What have they done to Aden?

Aden, the liberated city.
In the hands of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Neighbourhoods turnt into the shadows of themselves. Crippled skeletons of an architecture no longer standing. Unrecognisable Aden.
Whatever was there: the port  described by Marco Polo as the centre of the commerce, the memories of French poet Rimbaud who lived  there and hated it (Yemenis never believed him, though); the traces of  Portuguese, Ottoman, British, Soviet governance summing up to centuries of foreign occupation,  the local legends repeating that Aden is as old as humanity and hosts – somewhere – the remains of Cain and Abel, whatever was there has been buried under the bombs.

Aden was once known as the ´eye of Yemen´, the gate from the Indian Ocean to the plains, mountains, fertile valleys of the North.
Aden, now, is the temporary capital of the government of ex President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is in exile. A President unrecognisable even to his own few supporters. A President who escaped twice, once from Sanaá and once from Aden itself, to rush to Ryadh asking for military intervention. Against his own people, almost overnight.That was March 25, 2015.

They tell us the story that the Saudi-led coalition launched military operations on Yemen rubbling the country to prevent the Houthis absorption of the South. Houthis seen as an extension of Iran´s arm in Yemen.

Whatever Aden represents now, it is unlikely to be considered a success. Unless debris, the variety of militias belonging to the most heterogeneal Islamist groups and militants occupying buildings and sniping passers-by, car bombs claiming lives by the dozens, a closed port, sealed and destroyed schools, collapsing infrastructure, a non-operating airport, coalition mercenaries locked in their basis too scared to venture out, are to be considered a sign of victory and order restoration.
Surprisingly enough, ex President Hadi and his exiled government, rarely fly and step foot in Aden. They constantly run away from their own self-claimed success.

Only children consider Aden, still, their playground. No matter what.

Photos: UNICEF, Yemen

Personal celebrities

 A friend wrote that she was posting this everywhere:
”We are not wealthy, we own small business, we are teachers, and teacher’s assistants. We are the police and firefighters the EMS.
We are carpenters, electricians, plumbers, the janitors, lawn keepers, housekeepers, the guys that pick up the trash.
We work on the roads, build your homes, make those endless phone calls, we are bank tellers, clerical workers, secretaries, nurses, paralegals, physicians assistants, hospital technicians.
We ring up your groceries and fill your prescriptions; we work in retail stores, we are the wait staff that takes your food orders.
Look around you, we are the many and more than this list, and we will no longer be used and manipulated by the system that takes our tax money and hands it over to the wealthy and powerful.
WE are America, and we demand change that will finally reflect our needs; we want that tax money used for all of us.
We are tired of endless wars and broken soldiers that are ignored and abused. We are the Bernie Sanders ARMY.”

I told her it reminded me of Brecht and  Ginsberg, somehow, and she replied: ‘Ginsberg? Wow – spent an evening with him many, many years ago – mostly drinking coffee and listening. The old days of coffee shops all around the Harvard campus.´

´Really?´I said. My mouth dropped. ´Lucky. Both of you.’ 

´Lucky me. Brecht I didn’t meet. Others that I did meet in those years: Jackie, Andy Warhol, Joe Cocker and few others. The days of crazy parties and mixing with celebrities that were all just people´.

I do not think I have ever met a celebrity in my life. But many of the people I met have become a personal celebration.
Apart from Isaac Asimov.  I did meet him. Though he was wise enough to avoid disclosing his identity.
He told me his name was Mike and he was a poet – ´Of few, targeted, well chosen words to express large concepts´ he used to tell me.
He often made fun of my language exploring, my search for ´idioms for idiots´ but I was only 18 and he was always, adoringly, patient.
That summer of long ago, in another part of the world, eventually ended.
I found out Mike had passed away some years later, reading the obituaries of Isaac Asimov.
That did not add anything to Mike, a very personal celebrity.

