Suicide Bombing Memorial, Sana'a, Yemen. © Christopher Swift 2012

Suicide Bombing in Sana’a

Sana’a, Yemen – After meeting my driver and interpreter this morning, we drove directly to the site of the May 21 suicide bombing in Sana’a. After navigating through the twisting cobblestone passages of the Old City, we drove down dusty boulevards towards the Al-Saleh Mosque–a glorious $80 million structure named for Yemen’s recently-deposed president. My…

Sana'a, Yemen

The City of Noah

Sana’a, Yemen – Crossing into Syrian airspace this evening, my flight found itself buffeted by powerful crosswinds. Barometric pressure dropped swiftly, triggering the storm alarm feature on my mountaineering watch and giving me about fifteen seconds to grip the armrest and brace for the next bout of turbulence. Looking back, the circumstances seemed a fitting…

Yemeni Protestors

The Perils of Armchair Analysis

Istanbul, Turkey – International travel is swiftly loosing its sense of drama. Arriving at the airport, we are ticketed, screened, and sorted before being strapped into into our seats and hurtled across time zones. The experience leaves little time for farewells and less for personal reflection. Instead we preoccupy ourselves with mundane aggravations: bad traffic,…

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Fieldwork in Yemen

Washington, DC — Over the last few years I’ve traveled to several crisis zones in an effort to understand al-Qaeda’s relationship with local militants. As a graduate student I spend several weeks in Afghanistan examining the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Research later led me to the North Caucasus, where I studied the regionalization of…

Batken, Kyrgyzstan

Crossing into Kyrgyzstan

Batken, Kyrgyzstan — Early this afternoon I hired a car in the Isfara bazaar and crossed from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan at the border near Batken. To my surprise, a Tajik border guard accompanied us to the checkpoint. I don’t know what sort of transaction may have transpired between the boarder guard and my Kyrgyz driver. All I…