ReflectionsImmigration swindlers, and Yemeni Turks [Archives:2005/822/Opinion]

March 7 2005

By Yahya Al-Olfi
[email protected]

Before the discovery of oil in the Middle East, there were no boundaries between what is now known as KSA, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen.

Lawrence of Arabia, Wilfred Thesiger, Harold Ingrams as well as Sir Harry St. John Philby amongst other many English Arabian Peninsula adventurers during the British supremacy, mentioned as early as the could that the discovery of oil in the Arabian Peninsula signaled an everlasting transformation of the movement of tribes in the Arabian Peninsula.

Following Kuwait's invasion by the Iraqi Armed Forces back in the year 1990 many Yemenis were kicked out from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Sheikhdoms. And this put an end once and for all to the age old practice of land immigration by the Inhabitants of South Arabia towards either Mesopotamia or the Levant. That used to be on camels and horseback, and at the outset of last century on the newly-invented automobiles.

In fact this old time process was the crucial reason in the remote past for the Semitic cohesion of the peninsula's northern areas i.e. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine prior to Islam and the easy Arabization later on of the other fraternal Semite tribes i.e. Assyrians, Aramites, Phoenicians etc.

Anyhow, Yemenis now are not free like their predecessors in moving northwards, so they are trying to leave to other lands.

While I am on the subject, I would like to mention a real anecdote which begins with a Saudi visiting Canton, China and complaining to his other Saudi colleague. (Though pretending to be different they are Yemenites too) that the Yemeni contractor did not build his home properly (even though Yemenis working in KSA, in fact have learnt how to build modern houses on the expense of Saudi citizens.) Hearing the word “Yemen” to the dismay of the two Saudis, the waiter in Canton China told them that he was too, of Yemeni Origin.

Another Yemeni was working in JFK Airport, USA in transporting passenger luggage, while a Saudi passenger had just arrived. Upon knowing that the airport laborer was from Yemen, the Saudi expressed his utmost displeasure for he has seen enough Yemenis back home (self renunciation) only to find them ahead in an American airport. He started to call the poor laborer names.

So the worker's reaction was knocking the hell out of the Saudi snobbish nouveau-riche, and he was consequently sacked from the job due to such a rash reaction.

Thus, immigration swindlers find in Yemen a thriving market for their schemes. During the past several years, a Lebanese immigration swindler charged US $14,000 for each individual. Thus, 20 Yemenis whom he fraudulently convinced to make them arrive in USA were eventually stranded in Curacao in the Caribbean. Some of them managed to return and others are still scavenging to subsist.

Yemeni Turks

Turks occupied Yemen for three short periods and were mostly rebuffed, maimed and killed. So Turks have sad memories about Yemen to the extent that they dubbed it the cemetery of Anatolia i.e. Turkey. Turks in my opinion do not like to be moderate on things. They like being on the extreme.

We Yemenis have earned from them the black shroud worn by women and termed as “Sharshaf” when Turks were for radical Islam. Now, they are for secular life.

I was dumbfounded to count more than 25 houses in Sana'a alone whose owners are of Turkish origin and have either melted or are quickly melting into society. A good way to know if one in the old city is of Turkish origin is the speech mode of women and the color of their eyes. A non-Turk woman for example would say Aaqwaldayh (i.e. naughty boy) while a Turkish Yemeni would say “Valadaaq”.

Unfortunately, most have melted and the remaining few are trying to melt as quickly as possible into Yemeni society. Some have chosen extremely local Yemeni names while others opted for a lineage to the Prophet in imitation of other segments. So Yemen, not just the USA, has proved to be a melting pot despite all odds.