A Travelogue of Felix Arabia, late Autumn 2022
A Travelogue of Felix Arabia, by our own AHH
Caveat lector: a week’s travel is insufficient to get a good handle on a different people. That being said I married a woman born in and of southern Yemeni culture and learned much over the years from her and their other expats. Additionally, I have a huge affection for them and share a common “language” or weltanschauung, and thus much was laid bare for me in a short time.
The southern Yemeni region of Hadhramaut is mired in the same uneasy stasis seen in occupied Syria and much of our tormented world, awaiting the death spasms of the Hegemon to quiet. Hadhramaut is decidedly unlike other provinces of Yemen. The others are populated by militant and assertive tribes unafraid to fight for their independence. They often serve as proxy-fighters for top bidders, whether local, regional or global. Hadharamis on the other hand are a delightful cosmopolitan mix of small businessman, craftsmen, small farmers (including their world-famous honey of the Wadi Do’ani (a long narrow fertile valley in their north), fishermen and Sufi seminary scholars. (01) The last generations have not been kind to them. Like the USA, and by will of the same supranationalist forces, their infrastructure was ruined through lack of maintenance and investment, not to mention frank sabotage when possible. Emiratis and other envious Gulf neighbors worked to impoverish them, often as willing proxies of the Hegemon but usually for more prosaic opportunism to devastate a potent regional business competitor. This former jewel of the Arabian Sea physically rots in front of our eyes yet its wise people bear no grudges and bide their time, like Sleeping Beauty aslumber beside Aladdin in the oil lamp…(02)
Going In and the Historical context
This was my first trip to Yemen. I had prior opportunities to speak with many Yemenis and listen to their elders who had tracked its disintegration and enforced “demodernization” over the last 30 years. The death of the USSR unleashed terrible forces affecting all nations, most notably Yemen and “the Greater Middle East” target of the combined West. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Great Reset lacks a single novel idea; the misery and impoverishment of enemy targets has been a business model for hegemonists since at least Babylon and Sumer. It is easier to control and rule the demolished and abjectly hungry and weakened. More recently since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a reckless Hyperpower rampaged to lower all into destitution and subservience. Yemen, as with Africa and Haiti earlier, provides a preview of what awaits the currently targeted western and developed world.
Traveling to Yemen was a trip into the pages of Conan-Doyles’ “The Lost World.” In tempo and sensibilities, it remains a primordial land of simple living, albeit its folk are richly complex in an understated and gritty way. They know the score and their enemies in this world, are accepting of current circumstances and stay steadfast with their lot. Like the Chinese and Italians over the eons, they were once a superpower and saw many cycles of History. Yeminis tell that in the Qur’an, the most powerful civilization in human history is said to be from their land, the gigantic ‘Aad people. (03) They arose soon after the Flood and interacted with Babylon. After its unrelenting and unrepentant evil the ‘Aad were buried under a sea of desert which today forms a good portion of the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter. (04)
Although sub-Saharan African and having lived most of my life in the West, I married into this rich culture storing several millennia’s worth of memories. Yemenis today are resilient to an extraordinary degree. In similar conditions of privation many other peoples turn inwards in grief toward the self-destruction of drugs and distraction, but Yemenis just carry on! It is astounding, these varying cultural responses to existential spiritual and physical warfare. I saw it occasionally with others from war-torn Africa, but not on this scale so far and with such healthy élan and fortitude. It is plain to see, as with their spiritual brethren in Damascus, why they will outlast their tormenters. “Assad Must Go” anyone? A generation from now, they will still howl at the moon. In our strange End Times it is plain the flags of honor among Arabs are planted in Shaam (ancient term for Greater Syria, which includes Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and even northern Saudi Arabia down to Tabuk) and Al Yaman (the real way Yemen is pronounced locally and in Arab lands).
Our family traveled by car, plane and minibus to the southeastern region of Hadhramaut, the largest Yemeni province. Throughout the external war imposed since 2015, Hadhramaut remained unaffected by direct war. An elder local commented cynically: even the early “battles” to oust Al Qaeda by the Emiratis was effected without a fired shot. They mysteriously showed up uninvited one day (trumpeted by as usual by Narrative-pushing western MSM) and slinked out as silently soon thereafter. What shady deals were arranged between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and its mercurial frenemy the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in sheesha- and latte-filled backrooms eavesdropped over by their mutual Hegemon patron??
The Romans called this glorious land “Felix Arabia,” to distinguish it from the rest of the barren Arabian peninsula. (05) It has served as source of various spices, especially cinnamon from antiquity, and the transit of spices from India. Yemen and Ethiopia were especially prized for their coffee, (06) and its cultivation and export which continues from its highland farms to this day. (07) In Mukalla, it is drunk often bitter (unsweetened and without milk) with small cakes or cookies.
Much of the rest of the Arabian Peninsula is covered by a sea of inhospitable sand — the graveyard of former Empires now long forgotten, according to various Scriptures and local legends destroyed for Hubris and other excesses. Innocent travelers now visit to see relatives or to attend various Sufi seminaries in the Yemeni highlands. I spoke with an Indonesian caravan of the latter on the plane to the northern town of Seiyun, the town with closest functioning airport of Al Mukalla. They were enroute to one of the Tarim schools. (08) Foreign mercenaries and soldiers of fortune find Yemen as hospitable and enjoyable as Afghanistan or the Ukrainian killing fields under the tender mercies of the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO). They have largely run from it, including tens of thousands of Sudanese conscripts who had earlier pledged “to fight to the last Saudi Riyal,” along with Moroccans, Emiratis, Qataris, Columbians and other mercenaries. (09) A bitter Saudi acquaintance once complained that Yemenis, “only a half-meter tall, were devilishly unconquerable foes!” It pays to have passing knowledge of History and what transpires to invaders of Yemeni mountains and highlands. It may be easier to foray into Afghanistan or Russia!
