June 8, 2010, - 7:59 pm

What Were These Western “Students” Doing in Yemen?

By Debbie Schlussel

Anytime you hear about Western “students” in Yemen, you know they’re not exactly there to learn how to make shawarmeh or become familiar with the local culture. Or to learn Arabic, which you can learn anywhere, including in the U.S. and Israel. You don’t need to travel to Al-Awlaki-land to gain Arabic language skills. And there’s nothing special or important about the Yemeni dialect, unless the guy teaching you has the first name, “Anwar,” and was born in New Mexico.


Beware of American “Arabic Students” in Yemen

First, there was this story from Reuters, yesterday.  You just knew these people weren’t just “students,” unless what they were, uh, “studying” is advanced explosive and underwear rigging techniques.  That includes, by the way, an Australian woman, probably specifically recruited to escape notice and profiling efforts.

Yemeni authorities have detained several US and French students of Arabic on security grounds, a government official said yesterday, shortly after an Australian woman was reported to be held for links to militancy.

The official said the Westerners had been detained in Sanaa at the behest of their own governments, but declined to give details of their arrests.

Then, just an hour ago, this story broke, telling us more of what we already knew (even if some stupid liberal pot-smokers want to believe these “students” are in Yemen to enjoy the “exoticism” of Yemeni destitution and extremism). Note that the State Dept. says that no U.S. citizens were arrested on terror charges in Yemen, recently. Really? Then, who are the U.S. “students of Arabic”

The State Department said on Tuesday three U.S. citizens are in Yemeni custody on terrorism-related charges but none was arrested recently.

The Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper on Monday reported that Yemen has detained around 50 foreigners accused of links to al Qaeda after stepping up monitoring of Arabic language schools.

Responding to questions triggered by the report, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Monday said there were 12 U.S. citizens in custody in Yemen but gave no details on why they were detained.

On Tuesday, Crowley said that he did not know of any recent arrests of U.S. citizens in Yemen. He also said that the number of Americans in custody in the impoverished Arab nation varies and can be as high as about 20 at any given time.

“We are not aware of any new arrests on terrorism charges at this point,” Crowley said on Tuesday.

“Right now, we are only aware of three American citizens in custody in Yemen on terrorism charges,” he added, saying that the three had been arrested since the beginning of the year.

Al-Hayat said U.S., British, French and Malaysian nationals were among the foreigners detained since a failed December, 2009 attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane. The Nigerian suspect in that case had studied Arabic in the Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

Uh-huh. “Arabic students.” Just like the Arabic students who were just detained. Just like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. And Nidal Malik Hasan.

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49 Responses

Can’t wait to see their backgrounds and pictures. Too bad they’ll be in the “catch and release” system soon.

samurai on June 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Let’s ease the tension. I would like to invite You to Tunisia for a Camel ride. Yemen remains a beautiful country despite the current circumstances, to be visited for its “exoticism”.

    Anis M on July 4, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’m an American university student (young white female) and I’d like to visit Yemen (albeit in a niqab so I’ll blend in more). Why do I want to visit? Because it’s there, “dangerous”, different, extreme. Not everyone wants to just visit places where they’ll “have a nice time”. Some people like to go places to be shocked.

It’s unfair that you doubt people who feel the same way as I do. Our intentions aren’t far-fetched.

Charlotte on June 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Charlotte, dear, if I take you at your word, you are in desperate need of a serious education.

    If I do not take you at your word–meaning that I view you as a convert or likely convert to Islam–I hope you will not be with us too much longer.

    skzion on June 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

      skzion, I take it you don’t participate in the hobby of people watching. There’s nothing more educational than integrating yourself in and watching a culture that is so different from you. At least when you criticize or praise a people, your experience gives you credibility.

      Charlotte on June 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

        “People watching,” Charlotte? My impression was that this methodology had yet to be supported in scholarly circles as an effective means to acquire anything other than the most superficial knowledge. This “experience” gives precisely zero credibility, except to fellow people watchers and assorted cafe chatterers.

        What you risk doing, however, is causing trouble for your country by causing an “incident” that needs to be addressed, all for a cheap high.

        Charlotte, call me old-fashioned, but I think you should go to a serious college (if you can). Whether you do or not, you should immediately purchase The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides and read it twice before you return to college in the fall.

        skzion on June 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm

        LOL, Charlotte!

        Can you watch without your head?

