In the South Yemeni governorates of Abyan and Lahj, there is a mysterious armed force sweeping through territory, creating Yemen’s largest current humanitarian crisis and, reportedly, establishing an “Islamic Emirate”. Whether or not these “militias” or “armed Islamists” are made up of jihadis or AQAP members, we’ll never really know. Yemenis who have fled the violence and are now living in IDP camps in Aden simply say they don’t know who these men are. They wear normal clothes, they speak normally and they’re Yemenis. The only difference between an Abyani goat herder and these “militiamen” is that one is armed to the teeth and one isn’t.
All this terrorism and AQ jargon has got me thinking. There used to be a brewery in Aden, only about 50 miles from the capital of the supposed Islamic Emirate, Zinjibar.
Sadly, the brewery was completely destroyed by Saleh’s military in the 1994 civil war between North and South Yemen – a war in which Saleh sent tons of Afghan war vet jihadis to fight the Godless socialists of the south.
The fact that there was a brewery in Aden doesn’t really mean much. It doesn’t mean that southern Yemenis like to booze a lot and it doesn’t mean that southern Yemenis are all liberal socialists. All it means is that there was a brewery in Aden. It brewed a beer called Seera and I would have very much liked to drink it.
This article from a 1990 edition of the LA Times informs us that a lot of the brewery workers were shunned by the community. They had to wash their clothes separately from everyone else and it was hard for them to find wives. That doesn’t really mean much either. This quote from the article says it all
“In the (Persian) Gulf, liquor is banned, but you go into people’s houses there and you find complete bars,” said one Yemeni. “Here we aren’t hypocrites. If you want to go to a bar, you can. If you want to go a mosque, you can.”
The Arabian Peninsula is a lot like parts of the American south – people get up in church and talk about the evils of booze just a few hours before they head home and have a few beers while watching the game. Gulf Arabs, at least the ones with money, like to appear pious but they love Johnnie Walker Black Label. I wish I worked at the Johnnie Walker distillery just so I could see how many crates of the stuff get shipped to Riyadh. I’m not a big fan of blended scotch but to each his own I reckon.
As a subscriber to the multiverse hypothesis, I take comfort in knowing that in some parallel universe there is a man named Jeb Boone, he’s a journalist, he lives in Sana’a, and the floor of his apartment is littered with these.
Isn’t that a nice thought? It makes me smile. Here’s to you, Seera Brewery, Aden. I’ll toast to your memory and the fine men that kept you running for many years to come. Cheers.