I enjoyed a pleasant chat with a Malaysian teen student and his father who were on vacation in Al Mukalla. When I mentioned to them that the world-famous Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, their former and longest-serving Prime Minister, was of Yemeni extraction, the father knew it and clarified it was on the maternal side. (10) As many in Malaysia, Mohamad is of mixed-Malay heritage. This father came to enroll his son at one of the Tarim Sufi schools, also located in their ancestral lands near Seiyun. The son, of the highly connected internet generation, was bored out of his mind at the school. But it was only his first few months; I enjoined patience and to enjoy the simpler life, which he may appreciate later. The father noted Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had visited Tarim too and built there a bridge of friendship, with Chinese members among his delegation. Admiral Zheng He never visited that far inland, about 350 km from the coast, or even in Al Mukalla, but his voyages made attempts to land in Aden, opting instead for the more stable Jeddah. (11) Even 600 years ago, Yemen bubbled in chronic political turmoil and the Chinese tried to circumvent severing of their Silk Roads by the Mongols, the rampaging barbarians of their time. The difference then was the Chinese attempted to develop the maritime Silk Road as a response, whereas the current emphasis is on development of the terrestrial Silk Road of high-speed rail and connections with hybrid inland water routes such as the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). (12) Zheng He’s Chinese delegation made coastal stops along the traditional route — India, then Persia, then Felix Arabia’s southern coast, then the Horn of Africa. One can anticipate as Europe further implodes and ceases to be an attractive endpoint of the Belt and Road (BRI), and the wars in Yemen end, the southern coast which includes Aden and Al Mukalla will resume being a node leading to the opening up of Africa after centuries of enforced lack of development. The history of Aden city-port and its ancient integral role in international trade is astonishing. (13)
At the beginning of the 16th century Italian Ludovico di Varthema wrote: “Aden is such mighty and powerful that I have hardly seen another city of its might during my life . . . . all big ships anchor at the port coming from India, Ethiopia or Persia”.
Aden, Yemen, in the mid-1900s was the most important city of Arabia and the 2nd most important port just after New York with a ship every 1/2 hour.
In 1838, Sultan Muhsin bin Fadl of the state of Lahej in Yemen sold Aden to the British. On 19 January 1839, the British East India Company landed Royal Marines at Aden to occupy the territory and stop attacks by pirates against British shipping to India. The port lies about equidistant from the Suez Canal, Bombay (Mumbai), and Zanzibar, which were all important former British possessions. Aden had been an entrepôt and a way-station for seamen in the ancient world. There, supplies, particularly water, were replenished. So, in the mid-nineteenth century, it became necessary to replenish coal and boiler water. Thus Aden acquired a coaling station at Steamer Point. Aden was to remain under British control until 1967.
Another Asian power, Japan, had tried to enter the Aden port on a 50-year lease term with the prior Ali Abdullah Saleh government but couldn’t manage to surmount the intractable corruption. The oligarchs of that time wanted a 50% cut of the proceeds, among other extortions. Japan moved on.
An ancient land shaped by its mesmerizing mountains, Yemen is the ancestral origin of most non-Egyptian Arabs today. (14) They are proud of being the ancestral land of the Patriarch Abraham, whose Amalek tribe left for Iraq in one of the interminable Yemeni droughts. Aden itself is supposedly named for the father of all mankind, Adam. One version of the Descent of Man has his landing from the heavens onto this part of Yemen. The southern Saudi provinces were leased from Yemen by the late King Abdul Aziz bin Al Saud, during the same infamous inter-war Sykes-Picot conspiracy of cutting up Ottoman lands and reshaping West Asia to western designs; along with Sheikh Zeyed of UAE (father of MbZ), whose clan also migrated from Yemen, this ancient land has enduring connections with all neighbors of Arabia and Africa. Much of the Horn of Africa consists of Yemeni tribes such as the Himyar, who migrated eons ago and intermarried in this melting pot of Africa, Arabia, Iran and India. Our driver to the airport was of Himyar extraction — of the Palestinian branch, via Jordan. His grandparents were driven from their home in Ramallah during the 1948 Nakba or Disaster Expulsion of natives by Israelis. The name of the Somali capital “Mogadishu” is derived from “the City of the Shah (of Persia)” in honor of its founders and the Superpower during its founding some 2,000 years ago. Yemen and Iran remain central to the memories, culture and traditions of most Arabs and East Africans.
The Hadhramaut region of Yemen is a small businessmen stronghold, among most enterprising on earth. Their traces and wanderings are found throughout not only the Muslim world, but from the South China Sea to South Africa, and in between all along the eastern rim of Africa and its numerous islands. They prefer to deal in wares and trade and all aspects of the fish industry rather than wage war, quite unlike their fierce warrior kin to the north and west, such as Ansarullah and the San’a region and capital of the former unified state. (15) Most combatants have left them alone. Their land is rich in gold and oil and fish too, being plundered nonstop, in addition to squatting grounds of Israelis on Socotra Island. Al Mukalla’s Al Rayan International Airport hosts bases of the UAE and the same Exceptionals who have 800+ others worldwide. This airport was closed to locals and converted by the Emirati and Anglos into another dirty black site and jail like Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Additionally its famous airport now serves as a transit point to strategic Socotra and helps monitor the Arabian Sea and Bab El Mandeb Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC). Could it also serve as a drone base within reach of both East African and Afghan-Pak targets? Yemen is a strategic location for many reasons, and even more so as the Hegemon is forced further back by Iranian missile reach from the Persian Gulf.