        There’s nothing they want more than to sever your head from your shoulders.

        You can’t possibly survive. You’re too stooooooopid.

        As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Yes, It’s not a crime to go visit these places, the only problem is that when something happens to you, and it happens many times, the tax payers, yet these people who have to pay for everyone’s adventure, will have to pay for the traveling of all these diplomats to try to get you alive out of there. Yes, I understand that you’re young, and yes, you’re naiive, but by the time you learn what is the danger, it might be too late. So, please, take this under consideration when you travel looking for adventures, because the consequences are far more than you think.

    Tal on June 9, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Charlotte you are an idiot. Idiots like you think it’s cool to go and travel to shitty little hell holes. Problem is when you get your dumb ass in trouble you fully expect to have some diplomat, Delta Force, or other warriors to save you from torture, and beheading. People like me couldn’t care less about your feelings of entitlement to travel where ever and study b.s. where ever. If idiots like you get in trouble you bring about your own stupid problems. Rot in Yemen, or what ever third world turd you settle into.

    samurai on June 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Charlotte, are you Stupid?
    Why the hell would you want to go someplace that is hazardous for your health? Why NOT take a vacation to Somalia to visit the murdering, kidnapping Pirates and ask them if they give a sh*t about what you think or how they “feel”?
    Better yet, go there and walk the streets after Midnight, all by yourself with a skimpy outfit and see if it becomes dangerous or not. Why not join the Army so they send you to Afghanistan for a “vacation” that is NOT boring?

    Who cares? on June 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Charlotte you claim to be a young white university student that can’t wait to visit Yemen. First I don’t know if I can believe that your a young white woman. If so you’ve lost your rocker. Why would anyone want to visit a Muslim country we never heard of anyhow. We know you’re not a Christian or a Jew; that’s for sure. Get ready for them to make a white slave prositute. Or maybe you’ll be sold to an 89 year old rich Muslim for his harem.

    bobbyhead on June 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

How about this link related to Anwar? It’s amazing how “mesmerizing” Anwar was. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the content of Islam.


skzion on June 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm

“I’m an American…I want … “dangerous”, different, extreme.”

Here you go:

Jewish Marksman on June 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Best reply here!

    mk750 on June 9, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Jewish Marksman on June 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Now, THAT’S HOT!

    Charlotte could never fill those shoes… she couldn’t pass any psychological screening!

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm

charlotte, a pencil sharpener is dangerous, different and extreme, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick your finger in it and turn.

hill billy on June 9, 2010 at 12:44 am

What does it take for us to get it. Really, sometimes it feels like I’mliving in the Twilight Zone. These people are evil! No amount of education or assimulation will work.

One_Irish_Jew on June 9, 2010 at 12:56 am

Charlotte, while in the NAVY my brother was visiting one of the ‘friendlier’ muslim countries. In the street were two merchants, young boys, selling their wares. They got into a heated argument and started throwing stones at each other, till finally the grandfather of one of the boys stepped in…to make peace?…no…he pulled out a machete and started chasing after the other kid. You want excitement, something “dangerous”, different, extreme, to be shocked. No problem, there you go. Just hope we hear from you again. Word of advice: always bring a friend or two to watch your back or use as a body shield. Better yet, take Jewish Marksman’s advice.
But if you do go, remember, wipe with the left, shake with the right and always have fun while you still can! Enjoy mussie travelways…the only way to di..er…fly!

theShadow on June 9, 2010 at 12:58 am

Charlotte I agree with you. There is so much to be learnt by integrating yourself with another culture. Particularly one very different to your own. These people like skzion have probably never been out of their home state let alone the country.

Skzion, Traveling the world and seeing what is really out there (not just what Fox News tells you is out there) will give you far more credibility than can be gained by watching Bill O’Reilly or wherever it is you get your “facts”.

theShadow, So some kid got chased with a machete in a Muslim country and that’s what you base your opinion of how dangerous a place is on. Better warn my friends heading to America to avoid the general public because they’re all gun toting trigger happy crazies right. You know based on a school massacre or 10.


PS keep up your right wing shenanigans, it’s oh so entertaining.

