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Jihadi Stamps ?

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People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, 1971 stamps depicting weapons and soldiers

People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, 1971 stamps depicting weapons and soldiers

Jihad Stamps from Yemen

FDR collected stamps.  Has any president since?   Maybe philately should be a required hobby for NSA types.   Stamps are miniature works of art, symbols of national identity, achievement and aspiration.   If  Bush I or Bush II had been stamp collectors, they might have noticed evolving political sentiments expressed on the postage stamps in the Persian Gulf region.  Rising militaristic spirit is spelled out boldly on Yemen’s stamps, for example.

Let’s look at a few stamps from Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and People’s Republic of Southern Yemen. Same place, different guys with guns in charge.

On stamps from the 1920’s through 40’s, the nation was known as Royaume de Yemen and Aden.  Stamps resembled philatelic issues of Syria and Lebanon, then French protectorates.  Early in the 1950’s the country name is simply Yemen.

There’s a flashback to French titling and design on several issues celebrating the Arab Postal Union, Arab League and other pan-Arabian organizations. During the early 1960’s, a wave of modern philatelic design focused on great works of art, boy scouts and the United Nations.

Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64.  Images of military equipment.

Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64. Images of military equipment.

Uh oh, trouble ahead. Trouble behind…

Issues of 1963-64 are labeled Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the stamps depict patriotic themes – flags and tanks, raised torches, guns with bayonettes and more flags.

Yet in 1964, the YAR splashed  their stamps with JFK, Olympic sports and Soviet astronauts, a practice used by many small nations to generate sales to topical collectors.  Oddly, the New York World’s Fair appears on Yemen’s 1964 stamps.  There’s  prescient symbolism too, with New York City skyscrapers on Yemen’s stamps.

Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64 showing New York skyline with Yemen flag and aircraft in the center.

Yemen Arab Republic stamps, 1963-64 showing New York skyline with Yemen flag and aircraft in the center.

New York City Skyline

The Yemen flag appears inside an oval over- laid on New York harbor including the Empire State Building.  It’s tempting to read meaning into the stamps which show airplanes  aimed at the New York skyline, but the stamps were airmail, so the image is reasonable.  I guess.

Issues of 1964-65 depict a turbaned revolutionary figure (an image similar to 21st century radical Arab-Islamics) holding a machine gun aloft honoring the Yemen Second Revolution Anniversary, not the 2nd anniversary of a revolution, but the Second Revolution.  Was the  First Revolution skipped by government stamp designers?

Yemen Arab Republic stamp, 1964-65, commemorating the Anniversary of the 2nd Revolution.

Yemen Arab Republic stamp, 1964-65, commemorating the Anniversary of the 2nd Revolution.

JFK and Builders of World Peace

There’s a stylized peace dove on one YAR stamp issued in September 1964 for the Arab Summit Conference.     U.S. President Kennedy’s  face appears on a series honoring space exploration and Russian cosmonauts issued in 1966.

JFK image with space craft.  Yemen Arab Republic stamp .

Builders of Peace series, Yemen Arab Republic, 1966.

Builders of Peace series, Yemen Arab Republic, 1966.

JFK image with space craft. Yemen Arab Republic stamp .

Also in 1966, Yemen prints  the  Builders of World Peace series and includes JFK and Pope Pius XII, who famously built peace by appeasing Nazi Germany.  Can you find the Arab leader who was an honored peace builder?

Several years pass.  Birds, fruit, medicine, space craft, European and Asian art treasures, and Olympic winter sports are the subjects Yemen prints on its stamps.  Not a bad idea since these are topical subjects prized by world philatelists, translating to revenue for the YAR.


Countries like Turkmenistan and Palau issue stamps commemorating events in the U.S. featuring U.S. Presidents.  Sales revenue unknown.

Palau stamps commemorate the First Undeclared Gulf War and President Bush, I.

Palau stamps commemorate the First Undeclared Gulf War and President Bush, I.

Honoring Rescue Workers.

Turkmenistan honors U.S. Rescue Workers and President Bush, II.














Soon Yemen has another name and a new revolution.  Would this be the Third Revolution? The Fourth?   In 1971 the postage stamps of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen depict turbaned and masked fighters in white robes holding machine guns against a backdrop of barbed wire.

YAR barbed wire & fighter stamp

Perhaps the Yemen political propaganda department decided that didn’t encourage productive international relations, because in 1972, the commemorative stamps show folk dancing.

Southern Yemen abruptly appeared  as a new country in 1968.  (I’ve lost count of the revolution time line.)  The new name is overprinted on stamps of the Federation of South Arabia.  Subsequent stamps from the People’s Republic of Southern Yemen use images of girl scouts and soldiers aiming rifles out of a foxhole.  I wonder why is it,  that countries titled “People’s Republic” or “People’s Democratic Republic” never are?

Southern Yemen name overprinted on Federation of South Arabia, 1968.

Southern Yemen name overprinted on stamps of the Federation of South Arabia, 1968.

People's Republic of Southern Yemen, 1969=70 depicting explosions.