Several years ago, fishermen were forbidden to fish their seas by Emiratis; my own host and in-law was stuck home for months without ability to earn his living. Relatives, including ourselves, were sending him donations so his family could survive. It was subsequently found that, like Black Hawks quietly flying at night in Syria transporting certain VIP cargoes, the Hadhrami coast had been converted into filtration and exfiltration points for “friendly terrorists” being wheeled around at night by the Usual Suspects. The people keep quiet and wait out the current barbarians. Time is on their side. How many watchful millennia did Felix Arabia see the shifting fortunes of empires from the Ancient Egyptians, Queen of Sheba, Biblical Abyssinia, both Romes, Persians, Brits, Soviets, etc.?
Today the distrust and contempt shown to the gauleiter Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its Anglo overlords is palpable, even here in a nominally “kept and quiet province” of the UAE.. neither should last long even before the last dollar and ammo round is used up. For example, stories abound of the GCC passport-holders being treated with the same harassment as western passport holders on the numerous checkpoints of the winding mountain drive from Seiyun to Al Mukalla. So already the UAE influence is tenuous outside the large cities and lacks popular legitimacy. We had mixed passports with us which could attract unwelcome enquiry and so prudently prearranged with an older relative of my wife to meet us in Seiyun and escort us every step of the six-hour journey from the airport to Al Mukalla. We were once held up at a single checkpoint for two hours, yet this was considered a decent trip. On most stops though this uncle’s word or national ID card was sufficient to get us waved through with little scrutiny. Similar ease of travel is currently difficult in other provinces.
Today decaying infrastructure assaults the senses after generations of turbulence, war and lack of investment, kept poorer by western and GCC enmity and siege warfare, as with Gaza and its merciless Occupation. Men wear their ubiquitous foutas everywhere, a local variation of the Scots kilts and Indonesian sarongs, among similar in many other cultures. (16) This is the de rigueur outfit worn from Malaysia, ASEAN and Bangladesh all the way to East Africa. It is extremely comfortable and well suited for hot climes as well as multi-functional inside the home or at work outside the home. I bought a set, with the lighter prints of the south, distinct from the deeper reds and hues of the north. I am used to similar from my time in East Africa. In Al Mukalla and the parts of Hadhramaut I saw, men rarely wore the accompanying traditional curving dagger looped on its belt; perhaps here in a zone of security, they’re more ornamental and used for formal occasions whereas in other regions with less security they are more practical protective implements. I did see one man wear a shoulder pistol holster in Mukalla’s main outdoor souq or market. Banks typically have a security guard sitting at the door with a full AK-47 on his lap. At no time did I see them having occasion to use it. In terms of the languid atmosphere, much of Mukalla could have been plucked from a sleepy Mediterranean sea-side town.
Al Mukalla today is a contemporary urban oasis of “Quiet Chaos.” (17) Open sewage flows beside streets and homes, including the once pristine city center. Most lack the individual will or means to even whitewash houses. When barbarians rule you, it is prudent to keep your head down and not to display signs of wealth, lest you be pillaged. Streets rotted years before the wars started, with endemic corruption and pre-war siege taking a calculated toll as with Iraq 1991-2003. Auto shock absorbers and tires do not last long in the current environment of pock-marked stripped asphalt roads with speed bumps every 50 meters or so to protect citizens from reckless drivers. Most walk, use ubiquitous buzzing dirt bikes (sometimes piling on 3 or 4 on a single seat! Women usually sit “side-saddle”) or use minibuses holding 10 or so with a single door permanently ajar, with no fixed stops — you jump on and yell “stop!” when you want to get off. It costs 400 riyal, the local currency. A taxi in comparison is a luxury at 2,000 riyals or more depending on how well you haggle, the mood of the driver, time of day, and the distance to the destination. Forget about running meters, or even taxi signs. Kids run and many adults walk filthy streets barefoot. There is an interesting belief among all classes here that walking barefoot promotes good health; there is actually truth to this and is borne out with current understanding of grounding theories in the west, a necessary protection in our age of constant urban submersion in electromagnetic radiation.
Little stewardship of cities and “highways” is evident by the municipalities. Electricity runs on-and-off in two- or four-hour cycles for years, forcing most to buy one or two 200-V backup batteries to tide through the blackouts. Hotels and the affluent all have powerful generators at this point. The nickname of the governor is “Mr. 2-Hours” for his merciless blackouts regimen. He was imported by the Saudis and used to work as a gas station attendant in Saudi Arabia! And this in a region with oil and without war, clearly being privatized by multinationals from the usual suspects. Ansarullah recently droned or missiled the Rayan airport Emirati base to remind them to resume the established profit-sharing arrangements between both parts of Yemen; this was promptly resumed. Yet local Hadhramis continue to see little value with among highest petrol prices in the Arab world– about $1.33 USD per Liter which corresponds to $5.1 USD per gallon! It is a weird hybrid existence which is slowly grinding modern lifestyles to a halt.
We considered staying at a hotel to not burden our relatives, but that would be considered disrespectful. So we stayed with my sister-in-law’s family. They vacated their master bedroom for us, with the single air conditioner in the house. Mukalla is cool now and this is fortunately not needed much. My poor host gets by on $30-50 per day hauling fish on his own 3-man diesel-powered small fishing vessel. It is more the size of an oversized kayak or small canoe, but enough to support his 4 kids, mother-in-law and her orphaned teen daughter, and two crew men. We showered in his home by pail and using scoops of water, squatted on holes in the ground in the old way, and swatted futilely at flyblown rooms and food. City water was piped in strictly for cleaning and showering; it worked every other day, with a roof storage container saving for the off-days. He had water trucks come periodically to transport drinking and cooking water as needed. His neighborhood is actually a shanty town on the outskirts of the poor section of Mukalla, not even marked on Google. It is a true slum to rival any favela and make western inner cities appear an upscale overindulgence. Nevertheless even minibuses can squeeze through its unmarked rock-dirt paths, with a convenience store a stone’s throw away. It works for them.
