Prior to attending the lecture given by Professor Mustafa Bahran on February 28th, I knew shamefully little about either the history of the country or the presently ongoing conflict. As was mentioned in the lecture, Western media tends to forget about this nation’s revolution amidst the larger players in the Arab Spring – namely, Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria. However, Yemen is not a country to be forgotten. Professor Bahran gave his audience a sweeping yet thorough history of this ancient nation, reminding (or informing) us all of the rich culture to be found in Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen seems extremely complicated, with many intertwined actors. No one entity involved is entirely without agenda, and seeming enemies are often in each other’s pockets. Although the typical war is certainly complicated, this one in particular involves numerous factions that are not entirely separable – nor is there a clear division of right from wrong in terms of different actors’ motivations for violence. The sheer amount of confusion to simply comprehend and categorize the participants makes understanding the war extremely difficult. And this is before we even begin to factor in the wider context and analyze how the economic, social, and political state of Yemen could have shaped the war into the seemingly hopeless conflict it is today.
The lecture made its audience think. Not only did Professor Bahran include a plethora of facts and vital details in his analysis of the war, but he did not hold back the expression of his own emotional investment in the conflict’s outcome. Having lost a brother-in-law in the violence, Professor Bahran certainly succeeded in portraying the urgency with which he and other Yemenis hope for a quick resolution. This added emotion turned what could have been a purely academic lecture into a call to action and a push for all of us to become invested in peace.