For those who knew him, it is hard to believe that Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s longtime ruler and one of the most cunning autocrats of our time, is finally gone.
Time and time again, Mr. Saleh seemed to outmaneuver death. He dodged a blizzard of bullets over the years, along with a bombing that left his skin mottled, his right hand stiffened like a claw. He’d held power for so long — even after his nominal ouster from the presidency in 2011, he remained a dominant force in Yemen — that he seemed almost welded to the landscape.
Mr. Saleh was in many ways the quintessential Arab dictator.… Seguir leyendo »
In the beginning, long before ISIS or al-Qaeda, before the smiling suicide bombers and black flags and all the other lurid signposts we have come to associate with Islam, there were manuscripts. They emerged from the desert in the seventh and eighth centuries AD: yellowed animal-skin parchments inscribed with Arabic letters that proclaim a faith in one God. Some were written on the shoulder bones of camels, or stripped palm-branches. No one knows who wrote them. They may have come from many hands in disparate places. But at some point, a powerful story emerged to bind them. The angel Gabriel, it was said, recited them to a man named Muhammad in a cave (and later outside of it).… Seguir leyendo »