"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Ambassador

Saba is reporting that the US is prepared to name a new Ambassador to Yemen, as Stephen Seche's term is expiring.   The rumor is that it will be Gerald Feierstein, currently in Pakistan.  Here's an article about him in Dawn, and here is his State Department bio.  He looks to be an old Middle Eastern hand. 

Right now Saba is the only place I can find this.  The person I talked to at the State Press Office hadn't heard anything, but they are going to be getting back to me.  I'll be sure to keep you informed of anything I hear.

While you're eagerly awaiting that, Greg has had a couple of awesome posts up at Waq al-Waq.  If you haven't read them yet, you should. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jihadi Video on ABC

ABC News obtained a AQAP training video, which includes the sad and desolate statement of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  There isn't terribly much to this video.  It shows Abdulmutallab shooting a gun, as well as other people shooting.  They are shooting, charmingly, at make-shift flags of Israel, England, and the United Nations (pretty much just a piece of cloth with "UN" written on it).  They are also shooting at a plane in the air, which at first I thought was a drone but now don't think so.  And aviation experts with an insight?  I'm looking at you, Fallows.   Astonishingly, their method of lying on their backs shooting in the air failed to bring it down. 

I'm not trying to make light of this.  I obviously think AQAP is very dangerous.  But there is always, to me, something ridiculous about these videos- a bunch of guys running around in the desert firing guns all helter-skelter. 

The other funny thing is that one of the guys was pixelated out.  I guess they don't want people to see this particular operative- but that begs the question: if you have the technology to pixelate, why not just edit that shot out? 

Pomona Talk

Here's the video of the talk I gave at Pomona College earlier this month.

Yemen in the 21st Century from Pomona Student Union on Vimeo.

I am the guy in the suit.

Thanks to Anna for sending me the link to this. 

Attacking the British

Clearly, the big news of the day is the attack on the British Ambassador, Tim Turlot, in San'a today.   Turlot was unhurt as his car was armored (armoured, sorry).  The attacker, 22-yr-old named Othman Ali al-Salwi, was killed when his suicide vest went off (some stories add the salacious detail of his head being found yards away, because nothing significant can happen unless attached to a gruesome depiction).  

This clearly bears the hallmark of our friends at AQAP- a high-value target, careful planning, knowledge of routine and with the best chance of making a splash.  Clearly, it "failed", as Turlot escaped, but in terrorism carnage is not the only goal.  This is especially true for AQAP.  They once again made a splash (although a quick jaunt around some English papers shows it buried below election news, though this might be due to time differences and my own delay).  And, just like the Christmas attack, they didn't really lose anything.  A one-man operation is ideal; all losses are minimized. 

I think the interesting question that attacks like this always beg is "rational is not?".   Obviously, our sense of rationality would reject such an attack.  The British, despite involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, aren't directly at war with AQAP.    This would only seem to draw in a potentially powerful enemy, something intelligent actors are loathe to do (the classic example of this is, of course, Hitler invading Russia).  But you also have to understand that their goal is to destabilize Yemen.  The Brits have been in the forefront of international efforts to help Yemen.  If an attack on their Ambassador causes them to engage more militarily, AQAP wins even if they are hurt.  If it causes them to throw their hands in the air, or to question Salih's commitment (and to tighten their own wallets) AQAP wins.   They are, indeed, extremely rational answers.

There is also the side question of them possibly influencing the British elections, a la Madrid.  I can't speak to that, nor can I say what would be a desirable outcome for them.  I only know enough about British politics to know that you are legally required to refer to Gordon Brown as a "dour Scotsman", and that there is a guy named Clegg who may or may not be the British Obama.   Also, as my friend Mark says, every single one of them makes a tortured 20-yr transition from Labour to Tory, particularly all the authors.   However, if I had to bet, I would say that this attack while this attack was carried out at least in part with British politics in mind, electoral politics had little to do with it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A few more links

Nasser Arrabyee writes of the still-fragile north.  The government doesn't think the rebels are enacting their end of the peace treaty.   At the Middle East Channel, Aaron Zelin is also not optimistic about the 6th round of fighting being the last.  His is a good piece, and he talks about the Zaydi movement being a reaction to Sunni militancy, which below I said that almost no one did.  So, hat: eaten.

Haley Sweetland Edwards has an article about the politics of killing Anwar al-Awlaki, who has become famous beyond his narrow, grandiose dreams (and no, that is not a contradiction, I promise).  While I think his status is overrated, she does bring up the good point that "While al-Shihri and Rubaish might have more influence over when and where the next suicide attacks will occur, Awlaki arguably has more influence over whether or not the attackers themselves will be Americans or Europeans, who can slip by security checkpoints and access sensitive sites on American soil."     I tend to dismiss that, because I am arrogant and enjoy dismissing things with a cruel wave of my hand (the effect is admittedly ruined when I am typing in my pajamas).  But I do think it is important to understand the role English can play, as the jihadi world is expanding.  I just am not sure that al-Awlaki actually plays that role.  However, we are feeding into his fame, and that is something which can snowball exponentially.

