Jemajem is a young, dark-eyed militant leader who bears the self-important nom de guerre of “the Guevara of south Yemen“. Based in the impoverished port of Aden, he belongs to the Hirak group of activists, who have been calling for south Yemen to be allowed to secede from the north for half a decade.
It’s not hard to see why he thinks an independent future for the south would be better than its current situation. Sadness and poverty settled on Aden many decades ago. The streets are littered with piles of rotting fish and festering rubbish, while haggard men sit on pavements chewingqat to stave off the boredom of unemployment. Cliffs of volcanic rock are crowded with migrants’ illegal shacks made of breeze blocks and corrugated iron.
But beneath this layer of grime is a tale of outside interference in Yemen that is likely to bring further conflict and exacerbate the divisions within the country. Shortly after the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was toppled last November in the Arab spring, Jemajem was approached by an intermediary working on behalf of what the man described as a “friendly country”… >>>