There is a calm, societal security and trust between folks. Locals eat, joke with each other and are at ease living their lives day by day. Catherine Austin Fitts has her useful “Popsicle Index” rating scale for the safety of neighborhoods. She tracked Philadelphia, PA, USA and other spots in which you could send a child to get a popsicle ice cream at night without fear during her childhood (in the 1950-60s) and the impossibility by the 1980s. I saw with my own eyes a 12- and then a 14-year-old Mukalla girl sent for errands to the convenience store in the dark of 8 or 9pm without the slightest fear. There were no street lights on their hill. Tribes and tradition maintain the peace, despite political corruption and neglect of a city of nearly half a million. On the other hand, locals tell stories of other provinces with combatants and shifting war experiencing incidences of rape and the lack of basic security.
Teens and young adults have their idée fixe as elsewhere. The 2022 Qatari World Cup craze gripped them too. They huddle around small TVs and monitors on every other block, sipping their teas or chewing their khat. A patient once gifted me a vuvuzela trumpet obtained at the 2010 South African spectacle; it still provides a mighty blast. These are spectacles for the young now, given shameful corruption evident to older folks, such as what was done to Russian Olympians and other sports teams. Older Mukallans are appalled at the mind-blowing waste of the Qataris – $200+ Billion on a single month’s extravaganza, a small fraction of which can feed all the world’s hungry. Undoubtedly, this now serves a key purpose of giving these spectacles to the desired wealthy targets: bilk $200 billion from some, or have Trump sign contracts of $400 billion in arms from others; soon we’re talking of real amounts! How sad, when most of their Arab, Iranian, or African neighbors scrape by pitifully each day, they waste in an ungodly fashion. They do not realize they lose prestige even quicker — the opposite of the intended western liberal mirage. Enlightened and cosmopolitan Arabs never fail to be astonished at the various desert Bedouins, who themselves foretell their own fate: “My father rode a camel, I shall ride a pick-up and my son will drive a Cadillac; however my grandson will drive a donkey.” (18) I am not sure whether the current frenzy of the GCC royals to sign deals with China is sincere agony at escaping the same fate of a Europe being eaten alive by the USA, or to not be left behind Iran and other rivals which sign similar deals with Russia and China. Regardless, their absence of long-term vision and planning, and inferiority complex vis-à-vis the combined west (which includes seeing other Asians as inferior) is not in doubt. At best, the desert Bedouins will remain fair-weather friends, even amongst themselves.
On the second day, I gave up on regular internet. Most appear to download at bitrate per minute (remember America Online and early internet days in developed countries?) making streaming impossible. That was until much later I found the complementary 3G wifi internet at the Hotel Royal Al Mukalla, among the top hotels in the city. I just had to purchase a beverage or sweet at their lobby café. A typical single room rate is 35,000 riyal per night (~ $30 USD), a small fortune for most locals. Much of sparse clientele appeared Omani, Malaysian or affluent business visitors. I loitered an extra hour to bulk download the converted audio of Mercouris and Smoothie YouTube videos; this would take care of most key daily updates from the Ukraine and global Anglosphere shenanigans-du-jour. I also opened a dozen browser tabs of RT stories, weekly articles, Amarynth’s site, Mr P’s pearls of the day, etc. for later off net reading. The delicious irony was not lost on me — I had ended up like those hapless Ukies huddling in the Kherson train station over a single net node, electricity and for group warmth! Well, at least I didn’t need the warmth in the balmy 25 ⁰C of Al Mukalla.
On the third day I discovered my secret fuel – the T/C Coffee café, a sheesha dive bar selling a Spanish concoction called a cortado — a small shot of double espresso cut with a tempering equal measure of milk. (19) Women arrived in droves to troop upstairs for their sheesha social smokes and men huddled downstairs nursing their coffees and staring into their phones. Every doc and daily warrior needs something; one cortado gets me through an entire half-day. No need to keep sucking on endless coffees, which risks visiting soul-crushing public restrooms best avoided. These restrooms remind of that unforgettable scene from Trainspotting, where dropping belongings risks meeting drifting Ukie-NATOstan Black Sea mines and other execrable hazards! (20)
Revised Impressions and Historical changes
Observing this southern region of Yemen filled me at times with immense sadness. It was also a preview of what the satanists have planned for their western Great Reset. The trappings of modern life were largely stripped from Mukallans, insidiously over the last generation. This is something best appreciated by the outsider who was not slow boiled at the target locale, or perceptive older folks who remember the more dignified standards of living before the 1990s.
Al Mukalla used to be considered a jewel of Hadhramaut and the Arabian Sea, and a minor rival to Aden. It is an open-air sewer now… no trash removed in a decade, or rather there is too much for the beleaguered public cleaners at work. There is a desultory motion to both citizens and cleaners at their job; their task is like picking grains of sand from a beach the breadth of the horizon. Lack of civic responsibility for cleanliness has crept in with most using streets as trash receptacles. There is the ineluctable contempt a people can silently express for a satanic elite. The same smells of Paris or San Francisco permeate the air. Entire cities of the West or those which ape the West going to the shits! The same malignancy working to cull the West is at work here too, but cultural bonds of several millennia maintains humanity above the animal level for now. Faith prevents despair and resort to suicide. Strong communal bonds compensate. Instead of succumbing to despair, they lowered expectations and focus on getting the next meal, educating their children and cleanliness inside their homes and inner worlds. The karma awaiting those who willfully degrade entire societies to this!