Dan on June 9, 2010 at 1:36 am

    The problem with many Americans that they still thing that they’re sheltered and than nothing is going to happen to them, regardless of where they are. And you probably think that you’re loved in these countries. YOU’RE NOT. And let me tell you another thing: It’s not because of Israel, it’s because of you. And need I remind you 9/11? It happened in America. A man chasing a kid in the street IS THE CULTURE, it’s not just something that happens. This is their culture, and they’re afraid that this culture will be taken away from them by civilization. For you information, they still use the same methods of killing a woman when they believe she was unfaithfull, no second chance. This is who they are, now tell me that you want to see this culture?

    Tal on June 9, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Dan the leftist sez:

    “Charlotte I agree with you. There is so much to be learnt by integrating yourself with another culture. Particularly one very different to your own. These people like skzion have probably never been out of their home state let alone the country.”

    Dan sweetie, I’ve been to Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Paris, Amsterdam, and so on. Of course, I’ve been around the US as well. Not only that, I’m far better educated than you, which is evident from your banality suggesting that hanging out in a niqab in any way “integrates yourself” into another culture. Only uneducated dolts believe that foreign cultures are so easily penetrated–especially cultures as foreign as Islamic ones.

    Of course, Dan is evidently a Brit, and the British educational system has been a shambles for decades now. The cafe chatterers there have always thought they understood foreigners very well. That they do not do so is shown by the great advance of dhimmitude there.

    skzion on June 9, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Oh, YES!

    Enter “Dan” (I see you changed your screen name again) acting as the muzzie apologist.

    Well, I learned all I need to know about Islam on 9-11.

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm


Why not visit a dangerous country where things are different & extreme, but where the government isn’t one that the US has problems with? Like Russia, or Mexico, or Honduras? It’s fine to participate in ‘people watching’, however, what’s not right is creating a situation where the US government has to bail you out once you get into trouble.

I’d actually have no problems w/ these Westerners visiting Yemen, Saudi Barbaria, Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia etc if only they didn’t expect the US government to bail them out once they got into trouble – for things like kissing their girlfriends/boyfriends in public, woman driving a car, celebrating mass on weekends, et al. It’s just that these hostages become bargaining chips in making the State Department – Jihadi as it already is – even more pro-Islamic. If that weren’t the outcome, by all means, go to Sa’ana and watch, for instance, how the remaining Jews who live there, live (essentially, cleaning toilets is among the only jobs they are allowed to have)

Infidel Pride on June 9, 2010 at 2:22 am

LOL. So getting gang raped and then tortured seems like a bit of adventure, eh? The slavery bit should work just fine. Like most modern slaves, you will find the screaming and imprecations to authorities no more than entertainment. And after months of gang rape and beatings, your wish to escape but a dream. No one will recognize you. No one will care other than your family.

pat on June 9, 2010 at 2:47 am

Dear Ms. Schlussel: Since when do you trust/cite Reuters? Did you read what Charles Johnson-Robert Avrech linked it on his website-said about Reuters TODAY? Reuters coverage is for the birds, not surprisingly in a company that got its start using homing pigeons.

Miranda Rose Smith on June 9, 2010 at 5:17 am

    MIranda, You’re funny! Right about Reuters. However, they won the right to cover I think the Crimean War because of Reuters (played by E.G. Robinson, btw) had the innovative idea to do so. The other guys,( UP before it was UPI, cant remember?) because they thought human couriers on swift horses or something were still better. How sad such marvellous thinking was put to such waste.

    mk750 on June 9, 2010 at 9:13 am

      Miranda, You’re funny! Right about Reuters

      Dear mk750: Thanks.

      To all the people on this blog who feel that Americans who go to third world hellholes out of youthful curiosity (curiosity doesn’t kill only cats), out of a desire to see a different culture, should be abandoned to whatever hideous fate they may bring down on themselves, do you feel the same way about people who go to third world hellholes for TOTALLY HUMANITARIAN reasons? Remember those 6 Bulgarian nuns and a Palestinian doctor? They went to LIBYA and wound up in prison, convicted and sentenced to death for infecting Libyan children with AIDS. The French paid a huge, humiliating ransom to get them sent to “serve their sentences” in Bulgaria. The Palestinian doctor was made a naturalized Bulgarian citizen, if I remember correctly, and they were all released from prison. Should the French have paid that ransom or should the West have allowed 6 innocent people to be executed on blatantly false charges?

      Miranda Rose Smith on June 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm

        Miranda, I believe that those who do charity work in Islamic countries get what they deserve. I do not believe in ANY charity for Islamic countries.

