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The War Nerd November 13, 2002
Yemen: A Tough Zit to Pop
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 3 of 4
The locals were so embarrassed at this "peace" thing that they got to work and started up the good ol' North vs. South Civil War again in 1994. This time it was the South saying it wanted out of United Yemen. (You can't blame them. If I had a family like this, I'd be down at the courthouse with a petition for a name-change first thing on Monday morning.) The new war was going very nicely, with the Saudis sniffing around the borders looking to make a little extra trouble without actually having to fight, like the overfed jackals they are.

If this all sounds completely insane, that's because it is. Fact is, Yemen doesn't have a "history" like some nice European country. What's the history of a gangfight? We're talking about the Horn of Africa, for God's sake! Somalia is just across the straits! Small-scale war (or big-time banditry, if you prefer) is a way of life in those parts. There are inland zones in Yemen where kidnapping for profit is still the big local industry. The power of the government, if any, never really made it into these "tribal areas like Hawdramawt, which is a permanent no-go zone for government troops. If you have the money or the right connections, you're welcome in the "Tribal Areas." The backwoods Yemenis are kind of like backwoods people anywhere: they don't trust the gummin't, not even a little, and they have a soft spot for outlaws on the run. If anybody from the Yemeni government tried to come in and take out a "guest," they'd be violating those "age-old laws of hospitality" you always hear about these savages having. These tribal hosts resent that. And they express their feelings with AKs and RPGs.

Last year we found out just how seriously they resent it. The US prodded the Yemenis to send troops into one of the "tribal areas" to flush out some Al Qaeda suspects sheltering with the locals. It was not what you would call an unqualified success: 18 government soldiers died, versus three local "tribal fighters." I'd say the locals won that one. I'd say somebody got himself ambushed. And I'd say that if I were a Yemeni soldier, I'd report sick on the day they sent the next patrol into that neighborhood.

Might as well fight another war!

Might as well fight another war!

The most obvious lesson from Yemen's incredibly fucked-up history is that these people are good guerrilla fighters. They've been at it long enough, damn it -- they should be good at it by now. So it would be a big mistake to treat Yemen like Iraq. The invasion of Iraq is going to be a cakewalk, militarily. I mean, Jeez -- remember Sam Kinison's bit on the Iraqi Army? "They were surrendering to video cameras! 'Put your hands up or I'll zoom! I'll do it! Don't make me zoom you!"

Yemenis are a different breed. They fight back. And they fight dirty.

But hey, so do we. We fight dirty with the best of 'em. There was a truly glorious kill last week in Yemen, when a Hellfire launched from a CIA Predator RPV managed to vaporize a half-dozen Al Qaeda guys who were driving around Yemen in their SUV. I wonder if any of the surviving relatives tried to collect on the insurance. "Sorry guys, Toyota Landcruisers are not warranted against the impact of a Hellfire missile." The Hellfire warhead was designed to penetrate the turret armor of a 55-ton tank, so you can imagine what an easy time it had annihilating an SUV.

Did you see the pictures of the kill-scene? That's my idea of good porn. There was just a smudge on the ground where the SUV had been. You'd've needed dental records to decide what make and model it was. Quincy, M.D.: "The molars look Toyota, but the bicuspids are Honda..."

As for the occupants, there were no body-parts left at all. This was one accident where even my Driver's Ed teacher, who was totally insane on the subject of seatbelts, would've had to admit that buckling up wouldn't've made much difference. Even driver-side airbags wouldn't have helped these fuckers.

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Gary Brecher
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