People’s Republic of Southern Yemen, 1969-70,  Palestine Day commemorative stamps depicting explosions.


Southern Yemen’s stamp designs and subjects for commemorative issues  in 1969-71, glorify rifles, fighters, explosions and soldiers with rifles.

Not surprising, the series titled Palestine Day bristle with military images.  The most explicit seems to be a jihad warrior ascending to the heavens on a cloud above what might be a sleeping dog.

Revolution Day in Yemen is October 14.

Might be a day to stay home.

People's Republic of Southern Yemen Revolution Day, 14 October 1965.

People’s Republic of Southern Yemen Revolution Day, 14 October 1965.


Chalk it up to your least favorite Bad President.

Images of fake stamps and coins from

Images of fake stamps and coins from





Written by patwa

04/08/2013 at 4:58 pm

Saigon’s Rex Revisited in HCMC

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City Hall.

Rex Hotel

The Rex, in downtown Saigon — now    Ho Chi Minh City — was the hang out spot for newspaper correspondents, military “advisors” and Quiet Americans during the Vietnam War.

Built in 1927 as a car dealership and showroom during the French colonial era, the Rex Hotel gained a few floors and became a hotel just in time for the arrival of U.S. Army soldiers and specialists in 1961.  During the war, journalists gathered to wash down their cynicism as unrealistic progress reports were delivered by military officials to the press.

U.S. Air Force aircraft at Vietnam War Museum, HCMC.

After that war ended in 1975, the city tourism bureau took over the hotel.  By the mid-1980s, tourists and business entrepreneurs looking for trade opportunities were staying there. The rooftop restaurant-bar offers terrific views, drinks with paper parasols and an atmosphere not available elsewhere.

Written by patwa

29/10/2012 at 9:28 pm

Posted in History, Travel, Vietnam

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Would You Hire This Guy?

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Written by patwa

26/07/2012 at 1:25 pm

Will Hunters Wear Hot Pink?

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Is it heretical to think we need more deer hunters? Somebody needs to thin the herds that have resulted from rapacious outer suburban development.

I’ve already got a permit to buy a firearm. I’ve been thinking of learning how to shoot. I’d look great in hot pink hunting cammis.

Flipping through a hook and bullet magazine,  I learned that hunters should wear bright pink. Shocking pink is invisible to deer, yet easily distinguished by humans forging through winter woods. Will he-men with guns wear hot pink?

I’ve shadowed deer in genuine wilderness and protected pseudo-wilderness, — if a human can get there easily, it’s not true wilderness.

The deer live in and around their own gated communities — semi-suburban enclaves, parks, state controlled nature areas. The deer are my neighbors, live closer to me than some of my siblings. I know where the deer hide in regional parks and preserves, but that’s not saying much, since they parade with ease along highways, across lawns for gourmet shrubbery, and into town for brief celebrity in local news rags. You’ve seen the photos when a deer leaps through a store-front, spooked by its own reflection.

When I am in their territory, I follow the paths graven by their hoof marks or marked with scat. Deer paths emerge as a distinct line of scuttled leaves in the ground cover of fall and winter, a muddy track in spring, or flattened grass in summer. Nearly every walk along their byways, I’ll see the twitching white plume of a tail. I’ve seen leaping solitary bucks, herds of doe that nuzzle their young and lie close. Near an erratic outcropping of rock at the end of a shuffled leaf trail, the moss is upturned.

Deer don’t have enough to eat. Some townships and counties hire off-duty sharpshooters to cull the herd.  Who gets the meat?

As the skeins of forest thin and break at the hands of developers, the deer hew tightly plaited paths where they can no longer roam widely. The deer paths demonstrate an intelligence and instinct. Within hailing distance of convenience stores, ramblers, schools and skating rinks, the deer-ways curve with the land using topography or fallen trees for cover.

When deer are wild in the woods, they retain the shroud of mystery; when they are common as pigeons or rats, they lose their immunity lodged in beauty.

Is there an answer for the crowded suburban deer who live along your backyard fence? More state sponsored deer-kill seasons with volunteer hunters dressed in pink?

White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, with their vulnerable Audrey Hepburn eyes, turn your heart when you see them shadowed on a lawn or poised to leap a roadside barrier. But to a homeowner or driver, they signal disaster, even death. Deer darting across country byways cause crashes. My mother’s Hosta collection were midnight snacking grounds for the deer until she moved all the plants to a fenced garden.

The deer have a four million year history, got along just fine with the indigenous residents and our immigrant forebears. When did enough room to roam become nowhere at all?

I know deer are losing their fear of humans. I don’t need to wear pink to be invisible. They’re used to my scent. The foals are complacent, stand and stare back, their only display of authority to strut in place with their white tails at half-mast.

With deer living in parks, fool-‘em strips of trees along the highways and suburban vest-pockets woods, they’ve become semi-domestic fixtures, like goats or dogs. They live with squirrels and ground hogs and opossum. And die like them too, as road-kill. A neighbor butchers fresh deer killed by motorists and gives it to the food bank for poor folks.

Written by patwa

27/03/2009 at 10:16 pm

Posted in Essay

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