        So, the next time there is a natural disaster in the Dar al-Islam, I will be vocal in letting the Bnei Amalek die.

        skzion on June 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm

          So, the next time there is a natural disaster in the Dar al-Islam, I will be vocal in letting the Bnei Amalek die.

          skzion on June 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm

          Dear skzion: I believe they’re the Bnei Ishmael.

          Very frequently, young Israeli men go abroad, before or after they’re finished with the army or the university. It sometimes seems to me that they ALL go to South America or Nepal and they ALL go there to disregard official warnings and hike in dangerous places. Do you think that the Nepalese or Brazilian taxpayers should be required to rescue them from the consequences of their stupidity? Inexperienced winter hikers and campers, in the United States, frequently get into trouble and the park rangers or the state police go out, in helicopters, in dangerous storms, to rescue them. Do you think they shouldn’t? Do you think a country’s navy or coast guard should not spend its country’s taxpayer’s money rescuing sports boaters (fisherman are a different story-danger is part of their job-they usually don’t sail into dangerous waters out of reckless macho stupidity and they should be helped when they get into trouble) who sail into dangerous waters?


          Miranda Rose Smith on June 10, 2010 at 2:19 am

Some people like to go places to be shocked.

Dear Charlotte: You want to be shocked? Go to a nursing home and see how even the best places treat the patients.

Miranda Rose Smith on June 9, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Miranda, you say:

    “Dear skzion: I believe they’re the Bnei Ishmael.”

    As usual, an interesting comment from you. I disagree with your claim, though. The assorted Arabs that now cause such trouble for civilization were still in Arabia at the time of Ishmael. Islam didn’t yet exist. So, the Ishamaelites could not have been Arabs as we know them. Moreover, we Jews are commanded to blot out the memory of Amalek in each generation. Since the historical Amalekites were an ethnic people that no longer exists, we must search elsewhere. While certain “rabbis” assert that Amalek is within us (“spiritual struggle” anyone?), I think it’s pretty obvious who the spawn of Amalek are today. What’s more, I think it’s important that the Bnei Amalek are not an “ethnicity.” American Muslim converts are Bnei Amalek just as Arab Muslims are.

    “Inexperienced winter hikers and campers, in the United States, frequently get into trouble and the park rangers or the state police go out, in helicopters, in dangerous storms, to rescue them. Do you think they shouldn’t? . . . “TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU FEEL THAT TAXPAYER’S MONEY SHOULD NOT BE SPENT TO RESCUE PEOPLE FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR STUPIDITY???!!”

    If places in the US are open to the public, rangers/police are paid to do their jobs. I don’t think we have the luxury of assessing ahead of time whether people in trouble were negligent. This applies to foreign lands like Brazil as well. These lands certainly want tourist dollars, after all.

    But when people travel to deeply anti-American places like Islamic countries and help pay the controlling regimes with their tourist dollars, THEN get in trouble, I say adios to them. In general, I am not very sympathetic to the idea of government subsidizing risk taking by private citizens, however. The term “moral hazard” covers this.

    skzion on June 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      If places in the US are open to the public, rangers/police are paid to do their jobs. I don’t think we have the luxury of assessing ahead of time whether people in trouble were negligent. This applies to foreign lands like Brazil as well. These lands certainly want tourist dollars, after all.

      Dear skzion: Good answer. Thanks and Shabbat Shalom.

      Miranda Rose Smith on June 11, 2010 at 2:32 am

I agree with you, you can learn Arabic in non-Arabic
country & why American still go to Yemen ?
February 25, 2010
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities. The Department recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Yemen. American citizens remaining in Yemen despite this warning should monitor the U.S. Embassy website and should make contingency emergency plans. This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued June 26, 2009.

Jacqueline Hanna Youssef on June 9, 2010 at 8:16 am

Debbies got game

jimbob jones on June 9, 2010 at 8:27 am

Well, I guess that since Charlotte doesn’t care about her own country and what she will cost us, and doesn’t care if she spends money in satanic countries like Yemen, I hope that she is killed quickly to spare us the bother. Maybe she could take Dan with her.

skzion on June 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I hope that she is killed quickly to spare us the bother. Maybe she could take Dan with her.
    Dear skzion: Not nice.

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Miranda: butt out.

    SK: I will pay for one-way tickets for “Dan” and “Charlotte”.

