Yemen: The Few, The Loud, The Well Medicated


August 13, 2010:  Al Qaeda has, once again, declared its intention of overthrowing the Saudi government. Al Qaeda in Arabia is much more effective at making grand proclamations, than it is in carrying them out. There aren't many of these Islamic terrorists, they aren't very good at what they say they can do, but they are still vicious killers if you get in their way.

Saudi border police arrest over 3,000 Yemenis a week at the frontier. Over 97 percent of these Yemenis are seeking jobs, the rest are smugglers and other criminals. On average, each week the Saudi guards seize 36 bottles of whiskey, 40 kg of hashish (and smaller quantities of other stuff like cocaine), nearly 4,000 pills (ecstasy, pain killers, others) and, mostly, Khat (60 tons a week of the narcotic leaf). There's much less smuggling going the other way (500-1,000 head of livestock and a few dozen stolen cars and trucks in a typical week). Given the number of Yemenis coming across, it's relatively easy for a terrorist to cross, because most of those who try to cross, don't get caught. But if you do get arrested, the Saudis have an impressive database of Yemenis and Saudis.

August 12, 2010: The government issued a list of the eight most wanted al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen. For all their bluster, there are not a lot of active al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen. In the last week or so, there have been a few shootings, usually against army checkpoints, patrols or the cars of government officials. There's only been one suicide bombing in the last two weeks.

August 11, 2010: The air force made three attacks on a rural village where known al Qaeda members were believed to be hiding out. There was gunfire from the ground in response to the attacks.

August 9, 2010: In the north, Shia tribesmen released a hundred soldiers and pro-government tribesmen, in honor of the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

August 7, 2010: In the south, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for ambushing an army patrol near an oil field. Six soldiers were killed.

August 6, 2010: Two Saudi border guards were killed by fifteen Yemeni smugglers, who were transporting half a ton of hashish. The Saudi guards chased the smugglers back into Yemen, and captured the hashish.




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