The rough process or template of leveling a people can be summarized in the following four steps:
(Step 1) Lowering civic pride and increasing distrust in political “leaders”
The port city of Al Mukalla used to be graceful and attractive, with functional and clean public infrastructure, cooperative culture and civic pride. (21) Folks used to leave their daily home trash hung up on their doors at night — by time of dawn prayers, it would be gone. Little littering was visible on the streets. Neat houses were whitewashed and kept trim as on Greek islands and other sunny Mediterranean locales. One idyllic Mukallan scene after another delighted the eye.
Slowly over the last generation – and sped up with the start of the 2015 war and subsequent invasion and aggression of the UAE into this region, new comprador elites came to power without a sense of stewardship. They diverted public funds and abandoned their duties. If 30 years ago there was general civic pride and observance of decorum, and cars had license plates, and were segregated by personal or commercial use, now every other car lacks a license plate. Most cars are in shocking physical disrepair. One jousts with reckless three-wheeled tok-tok vehicles and dirt bikes on narrow broken lanes, originally one-way but which have become de-facto two-way. Everyone forces the shortest route to their destination without regard for right-of-way or rules. Most tok-toks are powered by the ubiquitous dirt bikes, which also form the front single wheel, a clever local adaptation. One sees the most placid and equanimous individuals lean out of their windows and curse lustily at transgressors; these are often reckless motorbikes or minibuses which stop on a dime to discharge passengers without regard to holding up traffic behind them. Road rage here doesn’t lead to violence but has become an acceptable outlet of pent-up frustrations and indignities of modern life. Slowly folks have come to understand they are ruled by plundering crooks and are on their own. Imagine a Europe still led by Ursula von der Lügen ten years from now, using the same current “management style and practices” … A rotting external milieu is increasingly ignored as each focuses on his home and family and that which is necessary to earn a livable income without becoming a criminal.
(Step 2) Siege warfare
There is evidence of several generations work of a softening up period of sanctions. Zionists have never forgotten nor forgiven the potential of Yemen as expressed once in that tristate fable known as the United Arab States! (22) It is no coincidence that after the Palestinians, the most unrelenting economic, political and diplomatic warfare was waged against Syrians, Egyptians and Yemenis since prior to the establishment of Israel. North Yemenis who formed one leg of the tristate United Arab States continue the tradition as expressed by the resistance of Ansarullah.
And the devils control the modern cities. It is no coincidence over the last three centuries most mankind has been moved through hook or crook to the cities. Self-sufficient rural folks have a dignity, sense of honor and obstinacy inimical to control freaks. They often do not tolerate indignities captive city-slickers do, especially if they are mobile nomads and herdsman. And thus as with enforced migration to cities through rural disinvestment and rise of Big Agriculture’s industrial farming, a similar move has taken place to erect borders, enforce passport and visa regimes. The train tracks of our Prison Planet can be best seen in developing countries such as Yemen. In the West, insidious longer-term changes were rolled out which escaped the attention spans of the distracted majority.
In Al Mukalla today, there are no operative street signals. If lucky, at the busiest and most dangerous intersections, a lone traffic cop stands taking turns waving one part onwards and halting the others. Most ignore him and take precedence by force where they can. I was told one fat older traffic cop was feared, and his intersection kept in decent order. Was it his temper? I think rather the love and regard the people had for an older sympathetic cop. In tribal lands, this consideration (and the brutal tyrant) takes one farther. Enforced deconstruction of modernity has returned to preeminence the traditional authority of the tribes.
To leave and enter through the Pearly Gates of Paradise may be easier than transiting Yemeni borders and their immigration police. Logjam is rampant. Simple stamping of an exit stamp takes patience and immense wasting of time. Graft-taking has become institutionalized and an essential expected lubricant. Much of this difficulty is of recent origin, imported by Emirati diktat, to make foreign travelers hate traveling here and further disenfranchise and isolate Yemenis.
The calculation from their enemy desert Bedouin neighbors is simple. Hadhramautis are among their top business competitors. They are attractive to and easily conversant with most inhabitants of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea basins and further afield. Much of Emiratis are themselves of recent Yemeni origin. They know the pressure points to apply to make them suffer the most. They worked hard to make southern Yemenis uncompetitive. Like the merciless way the US eats Europe, so the UAE works over southern Yemen — defunding its infrastructure, closing its main airport, creating labyrinthine illogical bureaucracies, devaluing the currency, doubling taxes, even at times forbidding its fishermen to fish its rich seas. Up to the 1990s, a single Yemeni dinar used to be convertible to $3.50 USD. Today, it has so depreciated that $1 USD fetches more than 1,100 Yemeni riyals. They are not quite at Weimar level of inflation yet, carrying wheelbarrows to trundle home the salary, but at money exchanges they give you the riyals wrapped in elastic bands and with a plastic bag for ease of carrying. Division from north Yemen is being entrenched by the GCC with the return of the old flag of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen visible on most governmental buildings; even a rare sighting of a VIP convoy carried both flags of Yemen on his police SUV escort! (23)
We had to make an itinerary change on the return flight. Our return trip was originally via Aden, which I longed to see, but it required transit through another two provinces, each with its own haphazard checkpoint challenges. Additionally there were rumours of new fighting near Aden… This process of changing tickets back to the safer Seiyun required quite an adventure and penalties payment due solely in USD (!) Many southern Yemenis do not trust their own currency, currently the plaything of the GCC and Anglo-Zionist banksters.
