TIME Innovation

Why Read Hamlet When You Can Play It?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Why read Hamlet when you can play an immersive time-traveling video game version instead?

By Jess Joho in Kill Screen

2. Here’s how to attract female engineers.

By Lina Nilsson in the New York Times

3. Everyone is losing in Yemen’s war.

By Adam Baron in Foreign Policy

4. Google and Facebook could save — or consume — journalism.

By Emily Bell in the Columbia Journalism Review

5. We know how to dramatically reduce teen pregnancies, but we don’t. Here’s why.

By Nora Caplan-Bricker in the National Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Are We Breaking Up With Saudi Arabia?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Is the special Saudi-U.S. relationship on the rocks?

By Ray Takeyh at the Council on Foreign Relations

2. Two-year degrees can really pay off.

By Liz Weston at Reuters

3. A self-contained urban farm, delivered in a box, could slash water use by 90 percent.

By Danny Crichton in TechCrunch

4. How a lake full of methane could power Rwanda and DR Congo.

By Jonathan W. Rosen in MIT Technology Review

5. Nope, we’re not going to live on crickets in the near-future.

By Brooke Borel in Popular Science

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Yemen

Airstrikes Hit Yemen After Saudi Arabia Declares Operation Over

Yemen Conflict
Hani Ali—Corbis A boy looks at the Saudi-led airstrikes on a military camp in Sanaa, Yemen, on April 21, 2015.

(SANAA, Yemen) — Saudi-led airstrikes targeted Iran-backed rebels and their allies in Yemen on Wednesday, hours after Riyadh declared an end to a nearly monthlong air campaign that has claimed hundreds of lives but left the Shiite rebels in control of the capital and much of the country’s north.

The continuing strikes suggest that the U.S.-backed offensive, aimed at restoring Yemen’s internationally recognized president, is entering a new phase in which military action will be scaled back but not halted.

The air raids hit rebel positions in the southern port of Aden and central city of Taiz as ground fighting between the rebels and supporters of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi continued in both areas, Yemeni officials said.

The capital, Sanaa, was calm however, as residents experienced their quietest night in almost four weeks and did not wake up to new scenes of devastation.

The strikes in Taiz hit the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, as they gathered at a military headquarters they control near the old airport to the city’s southeast, the officials said. Also targeted was the southern port city of Aden, where aircraft blasted rebel forces in outlying districts.

Street fighting continued in both cities, especially Taiz, where the officials said pro-government forces control most of the city but have been in heavy combat with the rebels, leaving dozens killed on both sides. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Houthis have called for a massive rally, urging supporters over their Al-Masirah TV network to take to the streets of Sanaa later Wednesday to mark the end of the bombardment and to denounce the Saudi “aggression.”

Iran has provided political and humanitarian support to the Houthis, but both Tehran and the rebels deny it has armed them. On Wednesday Iran welcomed the Saudi decision to halt the operation codenamed “Decisive Storm” and launch a new one titled “Renewal of Hope.”

“We believe this was a positive step,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, adding that “political cooperation” by all parties is needed to resolve the Yemen crisis.

The U.S.-backed air campaign, launched March 26, was aimed at crushing the Houthis and allied military units loyal to former autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had taken over Sanaa and much of northern Yemen.

But the rebels and their allies have lost little ground, and Hadi remains in exile in Saudi Arabia. Aden, where he had established a temporary capital before fleeing the country last month, is gripped by fierce fighting, and al-Qaida’s powerful local affiliate has exploited the chaos to seize the southeastern port city of Mukalla.

The U.S. welcomed the conclusion of the Saudi-led operation, saying it looked forward to a shift from military operations to a quick resumption of negotiations.

“We strongly urge all Yemeni parties, in particular the Houthis and their supporters, to take this opportunity to return to these negotiations as part of the political dialogue,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.

“The Yemeni people deserve the opportunity to hold a peaceful debate about their new constitution, to participate in a credible and safe constitutional referendum, and to vote in free and fair national elections,” she said.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia declared “Decisive Storm” over and announced the start of a more limited military campaign aimed at preventing the rebels from operating.

