and loans to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan.

Wadah Mubgar, from Ealing in London said “Children are starving now in Yemen. British Yemenis from across the UK have sent shipments of food and medicine to the country. The UK government has been a generous donor to the country but now is the time to help, while millions are in desperate need. I want the UK to get all the other donors together and knock heads together quickly so we can help avert a famine.”

Notes to Editors:
Yemen Aid is organising this demonstration also sent more than 40 tonnes shipment of food, clothes and medicines to displaced Yemenis sheltering in schools in Aden. See the pictures at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/UK-Yemen-Aid/156279277775764

The group will be handing over a letter to the International Development Secretary after the event and are also seeking a meeting with UK aid officials to express their concerns.

Details of UK aid to Yemen can be found out:
The UK detailed £15 million humanitarian assistance on 1 July:
No figure for planned UK aid spend 2011/12 is listed but the UK spent £28.9 million in 2009/10 and announced in The Guardian that the UK planned to double aid from £46.7 million this year to £90 million by 2015:
Details of the Foreign Secretary’s opening remarks as Chair of the Friends of Yemen conference in September 2010 can be found at:
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/mena/yemen/ (see right hand corner Related Documents: Foreign Secretary Friends of Yemen Statement (PDF).
The World Bank announced aid suspension:
£124.29 UK aid to Horn of Africa crisis:
G8 finance ministers pledge of $38 billion to Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco
UNICEF and Oxfam reports:

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