Artikel om Yemen

18 februari 2010 at 14:37 (Uppsala Universitet, Yemenresan) (, , , , , )

Följande text skrev jag i samband kursen Professional Writing när vi fick i uppgift att skriva en ”feature article”. Eftersom Yemen fortfarande är ganska färskt i mitt minne valde jag att skriva om Yemen och den medieuppmärksamhet landet fick i samband med ”kalsongbombaren” på juldagen. Därmed är sagda text även lämplig för bloggen! Den är lite spretig, och ganska vinklad för att passa instruktionerna i uppgiften vi fick, men den duger.

The serene Yemeni countrysideYemeni People and the Medial War on Terrorism

Yemen is a relatively small country that usually goes unnoticed in the blur of news stories and reports that comprise the mainstream media. It is a Muslim nation, situated just south of Saudi Arabia, with a population that ranges somewhere between 22 and 26 million, depending on your sources. In reality, the actual number is anybody’s guess, since the rural parts of the country are either hard to reach or have restricted access for outsiders and the cities are sprawling labyrinths of seemingly never ending growth and confusion. The Yemeni people themselves don’t really care much for figures and statistics – they just try to live their lives.

Lately, however, this slow-paced country has gained interest with the international community. On Christmas Day in 2009, an attempted bombing of an airliner heading for Detroit drew attention to the location of the potential terrorist’s training, which turned out to be Yemen. The subsequent stream of international media coverage concerning domestic affairs surpassed anything that Yemen had experienced since the civil war in the mid-nineties. The world learned that Yemen is the new terrorist refuge, heard the name of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and learned of his joint efforts with the United States to suppress said terrorism. The world learned that the Yemeni military had wiped out a village of terrorists, killing 20 al-Qaeda operatives. Those in Yemen who care about such things knew about this strike, weeks before the rest of the world, and they also knew that it was American cruise missiles that had done the job – the Yemeni military had merely pointed them in the right direction. President Saleh played a game of delicate balance, proclaiming his cooperation with the U.S. to the world, while simultaneously reassuring the Yemeni people that no American involvement in the country’s internal affairs would be allowed.

So what impact did all this have on the daily routine of the average Yemeni? The answer is minor to none. Those who read national newspapers – which are all government-approved – and also watch news channels such as CNN or BBC could discern the difference in policies. This group however, is very limited. All others, who watch Al-Jazeera or simply listen to the rumor of the day, kept living their lives just as they had done the day before. The authorities were noticeably more nervous concerning the safety of westerners living in Yemen, which resulted in an increased presence of police in the cities and military checkpoints in the countryside – but other than that, no difference could be discerned when looking at the daily flow of people.

Basically, Yemen could be seen as a medieval country with modern technologies. Some of its people are connected to the outside world, but they don’t feel the need to interact. Their business is their own, and according to them, so should everybody else’s be. Maybe there is something for us to learn from this. Maybe the rhetoric behind the war on terror is providing a bad bias against a people that only wants to be left alone.

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