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Charlotte, I actually respect your decision to go to Yemen and experience something different. i say good luck. The caveat, as others have pointed out, if something goes wrong, and by your own admission you are bringing danger intentionally upon yourself, do not call the state department for help. We live in a free country, well mostly free, and if you have to do this to satisfy your curiosity, great, but don’t expect the rest pay for your risky behaviour. Hoep you make it back in one piece

Adam K on June 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Adam K said “Hoep you make it back in one piece”

    I don’t. Stay gone. You don’t deserve freedom!

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Charlotte, these days, if you want to integrate yourself into the Muslim lifestyle or observe it from close up, you don’t need to go to Yemen. Just go to London, Berlin, Antwerp, Amsterdam, or any other major city in Europe. There are plenty of those wonderfully interesting people there these days. Heck, just go to Dearborn Michigan!

We are Phucked on June 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I seem to remember a few other dumb asses that went “hiking” on the border of Iraq and Iran. They had a great time assimilating. I highly recommend that area as well.lol

samurai on June 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I think Charlotte is a muzzie my friends, I do not believe “she” is a student at all. Just another pro Muslim troll.

I will tell you this.

Stay out of Mexico. It has become one of the worst third world countries that will hijack you, kidnap you, hold you for ransom, rape you and or rob, and kill you by the “Banditos”, the corrupt Police, the Federales, or any number of the Drug operators. Just pick one; they all are doing it south of the border to unsuspecting Americans Tourists.

The USA Government and Embassy personnel will refuse to help you, in fact, they will cover up anything that happens to you that is negative to the Mexican Government.

My father and I used to go their all the time. We were in an auto accident with a 90 year old truck driver and damn near ended up as hostages held for ransom. Granted this happened in the early 1970’s and it is worse now. Luckily, I was semi fluent in Spanish.

After we were hit by a Mexican driver that fell asleep at the wheel, my father was immediately arrested for being at fault in the accident.(Non citizens are automatically guilty when in a traffic accident BTW) He was taken to this hell hole of a Mexican police station with one cell and a desk off of the main street.

I over heard the Mexican Guard talking with another Mexican about how much money he thought my father was worth in ransom. The other Mexican was supposedly our, “savior”, representative from the US Embassy that was going to get us bailed out. You see we had the so called Tepeyac Mexican Auto Insurance they say you just have to buy to keep out of jail. What a joke that is. The “other Mexican” smiled in my face and told me he had to go to the back to the Embassy to arrange for my fathers bail. BS!! More than likely he was going to get see how much my father was worth in the USA before demanding a ransom.

The other Mexican left this little jail house and the guard fell asleep. My father was scared to death and I was this little hard assed no fear 22 year old. My dad and I decided to get the hell out of dodge.

I got the holding cell keys on his desk and let my father out of the cell and we drove as fast as we could to San Luis border crossing in AZ and have not been back since. Luckily, we had taken two vehicles or we would have been out of luck. I was driving a “hopped up” off road vehicle and my father was towing our camper trailer.(Both were confiscated by the Mexicans). We were damn lucky to get out of there in one piece. Remember they did not even have radios back in those days in Mexico except in the large cities and they were the Vacuum Tube variety.

The reason I am telling you this is that I have heard through friends that it is a hundred times worse now than it was back then. Stay out of Mexico or you may just end up being another gringo that has disappeared south of the border.(google the state dept warnings)

There are thousands of places in the good old USA that are far safer and more enjoyable than in that third world shit hole of a country.

ScottyDog on June 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Hey Deb,

This has nothing to do with the article but it seems like you conveniently forgot to mention the June 8th, 1967 attack on the research vessel, the USS Liberty, and the American lives lost on that day. Thanks for remembering.

Joe on June 10, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hey Joe/Mohammed, it seems you conveniently forgot 9/11, which is only one of many terrorist attacks by you Muslims. That is why your expulsion from the West is such a pressing matter.

skzion on June 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm

skzion: Do you not know the difference between personal education and formal education? Some people see both as of equal importance. And by the way, every educated person would agree with me that the best way to learn about the world is to see it for yourself.

Also, you should be ashamed of yourself for wishing death upon me, someone you don’t even know. I did feel bad about your wishing me to die until I saw your other comments to people who appear to be “Muslim sympathizers” and saw how vile you are to people who actually give Muslims the time of day. I don’t take you seriously enough to feel bad anymore.