Speaking at a news conference in Riyadh, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said the heavy airstrikes would be scaled down, but did not confirm whether they would stop altogether.

“There might be less frequency and the scope of the actions might be less, but there will be military action,” Asiri said. He added that Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, were concluding this phase of the operation upon the request of the “legitimate” Yemeni government led by Hadi.

He said the goals of the new operation are to prevent Houthi rebels from “targeting civilians or changing realities on the ground.”

In an apparent goodwill gesture on Wednesday, the rebels released from detention the country’s Defense Minister Mahmoud Al-Subaih, the brother of the embattled President Hadi and a third military commander. The three were held for nearly a month by the Houthis.

The move could reflect an imminent political deal between Hadi and the rebels and their allies.

Pakistan, a close Saudi ally which did not join the coalition but said it supported the campaign, welcomed the end of the airstrikes and expressed hope this would “pave the way for political solution of the crisis in Yemen.”

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that the violence in Yemen has killed 944 people since the start of the airstrikes and wounded 3,500.

Yemeni security officials meanwhile said a suspected U.S. drone strike killed seven al-Qaida fighters in the country’s east on Wednesday.

They said the militants were travelling in a car in Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, where al-Qaida has recently made advances and struck deals with local tribesmen. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Yemen’s chaos has forced the U.S. to scale back drone strikes on al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the local affiliate is known. AQAP has carried out a number of failed attacks on the U.S. and claimed the deadly attack on a French satirical magazine earlier this year. It has long been seen as the global network’s most potent local affiliate.

___

Rohan reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Najran, Saudi Arabia, Asif Shahzad in Islamabad and Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

TIME Yemen

U.S. Warship Heads to Yemeni Waters to Intercept Iranian Weapons

The USS Theodore Roosevelt anchors off the coast on March 23, 2015 in Gosport, England.
Dan Kitwood—Getty Images The USS Theodore Roosevelt anchors off the coast on March 23, 2015 in Gosport, England.

(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Navy officials say the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen and will join other American ships prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi (HOO’-thee) rebels fighting in Yemen.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of Iranian ships may be headed toward Yemen to arm the Houthis.

The Houthis are battling government-backed fighters in an effort to take control of the country.

There are about nine U.S. ships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ship movement on the record.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. America loves to take sides in regional conflicts. In Yemen, we shouldn’t.

By Paul R. Pillar in the National Interest

2. Here’s why Congress should drop the ban on federal funds for needle exchanges. (It’s because they work.)

By Kevin Robert Frost at CNN

3. Cheap coal is a lie.

By Al Gore and David Blood in the Guardian

4. How small-batch distilling could save family farms.

By Andrew Amelinckx in Modern Farmer

5. Can you fix city management with data? Mike Bloomberg is betting $42 million you can.

By Jim Tankersley at the Washington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Iran

Iran Foreign Minister Urges Talks With West to Solve Crisis in Yemen

Smoke rises during an air strike on an army weapons depot on a mountain overlooking Yemen's capital Sanaa April 20, 2015.
Khaled Abdullah—Reuters Smoke rises during an air strike on an army weapons depot on a mountain overlooking Yemen's capital Sanaa April 20, 2015.

Mohammad Javad Zarif says U.S. and its allies must choose between "cooperation and confrontation"

Iran’s Foreign Minister has called for dialogue with the U.S. and Western allies to confront crises in its regional neighbors, saying civil war-torn Yemen would be a “good place to start.”

Mohammad Javad Zarif, who reached a framework agreement on his country’s nuclear program earlier this month with the U.S. and its negotiating partners, also tied the agreement to broader regional cooperation.

“To seal the anticipated nuclear deal, more political will is required,” he wrote in an op-ed article in the New York Times. “It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion.”

Zarif, who was named this year as one of the TIME 100 most influential people in the world, said a forum for dialogue in the Sunni Persian Gulf states could help the traditional rivals to solve crises in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria has seized swathes of territory, and in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has spearheaded airstrikes against the rebel Houthis, a Shi’ite group with ties to Iran. Iran denies allegations that it has armed the group and is calling for a ceasefire.

“If one were to begin serious discussion of the calamities the region faces, Yemen would be a good place to start,” Zarif wrote.

