NEW YORK (Dec. 4)
Although virtually all of Yemen’s 50,000 Jews emigrated to Israel via “Operation Flying Carpet” in 1949-50, the handful that remained behind includes a man who is today the most powerful figure in that Arab state on the southern end of the Red Sea. He is Kadi (Judge) Iriani, the Jewish adopted son of a wealthy Moslem family. The Kadi of Yemen is Chief of State and the First among Equals in its collective leadership.
Iriani’s Jewish background and the fact that he has relatives in Israel did not hinder him from rising to the top leadership of an Islamic country according to Horst J. Andel, writing recently in the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten. But Iriani’ has many problems. These include keeping in line both the mountain tribes loyal to the overthrown Yemeni monarchy and the tribes who fought with the Republicans. The tribes threaten to march on the capital and massacre the weak government, Andel reported.
But under the Kadi, Yemen appears to be emerging from the dark ages, Andel reported. Although bitterly opposed by the feudal sheikhs, the country is now installing a modern communications system and an economic and social infrastructure more in keeping with the 20th century. A small Army is being trained by Soviet instructors though partially with Western weapons, he reported.