I think people are confused on the word “integrate”. I meant blend in superficially so that passersby wouldn’t find me conspicuous. Obviously, dressed in a niqab is the best way to go, especially for my own safety. And, my fiance is Arab, so I think causing an international incident is quite unlikely, considering how inconspicuous we are both in appearance and behavior.

To everyone else who thinks I am dying to go to Yemen for a cheap thrill: Get real. You know as well as I do that there is no one in the world whose sole destination in life is Yemen and that many who visit it have a legitimate curiosity to learn about its culture that no one, not even Jesus, would fault them for. I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to go raise your blood pressure elsewhere.

Charlotte on June 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Also, I attend a university that many consider quite liberal, even myself. So, although it is one of the most “serious colleges” (as you put it) in the country, I doubt it would satisfy you, skzion.

Charlotte on June 11, 2010 at 1:20 am

Charlotte, you are tedious, and now you’ve taken to covering your ass. You say:

“To everyone else who thinks I am dying to go to Yemen for a cheap thrill: Get real.”

However, you started this whole “discussion” with the following:

“I’m an American university student (young white female) and I’d like to visit Yemen (albeit in a niqab so I’ll blend in more). Why do I want to visit? Because it’s there, ‘dangerous’, different, extreme.”

Clearly you indicated at first that you are in it for a cheap high. But now it is obvious that you were being partly dishonest. You now say that have an Arab (Muslim, I assume, why hide it?) fiance (part of the cheap high?). So, it seems you are close to converting to Islam. This explains much.

I do not wish you death, but if you are captured, yes, I prefer you to be killed quickly rather than take up US resources and cause the US problems. When you become Muslim, you give up your humanity. At that point, your life is inconsequential to me.

Whether you take me seriously is utterly irrelevant to me. If do not care about the opinions of ignorant and childish college students.

Enough. I have spent too much time on you.

