Prison Time in Sana'a

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Pub Date 9 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 9 Nov 2021


Prison Time in Sana'a tells the story of Dr Abdulkader Al-Guneid’s harrowing experience inside jail in Yemen’s capital shortly after it was taken over by Houthi rebels.

In his hometown of Taiz, Al-Guneid had been an outspoken figure on Yemeni politics as long ago as the 1980s when he served as mayor of Taiz  He subsequently became a prominent commentator on the 2014 coup by the Houthi movement and loyalists of ex-President Saleh. His social media blogs and interviews were read around the world and attracted a global following from an audience anxious to hear an explanation of the conflict. Ultimately, his activism placed him in the movement’s crosshairs, leading to his abduction on 5 August 2015 and incarceration in a Houthi jail in Sana'a.

For the next 300 days, Al-Guneid shared his time with American hostages, Houthi fighters, Al Qaeda militants and ordinary Yemenis caught up in the conflict. His abduction attracted international attention, as academics, journalists and politicians from around the world called for his release. With Saudi airstrikes pounding the city and sharing his cramped cell a colorful cast of fellow inmates, Al-Guneid became the unofficial prison doctor, spending his time treating illnesses and raising spirits.

Following his release, Al-Guneid wrote about his experience from exile in Canada. Initially typing his entire account on his mobile phone, his story has since been distilled into a deeply personal account experiences which offer a candid perspective on the Yemen crisis.

His story is in two parts. Following on from his personal account of his incarceration, Al-Guneid shares his thoughts on the background of the rising, introducing us to the main protagonists in the fractured political landscape of Yemen.

Through an eyewitness account of the insurgency, as well as fascinating insights into fragmentation, doubt and paranoia within the Houthi movement, Prison Time in Sana'a is a remarkable chronicle of events. It comes at a critical juncture for Yemen. Military escalation and COVID-19 have put the beleaguered nation on the brink of disaster while the conflict is also threatening to spill across the entire region as one of the most incendiary theatres in the in the proxy struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Prison Time in Sana'a tells the story of Dr Abdulkader Al-Guneid’s harrowing experience inside jail in Yemen’s capital shortly after it was taken over by Houthi rebels.

In his hometown of Taiz...

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ISBN 9780992980870
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Featured Reviews

This is focused more on the Houthi-Saleh military coup in Yemen and the politics around it rather than the doctors experience in prison. He was arrested because of what he wrote on Facebook and Twitter with one person saying that 'your words are stronger than bullets' which I thought was a fantastic way of putting it. I also completely agree with his opinion that 'all politicians have bad records historically and ulterior motives for the future.' There is some mention of Al-Qaeda as he had cellmates who were lured to become Al-Qaeda but also some who were fanatical about it. Some of the promises made make me think of the early rise of Hitler and how he appealed to a lot of people by promising each section of society something that they wanted. Overall, he could probably have left prison a lot earlier if it weren't for his refusal to back down and let go of his convictions which considering his circumstances in prison is quite amazing. I also think it would have made more sense to the reader if you read part 2 first which details the uprising and then his prison diaries as it would give more context surrounding his arrest. Overall an interesting insight into the Yemeni crisis from someone who was actually there.

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Interesting read. Although it wasn’t quite how I’d imagined it would be from the description and title . I thought there would have been more details about the time in prison. But it focuses more on the political side of things. It was good to read anyway

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