(Step 3) Live for today, hour by hour
Mukalla is a preview of what happens to a subjugated people with criminal overlords beholden to foreign enemies, as currently happening to Europe. In addition to the collapsing infrastructure, the electric and internet grids experience endemic blackouts. There is scanty internet and digital connectivity, if lucky available with decent signal a few hours after dawn and other nonpeak times. Mukallans appear to thrive most in the evenings and nights, many adopting a nocturnal existence, when they are active due to avoidance of daytime heat in the lack of air conditioning. 4G and organized Internet is not evident here. Al-Mahra province currently has better and faster internet than Mukalla or Hadhramaut. This is quite astonishing if factor in the typical impoverished Bedouins which populate Al-Mahra and the lack of significant infrastructure. Aden also boasts at least 4G internet speeds, but these are drawn from neighboring undersea cables via Djibouti, and as the far more populated chief commercial port of Yemen is more understandable. One can buy portable modems, but it is too expensive for most, requiring monthly subscriptions. The poorer neighborhood we stayed in was used to purchasing daily subscription connections for 100 riyals, or 200 for two days, or 300 for three days. You buy them at convenience stores (“Beqaalas”) and draw weak signal from private residential hotspots. You are limited to their short reach, so it will not work even two blocks away.
Having to budget which dailies to download on a generic online YT Downloader (simultaneously converting to audio mp3 to save bandwidth) — such as Mercouris and others, I gave up in our neighborhood after the first day. This was not a bad thing, prompting richer cultural and societal interactions, also evident throughout Mukalla in contrast to other cities exhibiting soulless atomization brought on by global digital addictions. (24) I actually enjoyed the trip back in time to pre-internet age.. proof I was not as addicted as thought.
Tales of the local COVID-19 experience
The Pandemic Op, critical to halting globalization, severing supply lines, and instituting the permanent health emergency of the crazed Technocrats, rolled over Yemen like a feeble blizzard. It is not easy to seed a virus in a region in which travel is so difficult, which has daily temperatures reaching 30-40 ⁰C for most of the year, and in which its denizens have healthy boosted immune systems after years of unhygienic living conditions. The health official in Mukalla who strongly pushed the lockdowns, masking and social distancing was noted to suddenly die in a sinkhole which opened in the street and swallowed him and his car whole. This was taken to be a good sign. He settled the issue for the majority.
As in Africa and Belarus, covid was quickly ignored and shelved by the overwhelming majority, with insignificant sequelae. Masjids reopened after a hesitant three days’ crisis, with rows packed shoulder-to-shoulder as always, disregarding social distancing. Quarantining may make sense in the top targeted developed locations, but the immiserated poor do not have time for wasteful Fear Porn. Life is difficult enough without hyperventilating over a disease with less than 1% mortality.
A sumptuous diet
Being embargoed and having most external supply lines cut is not always a bad thing. As Russians adapted nicely to European sanctions from 2014 onwards by refiring their native agriculture, regaining self-sufficiency and import-substituting various technologies from friendly nations, so Yemenis returned to their roots. Their fish is extraordinarily delicious! Irregular and near constant blackouts make maintenance of refrigeration for many inconceivable, so the man of the house fetches the daily fresh catch and needs. Our host left several times right after the dawn prayer, to get fresh goat liver one day and to the fish market another. Fish is straight from the open Arabian Sea, without the sick farmed products full of hormones and antibiotics seen in most western and non-western markets nowadays. The families I saw made fresh daily bread in their own houses, on a traditional kiln oven, fired using medium-sized natural gas cannisters affordable and transportable to even the poorest homes. There was smaller version of this oven in our host’s house. (25) Mashed beans (“fuull”) or chickpeas (“’Addas”) are staples eaten for breakfast or dinner, the equivalent of potatoes in other cultures, prepared countless ways, often with enough spices to bring on a brisk sweat! Take it with caution, and have at hand fire dousers such as milk, water, plain rice or the tasty bread.
Often an external enemy realizes too late that the process of attacking the economy and external supply chain of a nation results in unanticipated benefits to the same target. The targeted nation or people reacquire the self-sufficiency, healthy and natural habits of their pre-modern ancestors, leading to further steps toward sovereignty, erasure of shameful reliance on and contempt for the foolish external enemy. As in Russia and most of the Global South, the truant class needing rehabilitation and resumption of the old dignified ways are the compradore elites who are the last to cling to the emotional and physical umbilical connections with the external enemy.
(Step 4) Flood in Khat, the numbing vice.(26)
Each people have a particular weakness, deftly exploited by local oligarchs and outsiders seeking to weaken them. For Yemenis, cheeks bulging like they carry enough chewing tobacco for three men, it is Khat. You’ve seen it in videos of Ansurallah pocket-warriors sucking on it. It is unavoidable and a sad reality throughout Yemen and the Horn of Africa. It may keep one going, but how much listlessness and dissolution it promotes! Men squander their little income, are no longer as useful in bed (according to persistent complaints from all corners), and it dulls the most. It appears to function like tobacco: it stimulates or relaxes the same person depending on need, intent and time taken. It helped our long-distance driver from Seiyun to Mukalla focus on the dangerous mountain roads. We saw several accidents; one lorry apparently lost its brakes or way in the dark and planted itself into the mountain side. That is still preferable to plunging over the cliffs. A Somali expat told an interesting story that among first “crops” the US military imported on endless small planes into the early 1990s Somalia was Khat grown expressly for them in Kenya. The American Raj aped its British antecedent on similar opium runs into China… And 30 years later Somalia remains mired in dependency. Somehow Khat doesn’t affect Yemenis the same.