Not alone

Hadn´t the war occured, I would have never felt cosmic solitude, abandonment.
That definite feeling of having fallen in the silence of the universe, of having been forgotten.
Feeling still lingers on. It appears, sharply or mildy, according to the days. Moments.
War never leaves us but reality has proved us wrong; we have never been totally alone.
Below is a message received through social media from a total stranger:

“No words can describe the suffering of people in the Republic of Yemen.
I live several thousands of kilometers from Yemen but my heart can feel your sufferings 
and pains.
My deepest sympathies go to those who have lost their loved ones. Your homes, hospitals, schools, markets and food stores are torn to pieces and not to forget your civil infrastructures. Your country is also besieged so there is barricades of food, medicines etc which you need very badly to just survive. And all this is happening while the world stood silent to the war in Yemen.
War is evil to mankind as it cause innocent poor countries to suffer, whilst the offensive rich allies take pride in their brutal killings and helping the weapons industries to prosper.
May God the sole creator of infinite have mercy to the people of Yemen. My best wishes to friends in Yemen . Wassallam.
Zainal Abidin”

He added this picture. His post went viral.


In Saada

In Saada, Northen Yemen,  you keep your children safe.
And the only safety feasible comes from digging the ground. Deep, deep, because your home is a target of airstrikes or has already been one and you do not have a home any longer.
You cover your children with a blanket as it gets cold.
In your heart, though, you know that this same shelter may be your children´s tomb because the airstrikes do not differentiate between a home, a garden, a market, a fishing village or a mosque.
Life in Saada, for the past 360 days goes like this.

March 18 2016 for Living in Yemen on the Edge

Never to be done

There are things to be done every day:
washing oneself, studying, playing,
setting the table
at midday.
There are things to be done every night:
closing one’s eyes, sleeping,
having dreams to dream,
ears for listening.
There are things never to be done,
neither by day nor by night,
neither by sea nor by land:
for example, war.  (Gianni Rodari)


We ask the international community how this child could pose any threat to the stability of Yemen or the entire Middle East Region.
Under which any given law, any treaty, you justify the killing of thousands of Yemenis, the running of blood of our children.
How could this child be a target of bombings by a coalition of nine  countries, twenty-something others involved in dirty arms deals, thousands of mercenaries paid to kill?
Where is the world´s conscience? What has this child done to any of you?
How strong does this make you feel? How brave?

Peace talks, Yemen

My greatest fear is that warmongers will find their way and April 10 will be another moment of shattered hope for peace in ‪#‎Yemen‬.

The quagmire of millions of dollars of kick-backs will silence any conscience, arms deals under the table will prevail and more children will not see a new tomorrow.
These children will pass history almost undocumented. With parents unable to protect them, they will not even be registred upon birth; they will live just a brief time and then, then move on. Because of illness, a bomb, malnutrition or all the three causes together.
The geo-political agenda will win, I am so afraid.
We will not have enough time to save anyone.

(anxiety at 11.25 pm)

March 26 2016: the Yemeni Aeneas & Anchises

For one full year under the bombs, with no shelter, no sirens to announce the warplanes arriving, no safe place, no water, no medicines, no fuel, no electricity, no food.
For one full year with no airplanes to defend the country.
For one full year surrounded by the silence of the world and fake news by corrupted media.
For one full year the shoulders of the Yemenis have carried much more than the weight of a father.
Like Aeneas, the most respected hero of the Trojan war left the city carrying his father Anchises on his shoulder and holding his son Ascanius´ hand, this Yemeni son is marching to the country´s biggest rally, ever. The one against one year of Saudi Arabia´s (and allies) war on Yemen on March 26 2016.
They marched to reach here in Sabaeen Square and sang the national anthem with millions of others.

You just have no idea how strong, resilient, full of dignity Yemenis can be.
March on. To the bravest people of our times, the Anaeases of Yemen.

Can you stand my gaze?

