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29 December 2009


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My proposal either create genetically modified fungus that kill khat tree, or introduce transgenic khat with cannabis property instead of stimulant like khat.

in essence, the entire Yemen will crash due to withdrawal symptom no getting their khat.

What is with these crazies and their drug? (just like opium in afghanistan)

Clifford Kiracofe

How quaint. Isn't UBL's family from there?

Why don't we just let them kill themselves? We can watch it from time to time on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya over drinks in the comfort of our own living rooms...

A late friend of the family, she was the widow of an American diplomat, told me an amazing story about a mission their friend Bill Eddy had to the ruler of Yemen during WWII...a different world.

Abu Sinan

Yeah, I know a bunch of Yemenis here. They are Zaidi, who self describe themselves as "Shi'a Lite".

My wife is originally Yemeni on her father's side, as are many Saudis, including bin Laden.

It is not a place we want to get heavily involved in if we can avoid it, but it wouldnt be the first time it has been the battleground for ideologies not homegrown, think Nasr and Pan Arabism.


Quagmires are US...

Patrick Lang


Meaningless. pl

William R. Cumming

Are they still chewing Khat in Yemen?

The Saudis have been launching air strikes!

What have they been hitting in Yemen?


Your description of Yemen makes Afghanistan seem quaint by comparison.

I hope you are feeling better.


It seems as though you have described Afghanistan, just with some substitutions ("coastal" for "riverine" and maybe "Sunni" for "Shi'a")--except that the Yemen is a little less poor, and has had continuity of the central government. Are there any other differences that matter?

DE Teodoru

Yemen is not an entity we can either generalize about nor deal with holistically. Please note what a prior mess Obama is digging himself deeper into is coming to:

American hubris is turning into egomania as Israel and neocons lead our generals by the nose into fun and games killing Muslims indiscriminantly. Generals fearing pink-slpinig as in post-Vietnam want neocon "WW IV" to go on to "victory" (eg. their retirement so they can run for president). Should I tell my American grandkids that it's over because we're going to chase psycho teens who fail to bomb airliners all over the world because we can't get good air-security people?

Meanwhile back in Afghanistan the ragged Taliban advances while McChrystal makes blue smoke PowerPoints:

The Dems had an obsession, the old saying about Ike and Korea: DEMS START WARS AND REPS FINISH THEM. In 1967 Nixon made clear that Vietnam made action on Mideast in 1967 impossible and never again would he as president allow Vietnam to cripple the US elsewhere. So his plan-- HE *DID* HAVE A PLAN-- was to protect China's NORTH in return for China blocking North Vietnam's march West to India as a Soviet proxy. To prove that the US had no intent to put permanent bases under China's soft underbelly, he pulled out of Vietnam. When Hanoi did attack, the Dems were so worried that after the 1972 Offensive Saigon might survive and reinforce that old saying that they cut off Saigon from bullets to gas to medical supplies. But when Saigon collapsed, the Chinese stuck to the deal and asked Thieu's replacement as President, Big Minh, to hold out surrender for 48 hrs while Chinese stop Hanoi's march at Dalat. Minh had this Diemist thing about "entre nous vietnameins" and refused. But when Hanoi moved West after consolidating the South, China attacked, again keeping its word and saving Thailand. To understand what this meant we must read NSA transcripts from 1958 when Ike insisted that we take a forced stance in Laos because if Laos goes Thailand is gone; so while Ike didn't see intrinsic value in Indochina, he wanted to hold it as the "cork in the bottle" that stop's Hanoi's march West over SE Asia. Weeeeell, it looks like the then VP, in 1970s president, Tricky-Dick Nixon snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as he worked out a deal with China and crevassed a massive irreparable cut between Soviets and Chicoms that made Reagan's Cold War victory possible. Responding to the Soviet offer of a "tonsillectomy" on the Chinese, attacking their nuclear facilities, Nixon as pre-elect warned that any attack on China is an attack on US. He thus snatched Vietnam victory (saving Thailand) from jaws of defeat. But Obama is a bit of an ass and doesn't read history. Petraeus (reading his PhD thesis) and McChrystal must be cognitively illiterate out of careerist ambition and know no history. West Point class of 76 is made up of generals that should have been limited to sergeant because West Point was hard-up for students. We are paying now for the inability of the Pentagon to learn from Vietnam. I recall a general on loan to the Bush White house warning me in 2003 that if I want meaningful dialogue with him on Iraq I better never bring up that "looooser's war, Vietnam." The dumb always get the stars because they are so good at fetching the ball for their masters. But what do you do when the stars got their heads?

Please read below and contemplate the analogy:


DE Teodoru

corrected, sorry

Yemen is not an entity we can either generalize about nor deal with holistically. Please note what a prior mess Obama is digging himself deeper into is coming to while our soldiers live like animals:


....and a bit of the Soviet memory that explains why they want revenge:


DE Teodoru

corrected, again, sorry, again!

One thing about neocons, when they want war they want it as WORLD WAR IV against ALL Islam. Note Lieberman's demand of Obama:


We're suppose to kill Arabs at one end while Israeli forces kill Palestinians at the other. Perhaps this will explain why this drive to kill Arabs everywhere by Lieberman:



Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Sean Paul Kelley


Question for you: have you ever tried qat? Do you know what it's like? I have. It's like two very strong cups of coffee. Nothing more, nothing less. Get off the puritan anti-drug hobby horse. The Yemeni's could certainly have a better case for criticising us for our obsessive alcohol intake.


