There’s news from Yemen today that’s depressing in its familiarity:
“Al-Qaida militants launched a surprise attack against army bases in southern Yemen, killing 78 soldiers, seizing weapons and parading 55 troops they had taken captive through the center of a town under their control, military officials said.
“The battle in Abyan province shows how militants have taken advantage of the political turmoil created by the year-long uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh who last month handed over power to a successor.” (The Associated Press)
Also today, on Morning Edition, NPR’s Kelly McEvers brought listeners the voices of three Western journalists who were in Yemen last year to witness the mass protests against Saleh’s regime and the brutal crackdowns that followed. One of those freelancers is Iona Craig, who has written often for The Times of London. She spoke about being in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, last March 18 when dozens were killed as security forces fired on protesters.
“As I was filming with my phone, I saw a guy — a Yemeni guy — directly opposite me,” Craig said, “on the other side of the street as I was doing that, he was doing the same and he got his head blown off. And so I then thought, ‘Yeah, this is time to get out of here.’ “
Despite the dangers, the reporters want to stay on in Yemen to see how the story turns out. As Iona Craig tells Kelly, she’s anxious to see how the story turns out. “It’s all so complicated, that’s what makes it quite gripping. You can never sit back and say, ‘Yeah, I know everything about Yemen.’ And if you do you’re a complete fool.”