Prepared by Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies
This document aims to guide readers toward substantive and important publications related to Yemen.
Section A includes suggestions on how to get accurate and up-to-date information on the country.
Section B lists academics and analysts who have written on Yemen.
Section C outlines what the Sana’a Center views as must-read publications on Yemen. These include books, reports and articles, broken down by theme.
1. Reports and news on Yemen
- The Yemen Review: Monthly publication by the Sana’a Center that assesses current diplomatic, economic, political, military, security, humanitarian and human rights developments related to Yemen.
For all other Sana’a Center publications, see: https://sanaacenter.org/publication
- For military and security data on Yemen: Acled Data
- For economic analysis: Development Champions Forum: Rethinking Yemen’s Economy
- For data and the latest reports on the humanitarian situation in Yemen: ReliefWeb
1) News in Arabic:
- Aden al-Ghad: Southern-focused daily
- Al-Masdar Online: Islah-leaning news site
- Al-Ishteraki Net: Socialist party-affiliated news site
- Al-Madnya Magazine: Monthly culture magazine in English and Arabic
2) News in English:
- Journalists including Saeed al-Batati, Saleh al-Batati, Mohammed Ghobari, Ahmed al-Hajj, Maggie Michael, Mohammed Mukhashaf, Nasser al-Saqqaf and Amal al-Yarisi regularly report on Yemen in English.
2. Academics and Analysts
Academics and analysts who have worked and published on Yemen – in English – include:
- Adam Baron, Laurent Bonnefoy, Marieke Brandt, Sheila Carapico, Steve Caton, Iona Craig, Susanne Dahlgren, Nadwa Dawsari, Maysaa Shuja al-Deen, Elana DeLozier, Paul Dresch, Sama’a al-Hamdani, Bernard Haykel, Marie Christine Heinize, Ginny Hill, Gregory Johnsen, Elisabeth Kendall, Helen Lackner, Luca Nevola, Thanos Petouris, Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Peter Salisbury.
3. Publications by Theme
1) General overview and historical background
Below is a collection of books that shed some light on Yemen’s current war and, just as importantly, how the country got to this point. Phillips’ and Dresch’s monographs remain the decisive overviews of pre-2011 Yemen. Mackintosh-Smith provides a broad sweep of what Yemen was in the past and helps set a firm foundation for understanding contemporary issues in the country. Brehony provides a history of South Yemen and the 1990 unification. Hill and Brandt offer important insights into Yemen’s more recent history. Johnson’s book provides an excellent window into Yemen and its contemporary history and politics through the lens of Al-Qaeda. Lackner examines how different factors such as international neo-liberalist policies contributed to the disintegration of the Yemeni state and how other important issues, such as an increasing water crisis, might affect Yemen’s future. Her monograph includes a concise summary of the 2011 uprising in Yemen and its aftermath.
- Tim Mackintosh-Smith, “Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land,” Trafalgar Square, 1998
- Paul Dresch, “A History of Modern Yemen,” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000
- Sarah Phillips, “Yemen and the Politics of Permanent Crisis,” Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2011
- Noel Brehony, “Yemen Divided: The Story of a Failed State in South Arabia,” London/New York: I.B. Tauris, 2013
- Gregory Johnsen, “The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda and America’s War in Arabia,” W. Norton & Company, 2014
- Marieke Brandt, “Tribes and Politics in Yemen: A History of the Houthi Conflict,” London: Hurst, 2017
- Ginny Hill, “Yemen Endures,” Oxford University Press, 2017
- Helen Lackner, “Yemen in Crisis: Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State,” Saqi Books, 2017
Other books that provide valuable insight into Yemen:
- Laurent Bonnefoy, “Salafism in Yemen: Transnationalism and Religious Identity,” Hurst & Company, 2011
- “Why Yemen Matters: A Society in Transition,” Helen Lackner (ed.), SOAS Middle East Issues, Saki Books, 2014
- Laura Kasinof, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Bullets: An Accidental War Correspondent in Yemen,” Arcade, 2014
- Tim Mackintosh-Smith, “Yemen: The Unknown Arabia,” Harry N. Abrams, 2014
- “Arabia Incognita: Dispatches from Yemen and the Gulf,” Shelia Carapico (ed.), Just World Books, 2016
- Askar H. Al-Enazy, “The Long Road From Taif to Jeddah: Resolution of a Saudi-Yemeni Boundary Dispute,” The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 2017
- “Hadramaut and its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration,” Noel Brehony (ed.), I.B. Tauris, 2017
- Laurent Bonnefoy, “Yemen and the World: Beyond Insecurity,” Comparative Politics and International Studies series, Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2019
2) Yemen’s Arab Spring-inspired uprising, failed transition and the lead up to war
In 2011, Yemen, like many other countries in the region, experienced an anti-government uprising. The failure of the once-hailed, internationally-backed transitional government that ostensibly aimed to make Yemen a functioning democracy served as the catalyst to the country’s current civil war. Salient texts in this regard include:
- Ginny Hill and Gerd Nonneman, “Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States: Elite Politics, Street Protests and Regional Diplomacy,” Chatham House, May 2011.
- Yezid Sayigh, “Crumbling States: Security Sector Reform in Libya and Yemen,” Carnegie Middle East Center, June 2015.
- Helen Lackner, “Yemen’s ‘Peaceful Transition from Autocracy:’ Could it Have Succeeded?,” International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, March 29, 2016.
- Stacey Philbrick Yadav, “Why Yemen’s Internationally Managed Transition led to War,” Washington Post, February 18, 2016.
- Peter Salisbury and Renad Mansour, “Between Order and Chaos: A New Approach to Stalled State Transformations in Iraq and Yemen,” Chatham House, September 9, 2019.