Underscoring the rising violence in Yemen, an airstrike Monday morning in Sana’a, the capital, set off an enormous explosion that shook the city and reportedly killed dozens of people.

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME Yemen

The U.N. Envoy to Yemen Has Quit

YEMEN-POLITICS-UNREST-SOUTH-DIALOGUE
MOHAMMED HUWAIS—AFP/Getty Images Jamal Benomar, UN envoy to Yemen, speaks during a press conference conference in Sanaa December 24, 2013.

Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar had lost the support of the Gulf countries in his mission

The U.N. envoy to Yemen has resigned, citing “an interest in moving on to another assignment.”

Jamal Benomar, who has served as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to the Middle Eastern country since 2012, reportedly threw in the towel due to lack of support from Gulf countries for his peacekeeping endeavors, reports the AFP.

“A successor shall be named in due course,” read a statement from the U.N. “Until that time and beyond, the United Nations will continue to spare no efforts to relaunch the peace process in order to get the political transition back on track.”

Benomar had already mentioned the possibility of resigning in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, saying he had already expressed his desire to step down to the Secretary-General.

The conflict in Yemen is continuing to escalate as Shi‘ite Houthi rebels march on the country’s major port Aden after capturing the capital city of Sana‘a. The fighting has reportedly killed over 700 people and wounded more than 2,700 others.

The U.N. Security Council earlier this week adopted a resolution calling for the resumption of peace talks, even as coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia continued to carry out air strikes. The Saudi offensive has been criticized by other countries in the region, with Iran — whom it accuses of arming the Houthis — calling it “genocide.”

Iran’s neighbor Iraq also traded barbs with the Saudis on Wednesday, when Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said there was “no logic to the operation at all in the first place.” The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. later said there was “no logic” to al-Abadi’s remarks, and denied reports that Yemeni civilians had been killed in some of the air strikes.

Benomar’s successor, meanwhile, has been tipped as Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who currently leads the U.N. Ebola mission in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 13

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Why do we need human pilots again?

By John Markoff in the New York Times

2. We thought education would unlock the potential of Arab women. We were half right.

By Maysa Jalbout at the Brookings Institution

3. Peru found a 1,000 year-old solution to its water crisis.

By Fred Pearce in New Scientist

4. Why Saudi Arabia might need to break the country in two to “win” its war in Yemen.

By Peter Salisbury in Vice

5. Startup accelerators are great…we think.

By Randall Kempner and Peter Roberts in the Wall Street Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistani Lawmakers Vote to Stay Out of Yemen Conflict

Pakistan's Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, center, leaves Parliament after a joint session discussing the crisis in Yemen, in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 7, 2015.
Anjum Naveed—AP Pakistan's Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, center, leaves parliament after a joint session discussing the crisis in Yemen, in Islamabad on April 7, 2015

Pakistan's parliament voted no to the Saudi-led coalition and adopted a resolution to call the warring parties to seek peaceful dialogue

(ISLAMABAD) — Pakistan’s parliament has decided not to join the Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen, with lawmakers adopting a resolution calling on the warring parties to resolve the conflict through peaceful dialogue.

After days of debating, Pakistani lawmakers on Friday unanimously voted in favor of a resolution saying that the parliament desires “Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis.”

The predominantly Sunni Pakistan, which has a Shiite minority of its own and shares a long border with the Shiite powerhouse Iran, has been concerned about getting involved in Yemen’s increasingly sectarian conflict and a Saudi-Iran proxy war in the region.

TIME Yemen

Yemen Rebels Capture City, Iran Condemns Saudi Air Campaign

Smoke billows from a Saudi-led airstrike on Sanaa, Yemen, April 8, 2015
Hani Mohammed—AP Smoke billows from a Saudi-led air strike on Sanaa, Yemen, on April 8, 2015

Shi‘ite rebels made significant territorial gains by capturing a city despite a third week of Saudi-led air strikes

(SANAA, Yemen) — Shiite rebels and allied troops overran the capital of an oil-rich Yemeni province in a heavily Sunni area on Thursday, making significant territorial gains despite Saudi-led airstrikes, now entering their third week.

