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Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes

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Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen from 1990 - 2012, described the process of governing Yemen as akin to “Dancing on the heads of snakes”. Such were the profound splits in Yemeni society, and with other strongmen, tribes and insurgent groups vying for their own power, Saleh knew that to keep his newly unified country together from the 1990s onwards would take a dance of real precision.

In this second episode of our five part series on the history of Yemen, we find out if Saleh was nimble enough to hold onto power as the vipers beneath him began to show their force. From the civil war of the 1990s to the rise of the insurgent Houthis in the 2000s, we cover the period from 1990-2010, to see how these divisions in Yemeni society would ultimately lead to the civil war which continues to ravage the country today.

And to help us on our way, we welcome back our first ever guest Baraa Shaiban, a Yemeni journalist and political activist, who this week tells us about his extraordinary first hand account of growing up alongside the growing Houthi insurgency in northern Yemen.

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