skzion on June 11, 2010 at 11:39 am

So-the US is notorious for its inability to field any reliable Arabic speakers. Years and years after 9/11 and much money spent guess what? “mericans suck at Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu etc…So what you may ask. Well if you want good intell you gotta know the culture and you gotta know the local lingo. Israelis kick butt at it because they do true immersion, it also helps that Hebrew is very much related to Arabic as the “other” semitic people, and by the way, much simpler than Arabic. Anywho…Deb I ain’t no bleeding heart liberal but ya better stick to Dallas cuz you clearly know zip about Arabic and how and where to best learn it. It’s top ranked 5 difficulty because not only is the grammar a B but the formal version taught in schools is about useless to actually talk to folks much less understand what they are saying ’bout yuz or deciphering taped conversations or interrogating properly. On top of that there are 4 main dialects, which are not mutually intelligible with each other necessarily and certainly not for foreigners trying to learn it because it will help keep this country safe-duh! UR whole little tantrum made me laugh so hard because U don’t know Dick about it! Yemeni dialect is one of the most classical ones out there, arguably the most related to standard arabic and an easy skip to other gulf dialects and also Iraqi. A CLEARLY valuable tool if U wanna get the down on what OSama(ancestors are Yemeni) or whatever Sheikh or AQAP happens to be spouting. You can study ARabic in lots of other places but even the cheapest alternatives, Morocco and Syria, are far more expensive. PLUS in NA French will be a reliable crutch to hamper Arabic learning-even if you have never studied it you could understand this: L’Avenue de la revolution de fraternite, et egalite, et liberte. I know coz I’ve lived it and if you be on a scholarship to learn Arabic and you’re just beginning every able bodied French or English speakers from Morrocco to Tunisia will use their Indo-Eur tongues rather than wait painfully for your Arabic. In Egypt and Jordan you will find many a many English speaker and at all the programs that US fed $ and ed.institutions send folks too are OVERRUN by english speaking staff, students, administrators, street vendors etc… and some locals will sometimes speak French. I personally had to ditch everyone of my western friends and english speaking arab classmates because after over 10K of US taxpayer $ to learn ARabic I never HEARD it used except for 50 minutes out of 60, 5 times a day 5 times a week, or in the dusty hookah joint I frequented where NO westerners EVER roamed, or with the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. After I nixed the expat and expatisized locals I learned more Arabic in 4 months than in the previous 3 years of bonafide US academic study-again much on scholarship funded by various local and fed resources. PS-Jordan is worse because a mUCH larger % of people there know English-and much, much better than any yankees know Arabic, dear. Syria is a better option but it too is chockablock with western expats learning arabic to surround you and locals who know much more english and french than U would. Lebanon is even worse so it’s out! The GCC countries are out because 1)EXPATS so outnumber locals that you’re lucky if you U know one, and 2) the locals do keep to themselves and 3) the other arabs living there almost always know english well. SO that leaves; Libya, Iraq and Yemen. If Iraq were stable you’d find lots of educated Iraqis speaking 3 and 4 languages to our typical one-again making it hard for a studen, but it ain’t so it’s out. Libya would be ok but I’ve NEVER heard of an arabic school there and the place just opened up recently after we made nice with em again. SO for many reasons you seem ill-informed about Yemen makes a linguistically ideal spot to learn Arabic. Now I agree with others it ain’t no country club, dangerous and deadly. It’s no place for happy hikers like those yahoos who got snared by the Iranians while out for a stroll in Kurdistan, nor cute she-reporters trying to make a name in North Ko. But if you look now on certain job boards, guess what the US feds are posting for??? that’s right baby, speakers of the Yemeni dialect! Granted lots of idiots do idiot things but there ARE legit reasons for studying Arabic in Yemen. As always the rotten apples spoil it for others and U be throwing out altifl m3 al miat al-hammam. Frankly, raving narrow-minded folks like U and some posters here don’t help the real people who do the real hard job of defending this nation and legitimate allies with your xenophobic ignorant ways. Indulge a true anecdote: During some interesting, but not terribly pertinent econonomic negotiations that cost the US tax payer a few million less in trade revenue, as US dip was tactfully reminding an Arab ally that they had way surpassed their import quota and to kindly cease and desist. This Dip had 4 years of Arabic study at THE DC university for such stuff, and service abroad in other Arabic speaking lands; could translate a newspaper article into english in a flash, but could hardly do more than hi and bye salaams and order a falafel sandwich. Nice person really, smart, et al. and had done the official arabic study route you tout so blithely. So…the Arab Dip had a nice interpreter who could do british and ‘merican. this bloke translated the Amer-dip’s lines fluently. In between this Econ deputy minister and he would sidechat negotiating strategy-in dialectical Arabic. The US dip couldn’t understand a word of it-and they KNEW it. RIght in front of him they mentioned how they thought he was bluffing, how if they just fed him a line of dip bull and more sugared tea he, and the US insistence, would melt away, coz the Americans needed their docks for US military more than they cared about a few million lost in tariffs. This went on quite a while and the US dip kept delivering proscribed lines and not understanding a word. I sat by silently(I later asked the dip how much he had understood and told me without hesitation that not much beyond greetings because they spoke the local dialect which he knew not at all after 2 years in country and anyway it was too fast and he had studied in Egypt). So at one point my eyes must have been too keen because the interpreter stopped cold mid-sentence, looked at me intently, smiled and shut up, never uttering one more word. Then miracle of miracles the Econ Dep breaks out in the queen’s own and the meeting finished in less than 5 minutes with a hospitable flourish we were shown the door posthaste. A week or so later a friendly letter of inquiry came to the Embassy, from a different ministry, asking kindly after the newest young’un on staff and inviting me to some tours etc…upon which I went and on which my local host repeatedly tried to speak with me in detailed and intricate Arabic. I played the usual book bound western academic but they knew. A similar incident happend many years later on a quasi-military project designed for anti-terrorism; the arab colonel tried to catch me out. So imagine the disadvantage we hold with our “allies” much less our enemies.

Realitycheck on June 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Your comments about the Middle East and particularly Yemen are quite disturbing. How do you expect the US government to have capable foreign policy advisors if the advisors are not familiar with the culture, geography, and language of the countries they are responsible for providing advice about? Too many American students of Arabic sit in classrooms stateside or attend all inclusive programs at prestigious Middle Eastern universities run by American universities, both of which often result in naïve, sheltered, overly optimistic understandings of the Middle East. I wish more people like Charlot would come to the Middle East and see it for what it is- the good and the bad.

FYI Charlot, if you ever read this, there is no need to cover your face in Yemen. A balto, as it’s called locally, and a hijab will do just fine even in the most conservative areas. You’ll blend in more with your face covered only if you are riding in car, otherwise the way you walk, your eyes, shoes etc. will all give you away as not Yemeni.

sara on October 27, 2010 at 5:16 am

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