YEMEN: The Eighth Son

All the nine recognized sons of aging (77) Yahya bin Mohamed bin Hamid el Din, Imam of Yemen, in the southwestern corner of Arabia, are entitled to be called Saif el Islam (Sword of Islam). The Swords have frequently crossed each other, vying for succession to the black mattress with red cushions which is the Imam's couch of state in his capital, Sana. Yahya, who believes in one-man government, named his own successor—eldest son Ahmed, governor of Taiz province. But according to Yemenite tradition, a council of eleven elders should choose the new Imam. So the other sons have...

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