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The War Nerd November 13, 2002
Yemen: A Tough Zit to Pop
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email

Reading the leaks from Washington, you can tell we're gearing up to do something in Yemen. A little regime-change action maybe, a sideshow to the big production number in Iraq. Hitting Yemen makes sense-a lot more sense than occupying Iraq.

Nobody in DC really believes that Saddam and his two million mustache-clone slaves could really threaten a nest of ants, much less America. They peddle that stuff to the suckers, but they don't believe it themselves. They don't believe the crap they throw out about Iraq as a haven for terrorists, either. No Arab militant would be seen dead with Saddam; they hate him as much as we do. Saddam couldn't even persuade Abu Nidal to work for him, for Christ's sake! Abu died in Baghdad last month, and by all accounts he was offed on Saddam's orders, because he wouldn't set up the agent networks Saddam wanted. When a dictator can't make Abu Nidal start up terror networks, folks, then that dictator is just not a competent manager of "human resources," as my asshole Christian boss would say. I think it's pretty clear by now that ol' Saddam is about the worst personnel manager since Jeffrey Dahmer started trying to figure out how to make his tricks stay the night. Fact is, Saddam as terror-monger is a joke. If Iraq is a threat to America's big cities, then I'm a 29" waist.

This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!

This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!

But Yemen...that's a different story. The Yemen connection to Al Qaeda is for real. The attack on the USS Cole in Yemeni waters was just a small sample of the scary stuff waiting for anyone who tries to take Yemen. Sana'a, the Yemeni capital, is full of soldiers, spies and recruiters for every Jihad from Kashmir to Algeria. Bin Laden himself is Yemeni. The bin Laden clan were typical Yemenis: energetic, hardworking, a lot tougher and smarter than the average Arab. Bin Laden's father did a Jed Clampitt: loaded up the truck an' headed for the big money, building big public projects in Riyadh. The Saudis were always happy to let their poor Yemeni cousins do the work.

The Saudis are mixed up in Yemen right up to their noses. Typically for them, the goddamn morons, they were a lot better at stirring up Islamic crazies than controlling them once they were riled up. Saudi Arabia has been trying to keep Yemen off-balance for most of the twentieth century. The last thing they want to see is a strong, united Yemen on their southern borders. They're afraid of the Yemenis-and for good reason. The Saudis have every hi-tech weapon money can buy, but they don't have any soldiers worth a damn. The Yemenis are fiercer, smarter, and quicker by far. They've been warring against each other for decades. They'd go through the fat, phony Saudi Army like a mongoose through a dairy cow.

And that's why trying to pull off a "regime change" in Yemen won't be easy. These people can fight. More importantly, they can fight without getting orders from a central source, unlike the Iraqis. And they can handle any amount of chaos we throw at them. They thrive on it. And as for setting up a "regime change" -- there ain't no "regime" in Yemen in the first place! As my high-school guidance counselor used to say, "That's the root of the whole problem!" The big vacuum where a state would be is what makes Yemen the preferred destination for every Arab radical on the run.

The history of Yemen is uncommonly fucked-up, even by the standards of the Arabian Peninsula. And that's sayin' somethin'!

I mean, where do you want to begin? Pick any date you want; it's going to be the same. Here's a simplified Yemeni history timescale:

2000 BC: Yemen ruled by Queen of Sheba, who's actually mentioned in the Bible. High point of Yemeni development. It's all downhill from here.

1999 BC to 1838 AD.: Anarchy, chaos. Slavetaking and pillage. Tribes controlled by petty chieftains joined in shifting alliances with frequent betrayals.

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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