Friday, June 7, 2013

It Wasn't Me: Yemen's Conspiracy Theories (1/2)

Part 1 of 2


As Arabs, we love conspiracy theories. Everything is far more exciting if there is a mysterious plot to unravel. Not to mention, it's easier to abandon all responsibilities if it there a “scheme” in place and a "mastermind" behind it. In Yemen's conspiracy theories, we are the victims, the injured party, the biggest loser, and the subject of all interest. Despite being inherently realists, we exhibit bursts of borderline personality and a hint of narcissistic tendencies. When it comes to conspiracy narratives, some are outright outrageous, others are meticulously constructed (and over time become self-fulling prophecies), and only a handful are fathomable explanations.


This blog post lists some of the “conspiracy theories” circulating in Yemen. It has no interest in debunking them nor in unraveling the truth that lies behind them.



  • About a year ago, right after the NASA Rover landed on Mars, Yemeni media outlets published one of the most dangerous theories yet. Our (Yemeni) high-tech investigative techniques revealed that NASA was hiding a big secret from us. We were told that NASA had physical proof, for years, that Lailat al Qadar exists and they shamelessly hid it from us. Apparently NASA, a US agency responsible for aerospace research invested a load of their time and money to trackback this day with technology as advanced as the space Rovers. The biggest shock was that the article assumed that Yemenis needed NASA to prove it...   
Lailat al Qadr, literally translates to Night of Destiny, and is the night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet Muhammed when he encountered the angel Jibreel (Gabriel). Traditionally, it is believed to be on one of the last nights of Ramadan and there is no specific date for it.
  • Israel, one of the most notorious countries in the Middle East, is always the subject of several conspiracy theories. Overtime, it became very convenient to blame anything on them. Once the Arab Spring started, former President Saleh gave a statement that attributed the Arab Spring to a vague Israeli/American blueprint to destroy the Middle East. While many Yemenis are innately susceptible to these kind of theories, unfortunately for Saleh, it was just too little too late!  
  • Accompanying Saleh’s long shot, an article surfaced that Israel finally devised a weapon more catastrophic than any nuclear bomb. They finally succeeded in creating a special gas that can be inserted into a bomb. The secret is once the bomb is dropped in any part of the world, the gas only kills Muslims. (not to mention the Israeli belts distributed all over Yemen to make our men infertile)
  • Speaking about gas, fellow tweeter Ibrahim Muthana once wrote that a taxi driver tried to explain his lethargy. The taxi driver revealed that the US has been actively spraying Yemenis with a secret gas to keep us tired and unproductive... (Qat and malnutrition didn't come to mind..)
  • While Yemen witnessed (and continues to witness) several campaigns against women, one of the most important issues that Yemenis continue to worry about is the term “gender”.  Most Yemenis (men and women) continue to misuse the term and substitute it for “equality”. Regardless of this lack of understanding, a university dropout warned us about the dangers of “gender”. If “gender” succeeds in being a component of the National Dialogue, then it will only legalize homosexuality and adultery. At first, it is easy to dismiss such ramblings; but after serious pondering, you begin to see the light. Why? Of course! Enhancing Women’s access to education is about enlightenment... and enlightenment makes us think of the Italian Renaissance... and the renaissance is about rebirth...rebirth coincided with secularism...Therefore, if women are educated then it must mean that Yemenis will abandon their faith . Just think about it! all these literate women... reading about adultery...how gay!
  • Just when you think that most conspiracy theories are generated by fundamentalists, I have to end this streak with another Arab Spring Theory. It is not a secret that the protests in Tunisia inspired the rest of the Middle East nor is it a secret that for at least a decade most Arabs living under repressive/authoritarian regimes preferred Islamist parties over other political parties for their political organization and service delivery. When the structured Islamist parties began winning votes across the Arab world, and most notably when the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) won the elections in Egypt, it became apparent to liberals everywhere that the Arab Spring is an Islamist ploy to secure power. The truth is; Islamists got bored of waiting for their turn to rule. For months, even years, men from all over the Arab World gathered (perhaps in London?) to plan a revolt that would lead to the world domination. The protests in Turkey may appear contradictory to this theory, but rest assured, it is part of a bigger plan...
  • Yemen witnesses blackouts on a daily basis. Once in a blue moon, the electricity stays on. Rather than enjoying the 260 year old technology, we worry about the consequences of this abrupt reward. While electricity blackouts are not a laughing matter, many Yemenis feel better blaming such misfortune on 'Afash. Yes, it is all the fault of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Even the tribes and AQAP agree. It's all him. He always left Yemenis in the dark, literally.
  • The radical branch of the Southern secessionists in Yemen blamed the downfall of YSP on a few Northern individuals in 1986. While these radical thinkers refuse to join the National Dialogue, the Northerners are worried about something far worse: Payback. 
President Hadi is from Abyan (South of Yemen) and the Majority of his government and Military appointments were for fellow Southerners. Unfortunately, a southern majority government didn't contain Hirak but it sure worried Northerners. They believe that - and Journalist Adam Baron describes it - president Hadi is a "closet separatist". Yemen is in a mess right now and just when everything gets worse (hard to imagine), president Hadi and his government will smoothly transition to rule the South. The Southerners would enjoy heaven (Aden) and the Northerners will be abandoned without any leadership or resources.


End of Part 1, more in Part 2
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