The late Middle Ages. Pl
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Charles I

"the next. . . "

Then by all means, don't go there. Pay the Saudi's or something.


When I was Defatt in yemen the saudis were paying us and the Taiwanese to do what you want the Saudis to do. There were half a dozen wars in Yemen then. Pl
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.



Do you think Yemen is becoming an Al Qaeda sanctuary like Afghanistan once was?

The Yemenis seem too busy killing and kidnapping each other to bother fighting any great satan outside their borders, or provide any stable long term sanctuary for training camps and the like.

Also Yemen doesn't have to resist direct influence or domination from any non-muslim country.

So it's not quiet enough to be a rear base, and there's no transcendent cause there for arab-afghan volunteers to die for.

Al Qaeda doesn't seem to have any place left in the world to coalesce anymore.
What's left seems to be police and spook work.


I think this is all nonsense for the reasins you list. Pl
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Patrick Lang


That was always the case. That is what I did there. pl

Patrick Lang


I think that is a bit much. I have seen them so "banged " on qat that they could have walked across the sky. pl

The Twisted Genius

Yemen may very well be on the road to becoming a quagmire for the U.S., however this "underwear bomb" incident points out a quagmire closer to home.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve reported that a "single well placed source" told her that the underwear bomber's father was interviewed by a CIA officer and a report was prepared and sent to Langley. A State Department spokesperson said a report was prepared and sent to the National Counterterrorism Center. And yet AbdulMutallab's name and passport number were not put on the no fly list. The State Department spokeperson added that "any decision to have revoked the suspect's visa would have been an interagency decision."

What a crock! What interagency process puts Ted Kennedy and Cat Stevens on the no fly list but dismisses the warnings of a prominent Nigerian businessman about his own son? These interagency meetings must make the mad hatter's tea party look like a dignified affair. This was an intelligence failure similar to 9/11. I thought the 9/11 Commission's reforms and DHS were supposed to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 intel failures. The whole CNN report smacked of bureaucrats making up lies to cover their sorry, incompetent asses. We are doomed!


The Yemeni's could certainly have a better case for criticising us for our obsessive alcohol intake.

Posted by: Sean Paul Kelley | 29 December 2009 at 04:47 PM

Khat psychoactive ingredient is cathinone, a methamphetamine analog. However its concentration is low in leaf and can't be extracted easily like coca leaf. (another leaf earthling love to chew, next to tobacco.) Cathinone is a Schedule I drug under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act. (not sure why they even bother categorizing it.)

Compare to alcohol? They don't have a case, not even close, even counting fatal alcohol related accidents. Khat has bigger economic impact. Water use, a scarce resource in Yemen and the widespread use obviously eating up good part of Yemenis income. Tho' if they are happy spending afternoon chewing it, who am I to complain how they should run their economy. Just don't come begging for money when oil and water run out. (7 and 20 years, respectively.)

anyway, overview of Yemen problems. (It's pretty bleak, specially the part of not having real economy after oil runs out.)


Sean Paul Kelley

Fair enough Col. Lang. Truth be told, I tried qat while in Ethiopia a few years ago. It really didn't do much to me, as I wrote: it felt like I'd drank several cups of coffee very fast. But other than that? Perhaps the qat in Amharaland isn't quite like the qat in Yemen. I sure wish I had visited Yemen last March when I was in Oman. Another missed opportunity.


Given that Yemen's population is rapidly expanding (almost half are under 15) and that their oil fields are running dry, at what point will they not be able to afford to feed themselves?

David Habakkuk

It is going to be 'déjà vu all over again', is it not: nothing is learnt, or at least not much.

In Washington -- as also in London -- there is this undentable conviction that we are the clever ones who understand the world, while those we are dealing with in countries outside the charmed world of 'Western civilisation' do not really know what is going on.

In fact, when it comes to the kind of knowledge that matters in dealing with the Yemen -- as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia etc etc etc -- the boot is commonly on the other foot. People from these places with in-depth local knowledge, and who in many cases have more or less imbibed Machiavellian intrigue with their mother's milk, will outfox us time and again.

One of my favourite examples of this kind of inanity comes in the long article on Ahmad Chalabi which Dexter Filkins published in the NYT back in 2006. Confronted by an actually rather minor example of that effrontery which is Chalabi's stock in trade, Filkins wrote:

Shameless, huh? I thought so, too. Almost a thing of beauty. It was so outrageous I almost wanted to forgive him, as a teacher might her sassy but cleverest boy. And that’s the thing about Chalabi: he's very difficult to dislike. It may be his secret.

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/05/magazine/05CHALABI.html?_r=1.)

The fact that Chalabi had taken the government of the United States, quite spectacularly, to the cleaners seems not to have dented the conviction of Filkins that he was in a position to patronise him: or made him contemplate the possibility that Chalabi may have regarded him as a 'useful idiot'.

What makes this failure all the more remarkable, and depressing, is that precisely this assumption of superiority had been one of the things which Chalabi had deftly and devastatingly exploited, in luring the U.S. and U.K. into a war from which the major beneficiary was the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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