Way back in the day when our ethnic groups used to self deprecate, Jumpin Jiminey was was an exclamation used by the Nordic ethnic groups. Today, in our great excitement, it seems our defense and political leaders have pulled the emergency handle on Yemen.
It seems that the NSA overheard a conference call between Ayman al Zahawari and his contacts in Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere. He basically told them to “do something” from the news reports. Al Q’aeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been a special concern of the United States ever since Anwar al Awlaki decamped there, running much of the global organizations recruiting efforts.
Al Awlaki was the magical connection between 9/11 and the Ft. Hood bombings and the London bombings.He conducted a high-profile radicalization program in the UK from 2002-2004 before moving to Yemen to further the goals of Al Q’aeda. He recruited hundreds of fighters and was one of our most dangerous enemies. It was a good thing that a Hellfire missile found him and sent him on his way to Allah.
He was hiding out in his family’s traditional tribal area of Yemen; Shabwa, which was one of the areas of the Aden Protectorate at the time where the British military fought a low-grade war for many years in the 1950’s and 60’s, primarily against the communists and the tribes associated with Gamal Nasser’s pan-Arabist movement. A perverse coincidence but indicative of the culture of warfare.
South Yemen is a land of treachery and vendetta and home-grown terrorism long before the was an Al Q’aeda. During the Emergency the two major rebel organizations fought each other and the British, tossing hand grenades into British children’s parties and in on case blowing up an airliner full of civilians. Shabwa was a major center of insurgency. Today it is no different.
Nasir al Wuhayshi, the leader of AQAP is from Mukayras not far from al Awlaki’s Shabwa. he was ignored for the most part by intelligence services in favor of al Awlaki and other high value targets. He was Bin Laden’s secretary, probably the person closest to the terrorist mastermind for the longest period of time. Bin Laden’s Boswell, if you will.
Now he is the head terrorist in charge in the wildest, most violent corner of the world. It is a country with a little bit of oil and a useful port and that’s about it. AQAP is much more interested in infiltrating Saudi Arabia next door, but it is a safe haven for the bomb makers.
al Wuhayshi’s family connections as well as al Awlaki’s are vital to AQAP. They extend into the very heart and soul of Yemeni identity. The al Awlaki clan is among the most powerful in south Yemen. And underlying all of this is the hatred between North and South Yemen.
The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) was the only socialist country in the Middle East, primarily because of the union movement when it was called Aden under the British. It had a history of intrigue and violence that would make a great movie.
So you have North Yemen, formerly run by the sheikhs and traditional in nature and South Yemen, which was ruled for 20 years under a radical Marxist, xenophobic regime. And in the hinterlands, the tribes, who never changed.
Many reporters are now writing about losing Yemen. This is absurd. We never had Yemen to begin with. Our strategic interest is to, as the British did, suppress piracy and to keep Al Q’aeda bottled up like bees in a jar. Cut off their travel options. Let them trash their own country and forget about them. And if they ever try to pull something, lay waste to them.