Iran, which is trying to garner international support to stop the bombing, stepped up its condemnation, with the supreme leader calling the air campaign “genocide.”

The rebel fighters, known as Houthis, along with military units loyal to former autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, overran Ataq, the capital of oil-rich Shabwa province, after days of airstrikes and clashes with local Sunni tribes.

The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an air and sea blockade on Yemen and targeted the rebels and their allies to try to create a safe corridor that would allow the return of Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the country last month.

The conflict pits the Saudi-led Sunni Gulf Arab coalition against Shiite rival Iran, which supports the Houthis and has provided humanitarian aid, though both Iran and the rebels deny it has armed them.

The growing regional involvement risks transforming what until now has been a complex power struggle into a full-blown sectarian conflict like those raging in Syria and Iraq.

On Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, compared the Saudi-led strikes to Israel’s bombing in the Gaza Strip. “This is a crime, genocide and legally pursuable,” he said, according to his website. “It is necessary for the Saudis to withdraw from disastrous crimes. … Yemenis will resist and will win.”

He also lashed out at what he called “a few inexperienced young men” controlling affairs in Saudi Arabia — a veiled reference to the Saudi king’s son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, who is leading the air campaign. “They prefer barbaric behavior over dignity,” Khamenei said.

In a speech in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged a cease-fire in Yemen to allow for broad-based talks on resolving the crisis.

“To the countries in the region, I say, let’s adopt the spirit of brotherhood. Let’s respect each other and other nations,” Rouhani said. “Do not kill innocent children. Let’s think about an end to the war, about cease-fire and humanitarian assistance to the suffering people of Yemen.”

Comparing the Saudi-led campaign to Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition is targeting Islamic State militants, he added: “You will learn … that you are making a mistake in Yemen, too.”

Saudi Arabia and its allies maintain their involvement is not sectarian but rather an attempt to curtail an increasingly expansionist Iran they accuse of exerting influence in a growing number of Arab countries, including Yemen. Iran denies it is meddling, and accuses the Sunni Gulf countries of inciting sectarianism in the region.

Speaking on PBS News Hour late Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington has information that Iran is providing military assistance to the rebels.

“There are a number of flights every single week that have been flying in. We trace those flights and we know this. We are well aware of the support Iran has been giving Yemen,” Kerry said. “Iran needs to recognize that the U.S. is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines — international boundaries — in other countries.”

Meanwhile, there was little sign the airstrikes have curtailed the rebels’ advance.

The capture of Ataq came after days of clashes as well as negotiations with local tribes. When the Houthis and Saleh loyalists entered the city they encountered little resistance, raising questions about whether Yemen’s fractured tribes — even in Sunni areas — can serve as reliable allies.

Military and tribal officials said leading tribe members facilitated the rebels’ entry after days of fighting, with one official saying the Sunni tribesmen didn’t want to keep on fighting, even though they were assisted by coalition airstrikes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Ataq residents said the rebels and allied soldiers installed checkpoints all around the city. “Ataq is like a military barracks. A tank here, an armored vehicle there and non-stop patrols,” said resident Saleh al-Awlaki. “I consider this an occupation by all means. And all occupation must be removed, also by all means.”

Mohamed Abkar, another resident, said residents looted unguarded weapons warehouses in the city on Wednesday, but not a shot was fired as the rebels entered the city.

Letting the rebels and Saleh forces in the city was “treason,” resident Khaled al-Wahabi said, blaming local tribes for facilitating their entry. “Shabwa tribes should bear the blame,” he said.

Soon after the city’s capture, residents reported that coalition jets bombed military camps in the area.

The spokesman for the coalition forces, Ahmed Assiri, confirmed the airstrikes and said the aim at this phase of the campaign was to cut off rebel supply lines and communications between the capital Sanaa, and rebel strongholds in the north.

The Houthis and their allies have seized 10 of Yemen’s 21 provinces but could encounter resistance in Shabwa from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudi-led bombing — backed by U.S. arms shipments and intelligence sharing — threatens to weaken the rebels and Saleh’s loyalists, who are al-Qaida’s most powerful opponents on the ground.


Karimi reported from Tehran, Iran. Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Cairo and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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