Hadhramis: a resilient People, redirecting energies inward
So I’ve seen one endpoint of “you’ll have nothing and be happy..” ! Many of their men 15 to ripe old age are outside the country working as expats in the GCC and in East Africa and further afield, sending back home what they can of their earnings. They really are an enterprising lot, usually shopkeepers, with a Midas touch wherever they go. The huge Bin Laden clan is from the northern parts of Hadhramaut, in the same Wadi Do’ani of the famous honey farms, and prior to the current Saudi King, built much of the heavy construction projects in the Saudi kingdom. Black sheep Osama grabbed the headlines — and according to all accounts died between September and December 2001 in a US-Pakistani hospital due to chronic kidney failure, a loyal Anglo-Zionist retainer to the end, Hollywood sunset romances of Navy Seals notwithstanding. Most of his clan are more worldly-minded. A niece was a stripper, some brothers and relatives were close business chums and Carlyle Group affiliates of the Bush crime family and required extraordinary flights out of the US in September 2001 when the airspace was closed to everyone else. Did I mention Yemenis are complicated? Some of the best and the worst of humanity are clearly visible in their astonishing ranks.
How much of the “Yemeni hunger and starvation” periodically trumpeted in western MSM is real? There was little evidence of it in Hadhramaut, and I landed on the poorest slum of a beleaguered city. It is against their ethic to let a neighbor go hungry so there is sharing of what little exists. A wedding or funeral or hospitalization of any individual is occasion for extended family to pool resources and to support them. Other regions have kinship units and communal support systems as robust. During the heyday of the war on northern provinces, and before Ansarullah developed “dronification” and missile deterrence, there were undoubtedly moments supply chains were broken and belts were tightened. Even then the northern provinces are the main agricultural lands of Felix Arabia. They have enough surplus to continue selling their produce today in Mukalla’s markets. Most of the fruit and vegetable in southern Yemen comes from the more fertile and agricultural north Yemen.
Key shortages appear to be not with foodstuff but foreign imported goods, especially medications, machine parts and non-local technologies. People compensate with ingenuity and local invention. They returned to the still effective traditional herbal and Prophetic medicine without the adverse drug effects seen in toxic western pharmaceuticals. Auto parts are currently not an issue; the dominant Nissan, Isuzu and other Japanese models are easily available. A knowledgeable Yemeni elder told me several years ago much of the imagery of starving Yemenis was propaganda to extort the hapless Saudis and Emiratis. Trump wasn’t the only one milking them! (27) Yet one group extorts the GCC milch-camels more than all others combined: the Great Western Wurlitzer has been seen to pick key moments to turn on the atrocity porn – such as prior to a Trump or vice-roy visit… Yemenis do not control this western MSM. The use of their plight, in addition to its cynical creation by westerners, serves as an electric cattle prod to steer their media-conscious GCC proxies via the feared tempo-adjustable media dial.
Al-Mahra is the southeastern-most Yemeni province. It has the only non-Saudi land border, with neighboring sphinx Oman. Hadhramaut is the very next adjoining province. Al-Mahra is site of intense geopolitics, with Saudis seeking to block arms and critical supplies’ smuggling routes via Oman (and further afield from Hezbullah, Iran and other partisans) as well as to themselves illegally route oil pipes from their Eastern Province to the Arabian Sea and thus escape the Hormuz bottleneck under Iranian control. (28) Saudis have engaged in intense seduction of Mahris, giving them Saudi passports and stipends. They have delirious designs to steal more Yemeni provinces. At the same time, Saudis block to this day their own citizens from traveling to Yemen. The Yemen war is very unpopular among Hijaazis (the western Saudi provinces, which include Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah) and southern Saudi provinces such as Najran and Gizaan which have traditionally been Yemeni regions. Many GCC citizens wishing to enter Yemen to visit relatives or for business enter discretely via Oman, on car or bus.
What a world. This level of criminality and chaos being unleashed everywhere is unsustainable. The rich of “the Golden Billion” in this era have comparative palaces or fancy homes, slim figures if they care to eat right, and scant inner happiness or contentedness and high suicide rates. The poor of the Global South live in filthy hovels surrounded by raw sewage, kids run around on rocks and dirt streets shoeless (no bloated bellies seen though here in Mukalla), many men have tea bellies, but all sleep like babies and love each other and are grateful for each day! This trip did wonders reaffirming my enduring optimism that the good will outlast the evil, no matter how they puff themselves up through PsyOps and misleading Narratives. Truly the meek shall inherit.
Why the abominable cruelty by the combined West?
Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar asks the same question of the same party. (29) He leaves the question open. Several Islamic Eschatologists offered more plausible theories than mere geo-economic interest. Surprisingly both I heard were Yemenis over the last three decades. And both highlighted the all-consuming imperative to protect the Antichrist citadel of Jerusalem (the rising Unholy Israel). Most major geopolitical impulses of the last century and half, since at least the 1892 Basel inauguration of the Zionist movement, can be said to revolve around creating, bolstering and making preeminent this Israel, even at the total catastrophic cost to the West. The Age of Monarchies was brought to a brutal end in WW1, with particular focus on the Ottomans and Russians, protectors of Muslims and Christians of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, respectively. The same actors who currently sacrifice the Ukraine without any regard for human life will countenance the consumption of Europe and the rest of the combined West. Supranational cabals have staked all on this project. And if the processes simultaneously help further depopulation agendas as spelled out in the Georgia Guidestones and other manifestos, all the better from their wretched and ambitious perspective.
The first Yemeni scholar said Afghanistan has been attacked relentlessly since it sits at a vital crossroads, involving Pashtuns but also Iranians and Pakistani Pashtun (most Pashtun live in Pakistan). This is the region known as Khorasan which will provide the army sweeping the Antichrist forces into the Mediterranean Sea. Try and find the actual borders of mythical Khorasan now! There exist countless conflicting maps over the millennia. Even the western three letter agencies entered the fracas, hoping to preemptively discredit, by naming an ISIS-splinter by Khorasan. I heard of this first Yemeni being drone-killed in Al Mahra province by Obama, and he was a dual US citizen to boot.
