Yemen’s a mess, and a forgotten one at that given what’s happening in Syria.
On one side you’ve got the Houthis, Shias from the north, who now occupy the capital. On the other you’ve got forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who the Houthis forced out. They are – surprise, surprise – largely Sunni and largely from the south.
And then you’ve got al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attacking both sides, and the Islamic State attacking even them. And the Saudis getting in with air strikes and… Yes, it’s a mess.
It has seemed, though, that all sides wanted to keep Yemen as a whole. Until, perhaps, now.
Last week, the Houthis shelled the home of 73-year-old Ayoob Tarish, the oud-playing nattily-moustached composer of Yemen’s national anthem. He luckily wasn’t in.
It’s a symbolic act if ever there was one – blowing up the home of the man who Yemenis think of when singing, “My heartbeat shall remain Yemenite, no foreigner shall ever rule over Yemen.” Here’s his anthem:
Tarish’s music is loved by people on both sides, according to Al Arabiya, which also claims Tarish has tried to stay neutral in the conflict. The Houthis were singing his anthem at rallies after taking the capital in February and some of their leaders have since tried to co-opt him for photo ops.
Maybe his music is just too associated with the old regime that they felt it needed to be silenced – him with it.
Or perhaps this marks the point the Houthis stop focusing on the country as a whole and just decide to take part of it; the moment we go back to there being a North and South Yemen as there was until the early ’90s.
Yet more countries, yet more songs, yet, probably, more strife.