Foreign Policy Blogs

Hamid al-Ahmar

The Yemen Times has a recent profile on Sheik al-Ahmar's son, a very relevant man following the recent death of his father, the second-most powerful person in Yemen.   The author, Abdullah al-Faqeh, is a professor of politics at Sana’a University and very clearly a fan of young Hamid.  In the last post on the al-Ahmar clan, commentor Gregory postulates that Hamid is the best bet of the late Sheik's six sons to assume power over the Hashid tribal federation, but thinks that his image of a modern and international businessman might hurt him.  While al-Faqeh doesn't address this, he clearly thinks Hamid al-Ahmar can be a bridge between Yemen's past and present.  Here is a longish quote.

While accompanying the Joint Meeting Parties' presidential candidate engineer Faisal bin Shamlan in his camping trail across Yemen, Hameed seemed to have redefined the contemporary politics of Yemen. He proved the old slogan of tribal politics, which states "my nephew and I are against the outsider," to be inaccurate. The most telling moment, probably in the politics of modern Yemen, occurred in the summer of 2006 when Hameed with the support of some of his brothers mobilized tens of thousands of Hashid's tribesmen for the opposition parties' presidential candidate bin Shamlan's campaign stop in the city of Amran to the north of the capital of Yemen‚ Sana'a.

It is true that Saleh is the one who decided to shift from the politics of consensus to the politics of competition. It is truer, however, that junior Al-ahmer is the one who defined what the politics of competition looks like today and will look like in the future. And, while the door for reconciliation of differences among the younger generation of Hashid is not completely closed, the likelihood of reconciliation and a return to the politics of consensus seems remote. The best the sons of Hashid can hope for in the future is not the impossible return to the politics of consensus, but the attainable goal of acceptance of the right and legitimacy of the role of each other.
This puts Hamid in a very interesting light, one where it may not be a question of whether or not he can consolidate support like his father, but where he may in fact reshape the idea of the tribal and political system in Yemen.  I can't even begin to speculate if he is up to it- power corrupts, after all, and even if it doesn't not everyone lives up to their early potential.   And, as discussed below, the avalanche of disaster Yemen is facing may prevent everything.   But he is worth keeping his eye on.



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.