The second Yemeni said Israelis believe the Yemenis will be the force achieving their final defeat. Who knows what the maniacally paranoid really believe? However, this seems unlikely to superficial scrutiny, at least as regards the southern easy-going Yemenis. The Syrians, bolstered by regional allies, are capable enough on their own, at least once Russia openly enters the imposed spiritual war on all “Abrahamic faiths,” and all traditional civilizations worldwide too. Every step by the combined West, as recently highlighted by the ugly words of the Pope and by attacking the Orthodox church in the Ukraine, by doubling-down and increasing their “Hatred Dial” further, makes this reality stark to even usually cool Russians. (30) The Northern Ansarullah may play a role in the liberation of their former provinces in the southern KSA, but are ill-suited to fight outside their mountains and so far north in Palestine. The western imperative is to milk the GCC through arms, create divide on the Arabian Peninsula and prevent their rise through all-consuming Yemen war, as well as steal-squat on the vital SLOCs of Socotra, Mukalla and Aden which overlook the Bab El Mandeb. Another western consideration in fueling this genocide in Yemen is the global Green Agenda, of denying critical energy to all nations; this war and its various players deny outlet of the Persian Gulf’s Saudi-Emirati petroleum to the Arabian Sea via south Yemen, thus escaping the Hormuz bottleneck. (31) All things considered, the wrenching saga in Yemen promises to fester so long as the Hegemon has lifeblood. Its fate is now interlocked with the oil industry, external control of the GCC countries, interdicting the Red Sea SLOCs and maritime silk road routes between China and Europe, and intrinsically preventing the rise of the potentially powerful entrepreneurial Yemeni people who can serve as a normal and widely-accepted vanguard of the Arab resistance alongside Damascus and Beirut.
(01) Honey of the Wadi Do’ani
(02) Hadhramis aslumber inside the oil lamp
(03) The gigantic ‘Aad people
(04) The Empty Quarter at the intersection of KSA, Oman, and Al Yaman
(05) Mix of maps of Felix Arabia
(06) Yemeni coffee #1
(07) Yemeni coffee #2
(08) Sufi schools of Tarim Hadhramaut
(09) Sudanese conscripts and mercenaries flee
(10) Dr. Mahathir Mohamad letter to the GCC
(11) Admiral Zheng He interacts with Yemen
(12) the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
(13) Aden City-port: a perspective
(14) Yemen: an ancient haunted mountainous land
(15) The San’a region and Haraz mountains fortresses
(16) The Yemeni fouta men’s dress
(17) Contemporary Mukalla
(18) Sayings of the desert Bedouin
(19) The T/C Cafe
(20) The Worst Toilet in Scotland
(21) Historical modern Mukalla
(22) The tristate fable: United Arab States
(23) The old flag of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen
(24) Societal atomization of global digital addictions
(25) Making Yemeni bread
(26) Khat, the numbing vice
(27) Trump milks merrily
(28) Saudi-UAE-Yemeni Pipelines projects
(29) Why the cruelty by the combined West?
(30) Medvedev responds to attack against Faith
(31) Escaping the Hormuz bottleneck
Yemen and Saudi ArabiaMarch 12, 2023
Thank you, Amarynth, for hosting this report.
Thank you, AHH, for a truly stupendous report, appreciate very much your attention to detail, and your compassionate touch.
Well, that was wise and wonderful. The descriptive power of the author could rival Lin Dinh, and with a geopolitical acuity that is top tier. I increasingly understand the long-standing nature of the oppressions we tend to think are recent, and this superb essay, with insights poured out as throwaway… Read more »
I loved this! I loved the way that AHH got us to walk in his footsteps, both historically, as well as currently. I loved it so much that I’m sending it to some fraternal sites. Stick around AHH, we will make you famous lol.
Thank you Amarynth and of course AHH… this piece is an absolute treasure that I will file away and revisit.
AHH, if you have previously missed your vocation, then you most certainly have found it now. I look forward to more articles… BRAVO!!!
Many thanks AHH for your most interesting travelogue.
From what I could gather, Hadhramaut is a region in South Arabia, comprising eastern Yemen, parts of western Oman and southern Saudi Arabia –
Some old photos and videos –
thank you, ahh, i hope this is the beginning of a series. you have a gift for bringing yemen to life, i believe a calling, bless you for quenching our thirst for news from the heart of yemen. taxi, when she finishes her novel & returns to her site does… Read more »
Many thanks to you AHH, the article was magnificent. Probably not alone when saying that it [the article] will be reread many times for the packed insights ( a lot ). Greatly improved my understanding of Yemen – and the relationship to the GCC.
Patrice at the Greanville Post did a wonderful job, and asked me to transmit to the author his deepest gratitude for this absorbing portrait of Yemen, supported by a rich lode of political insight.
Trump’s first state visit as the new President of the country that has been at war for my entire life (68 years), and by definition is a criminal terrorist state itself, was to Saudi Arabia. Not only does the U$A habitually arm terrorists and routinely create global mayhem, but this… Read more »
Thanks to all for encouraging comments. And especially to Col for inspiring me to write it in the first place. Yes Grieved, part of it was written during slow times while in Mukalla as journal entries which I then arranged and expanded once I returned. I knew I would have… Read more »
I remember as a kid, in the early 50’s, growing up in Dar es Salaam, watching the Arab dhows sail into the harbour, about one or two a week. My mom would occasionally buy various wares and clothing and dried fish from what we called “Arab traders”. It just occurred… Read more »
Those Arab dhows sailing into Dar es Salaam harbour were probably from Oman. Zanzibar, which is a semi-autonomous archipelago in Tanzania, was an overseas holdings of Oman until the sixties.
I echo these sentiments. Thanks Amarynth and AHH. Absolutely fascinating – as both the human side of AHH’s movements and interactions with other Yemenies and family as well as informative from the historical perspective. It really put Yemen’s history in perspective for me. Thanks again.