In Al Jawf, Yemen, near the border of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Rabea al Okaimi controls a vast tribal area filled with people who are poor and uneducated, and who exist beyond government control. They are thought to be anti-American and sympathetic to al Queda, which Rabea disputes, “We don’t have terror in our area,” he says. “What we have are tribal wars, poverty, and illiteracy,.” Seeking a way to improve life in Al Jawf, Rabea sought help from an American NGO, but the obstacles he faces have so far proven to much to be overcome.
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The Al Jawf village, al-Hessn, is frequently shelled by the rival Harndan tribe, whose village can be seen in the distance.
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Sheik Rabea relaxes in one of his three homes in Al Jawf. Each of his three wives lives in one of them.
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Tribesmen admire the sniper's rifle of Saleh Ali al-Hadj (far left) as they wait to meet and lunch with Sheik Rabea.
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Sheik Rabea carries his gun, knife, and cell phone as he travels through Al Jawf to meet and talk with his tribesmen.
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Family members watch over Sirhan bin Jaji Araban at a medical clinic in Mymerra. He was shot in a dispute that prompted by Sheik Rabea al-Okaimi's mediation efforts.
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Sheik Rabea questions members of his tribe as he tries to resolve a conflict in which one person was killed and another was wounded. Since there is no government in Al Jawf, Rabea must mediate disputes by seeking common ground between opposing groups.
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One of Sheik Rabea’s guards listens as a tribal member complains that Rabea should not be hospitable with Americans. One person told him "the U.S. will do to Yemen what it did to Iraq."
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A tank shell leaves a gaping hole in Sheik Rabea al-Okaimi's home in the village of al-Hessen which is on the front lines to the rival Harndan tribe.
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A young boy listens as tribal leaders meet, chew khat, and discuss local issues.
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Sheik Rabea listens as he mediates one of the many conflicts between his people.
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Many of the schools in Al-Jawf are closed because of the tribal warfare and lack of teachers. In this one-room school, the girls sit in the back of the class while boys sit in the front.
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The wind whirls and whips up the dirt near the compound of Sheik Rabea.
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Tribal guards keep an eye out at a border village in Al Jawf.
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Sheep take advantage of a stop at a water hole in al-Jawf where water is very precious.
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At sunrise a young boy wakes up from sleeping on the rooftop of his home as a goat contemplates entering his family's house.