Demons from Hell

October 30, 2010

The recovery on Friday of explosive packages  ,dispatched from Yemen to synagogues in Chicago  on board FedEx and UPS flights,  served to clearly underscore the growing threat from Yemen. Sadly , without a massive overhaul of the country’s economic, social and political infrastructure, there is little that can be done to prevent Yemen from becoming the next Al-Qaeda command post.

For the price of a few hundred dollars,terrorists were able to set off a broad terrorism scare. Law enforcement agencies in several countries were put on high alert, two global corporations — FedEx and UPS — had to disrupt services and inspect dozens of packages around the world, Canadian fighter jets were mobilized, passengers on board a completely innocent commercial flight were scared out of their wits . Even the president of the United States made a short statement on this.

These terrorists, Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula as they call themselves , have yet again demonstrated their ability to cause disproportionate losses to the western world and to disrupt the western way of life. They are fanatical , motivated, and most importantly they seem to have found the perfect hideaway for themselves: Yemen


Yemen is a terrorist paradise. Its geography is extreme in its ruggedness. It has a long and porous border with Saudi Arabia and an equally porous maritime border with Somalia.Yemen is also desperately poor. Most of its population lives on less than $2 a day. The mainstay of its economy , oil is projected to run out by 2017


More worryingly , Yemen might well be the first country in the world to run out of water. Large scale exploitation of water resources, mainly for the cultivation of Khat , a mildly narcotic chewing substance, has led to a severe shortage. Scientists fear that the country is literally chewing itself to death and might have no water left by 2017.

Wadi Dahr khat plantations

To make it worse , the central government has only a tenuous hold on the country. The Houthi rebellion in the north and the tensions between the various tribes in the south has led to the steady erosion of central authority. President Saleh has till now been able to buy off the tribes with the oil money. With oil running out , these rented loyalties might soon evaporate.

All these factors together with the widespread illiteracy, pervasive gun culture, and proximity to Wahhabi ideological centres,  make Yemen  one of the world’s most conducive environment for global terrorist networks to fester and operate. Yemen also provides the ideal geo-strategic location to these groups. Its location on the Arabian peninsula , provides the Al-Qaeda with a terrific  launching platform to overthrow the hated monarchies of the Arabian peninsula. Its proximity to the lawless regions of Somalia ensures safe haven for terrorist leadership in case of any international operation. Yemen is the ultimate geo-strategic nightmare for the western strategist.

In face of the threats, the response of the world community has at best been amateur. Apart from extending millions of dollars in aid to President Saleh, little has been done.  Much of this aid money had been siphoned off by corrupt government officials. There have been no efforts to invest into upgrading the social and physical infrastructure of the country. Nothing has been done to  diversify the nation’s income sources and stave off the looming financial collapse.

Yemen is on its way to becoming another Afghanistan . Something which the world could ill afford.  The war on terrorism , if it starts on this land, might be not winnable at all. The world needs to end this war, before it starts . Terrorism must be stamped out before it takes root in this society. And to do that, we need to do more than throw dollars and send drones.