I may not be able to neither read nor write, but like my country fellows, I know the alphabet of a decent human being, my alif-ba-ta.
I know what is haram and what is halal, forbidden and lawful.
I know where I come from: I come from Yemen, thousands year old land which was here before all of  your tribes made their appearence.
I stand on my soil, my valleys, my desert, rivers, mountains, peaks and seas.
In my blood I carry the history of humankind: your caravans had to cross  my land to reach destination, your boats had to kiss our shores to escape the solitude of the sea.
My queens have taught the world the basics of governance.
We taught you the art of hospitality, how to count, how to irrigate unfriendly scorching desert, build damns and houses scratching the sky from what the earth gave us.
Remember these words, young man: I stand with my people. We are one firm nation.
Together, we stand with each martyr of ours. Our heartbeats speak of Yemen, over and over again.
It´s my nation which gives me strength. It´s my God which gives me hope.
I may be homeless, wounded, widowed, childless, but I know no foreigner shall ever hold dominion over Yemen.
I know my alif-ba-ta, young man.

Look at me, straight in the eyes and ask yourself if you can stand my gaze.
The gaze of all the blood spilt.
I speak for every mother made childless, every child made futureless, every man made martyr, every home turnt into rubble, every child born dumb, blind, defectful because of your bombs.
I speak in the name of the Yemeni people and remind you that you can take this anniversary of yours, March 26, and celebrate your own downfall.
You may U-turn your war-planes, silence your cannons, sink your warships and swallow your bombs.
I speak for Yemen, young man. We are here to stay.

(short collection of brief sentences I have been told by elderly Yemeni women commencing on March 26 2015 to March 25 2016)

photo: Yusra Ahmad


Yemeni children are not sons and daughters of a lesser God.
They are entitled to the same rights as anyone else: right to peace, to school, to food, water, nights without air-raids, hours free of cluster bombs and depleted uranium explosions.
Yemeni children have the right to playing in the streets and not using the streets to beg for a piece of bread because there is no food home.
They are entitled to learn a second language, travel freely to visit relatives in other cities, have a bycicle and a playground to play.
Yemeni children must be entitled to the usual two rounds of new clothes per year: at the end of Ramadan for Eid al Fitr and for Eid al Adha, the biggest Islamic holiday of all at the final month of the Islamic calendar.

A right to have a full membered family must be secured: Yemeni children should not be visiting graveyards to mourn the death of a parent fallen under bombs made in distant countries selling them to Yemen´s next-door neighbours.

The bodies of Yemeni children must be complete and not maimed by a silenced, senseless war.

It sounds so banal, ordinary.
But we are raising a generation who has become dreamless, with only one remaining dream: for war to end.
Banal, ordinary indeed.

Tareq Abdullah and no chance of survival in war-torn Yemen

Tareq Abdullah is only 10 years old.
He comes from an extremely indigent family of Hodeidah, Westerm Yemen, and  life has balanced the lack of money in his days with abundancy of illnesses and grief.
Tareq happens to be deaf, suffers from renal failure and has an enlarged heart.
With such a clinical record, chances of survival in war-torn Yemen are close to nil.
Chances of having a decent life in the current situation, none.

In Yemen, devastated by daily bombardments, the few hospitals still operating are on the brink of collapsing and there would not be, anyhow, a way of treating him. The country is under an air-land-sea siege and little or close to nothing, including medicines, are allowed to enter.
More than 20 million people, 80 per cent of the population, require humanitarian assistance.
So far, the request of humanitarian aid of $ 1.800 million for 2016, released the past month of February, has received a mere 12 %.

Tareq´s days are counted.
Tareq cannot afford even to dream. The world is distant to him and has failed him from birth, from day one.

We do not want Tareq to be forgotten. We do not want Tareq´s case to be considered a collateral damage of the war.
Is there, somewhere, in the world, someone out of the 7 billion people, who can help us?
Tareq´s case has been documented by the Rehabilitation and care Fund for people with disabilities in Sanaá (Bayt Meyad – behind the office of Education – Al-Sabyen Directorate Tel: 00967-1-619774 Fax: 00967-1-619231/5) and we hope, so hope, our plea will be heard.