3) Internal Yemeni politics and divisions
While much analysis – and policy – treats Yemen’s conflict as Sana’a-centric, the reality is far more complicated. Over the course of the ongoing conflict, longstanding tensions among various regions of Yemen – which have different histories and political, social, tribal, religious and economic geographies – have dramatically burst to the fore, rendering them a key factor to be dealt with in any coming peace process.
- Barak A. Salmoni, Bruce Loidolt, Madeleine Wells, “Regime and Periphery in Yemen: The Houthi Phenomenon,” The Rand Corporation, May 3, 2010.
- Thanos Petouris, “Understanding the Role of the Southern Question in Yemen’s War,” Muftah, July 2015.
- Mayssa Shuja al-Deen, “Yemen’s Houthis and Former President Saleh: An Alliance of Animosity,” Arab Reform Initiative, October 7, 2016.
- “Yemen’s Al-Qaeda: Expanding the Base,” International Crisis Group, February 2017.
- “Yemen After Saleh,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, December 13, 2017.
- Peter Salisbury, “Yemen: National Chaos, Local Order,” Chatham House, December 2017.
- Elana DeLozier, “Framing Yemen Peace Negotiations,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 31, 2018.
- Thanos Petouris, “Britain and Yemen: The End of British Rule in South Arabia Through the Eyes of a Young Political Officer,” Asian Affairs, 49:1 (2018).
- “A Grim Anniversary: Yemen After Four Years of the Saudi-led Military Intervention,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, March 26, 2019.
- Maysaa Shuja al-Deen, “The Houthi-Tribal Conflict in Yemen,” Sada, April 23, 2019.
- Yahya al-Sewari, “Yemen’s Al-Mahra: From Isolation to the Eye of a Geopolitical Storm,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, July 5, 2019.
- Andrea Carboni and Luca Nevola, “Inside Ibb: A Hotbed of Infighting in Houthi-Controlled Yemen,” Acled Data, October 3, 2019.
4) Regional tensions
Descriptions of Yemen as a regional proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia against Iran are simplistic at best and often employed with malicious intent. Nonetheless, regional politics — and their relationship to Yemen’s internal tensions — have undeniably played a key role in bringing Yemen to its current nadir.
- Jane Kinnemont, “Saudi Foreign Policy is in a State of Flux,” Chatham House, February 17, 2016
- Thomas Juneau, “Iran’s Policy Towards the Houthis: A Limited Return on a Modest Investment,” May 6, 2016.
- Elisabeth Kendall, “Iran’s Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined,” The Atlantic Council, October 2017.
- Mustafa Naji, “Yemen’s Role in Moscow’s Middle East Comeback,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, June 28, 2019.
- Farea al-Muslimi, “How Yemen Brought Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the Brink of Divorce,” Center for Global Policy, September 25, 2019.
- Farea al-Muslimi, “Locals Running Rings Around the Power Brokers,” Chatham House, October 2019.
5) The economy and humanitarian situation
Among the world’s most impoverished nations, Yemen is currently home to the Middle East’s most severe humanitarian crisis. But while the country’s economic woes have been exacerbated by the ongoing conflict, they predate the country’s political crisis and subsequent collapse into civil war and are related to a number of endemic issues, including corruption and underdevelopment.
- Ginny Hill, Peter Salisbury, Leonie Northridge, Jane Kinnemont “Corruption, Capital Flight and Global Drivers of Conflict,” Chatham House, September 1, 2013.
- “Beyond the Business As Usual Approach: Combating Corruption in Yemen,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, November 2018.
- Wadah Ahmed, Saleh Zaid, Yousef Mohsen, “Yemen’s Expatriate Workforce Under Threat: The Essential Role of Remittances in Mitigating Economic Collapse,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, May 31, 2019.
- Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, Lindsay Spainhour Baker, and Jeeyon Janet Kim, “Constraints and Complexities of Information and Analysis in Humanitarian Emergencies: Evidence from Yemen” Feinstein International Center – Tufts University, May 2019.
- “Yemen: Questions About an Aid System,” MSF Crash, June 20, 2019.
6) Women and Youth
Among the side effects of Yemen’s 2011 uprising was the empowerment of Yemen’s long-stifled women and youth populations. However, four years of conflict have in many aspects rolled back tentative gains toward women’s rights and at the same time simultaneously pushed many women into the workforce, while tens of thousands of Yemeni youths have signed up for the myriad armed groups currently waging war in the country.
- Atiaf al-Wazir, “Yemen’s Independent Youth and Their Role in the National Dialogue Conference,” German Institute for International and Security Affairs, August 23, 2013.
- Najwa Adra, “Women and Peacebuilding in Yemen: Challenges and Opportunities,” Open Democracy, January 21, 2014.
- Wolfgang Gressman, “From the Ground Up: Gender and Conflict Analysis in Yemen,” Oxfam, October 20, 2016.
- Reem Mousad al-Forassy, “Diaspora Transnational Politics: Peace Contributors or Spoilers?,” Governance and Peace-Building Center, July 27, 2019.
- Fawziah al-Ammar, Hannah Patchett and Shams Shamsan, “A Gendered Crisis: Understanding the Experiences of Yemen’s War,” The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, December 2019.
Not exactly related to current politics in Yemen, but entertaining and informative reads:
- Kit Chellel and Matthew Cambell, “The Hijacking of the Brillante Virtuoso,” Bloomberg, July 27, 2017.
- Trevor Marchand, “Architectural Heritage of Yemen: Buildings that Fill My Eye,” Gingko Library, 2017.
- Alan Verskin “A Vision of Yemen: The Travels of a European Orientalist and His Native Guide,” Stanford University Press, 2018.