 There is a report here about the "upstream fiscal impacts enacted in Yemen's oil and gas industry".  Well, the abstract at least.  Buying the full report is some 1400 pounds.  Any reader with 1400 pounds to spare?  I think it would be an interesting read, as it seems to detail where the money goes and the nature of business in Yemen.  It is often in dry reports that you get the measure of a country.   Sorry for the tease, but if anyone knows how I could access that without selling my car or quitting smoking that would be appreciated.

Finally, The Economist weighs in with a longish article about Salih and his problems.  It is largely standard stuff, and most of it wouldn't come as a surprise to people who follow this (which isn't to say it is not a good article).  What I found most intriguing was a couple of paragraphs about the South.   There is one quote which shows, I think, how bad things have gotten.  Of course, it is one quote, and take it with all the salt you want.

Aden’s governor claims that 100% of people in his city favour unity. But on the street, three people in one day begged this correspondent not to quote them for fear of being killed by police, then whispered a bitter litany of complaints. “If I were to argue for federalism, I would be stoned to death,” says an intellectual. “People want full independence or nothing.”

The article also mentions that there are rumors of a deal wherein Salih grants the South more autonomy in exchange for their leaders supporting another, extra-Constitutional term for Salih.   The democrat in me revolts, but any deal has to give the South more autonomy.  It does seem like a grand bargain, but only for the south.  All the other problems Salih has accumulated would only be heightened by a grab for more power.  Still, it is intriguing, and something I need to think more about.  What kind of deal can be made?  Readers are invited to hash it out below.

You shot who in the whatnow?

On of the most pernicious phrases in Middle East analytical gasbaggery is "over there, the enemy of my enemy is my friend."   This conjures up the images of sleazy, dusky men with hooked blades glittering in the moonlight, whispering in smoky rooms, and implies a lack of trustworthiness.  The person who says it generally does so with utmost confidence, as if the tiresome cliche they are repeating came straight from the fountain of previously-unrevealed truth.   I personally can't hear this without imagining the speaker in reflecting aviator shades and speaking with the froggy arrogance of Tom Clancy, but maybe that is a character fault of my own.   I think what bugs me the most about the phrase is that it suggests a fundamental and almost alien indecency.  I am no great fan of Arab politics, but, while the stakes generally have a more immediate life-and-death urgency, the general principles are not particularly different than anywhere else.  And, like anywhere else, one of the guiding principles is the (admittedly equally cliched) "politics make for strange bedfellows".

All that is a long-winded and fairly purple way of leading up to a bizarrely charming story about Yemen in Haaretz.  In it, the paper talks of a email they received from Shi'ites in Yemen talking about how they received information that anti-Hamas extremists in Gaza were calling on AQAP to attack Yemeni Jews and were also planning strikes on Israel itself, with weapons built by al-Qaeda in Iraq (specifically, the Quds-1 missiles).  Got it?

Now, I don't think it is impossible to imagine links between AQAP and regional Salafist groups- that has been one of the big fears for a while, as AQAP establishes themselves as a jihadi powerhouse.   I do think that it is unlikely that AQAP, currently harassed, is planning any strikes into Israel, particularly against (as the article states) the nuclear reactor in Dimona.  That is a little outside their comfort zone for the moment.  If they could, I don't doubt that they would, given the chance for glory and the resultant Israeli reaction, which would clearly not be in the best interest of Yemeni stability.   This seems to me more like politics- there is a kernel of truth here, to be sure, but it also is an attempt to get support for Zaydi revivalism against President Salih.  Afer all, they are alerting Israel (and Jews worldwide) of a threat inside Yemen- a little quid pro quo is nice, right?  What this also does is complicate the theory that Iran is behind all the trouble in the north, but I am sure the conspiracy-minded can square that circle.

To me, the most interesting thing here (beside the convolutions, for which I admit I am a junkie) is how it highlights the tension inside Yemen between Zaydism and radical Sunnism.  One of the great and largely unknown stories in Yemen is how the rise of Saudi-funded Salafi schools provoked a backlash in the Zaydi heartland in the north.   There were solid political reasons for Salih accepting Saudi money and letting hem found educational institutes, but, like so many times, it was a decision that led to hideous consequences down the road (thanks to Greg for helping to illuminate that story). 

That's why this is complicated.  You don't need a stock, faux-tough cliche to talk about why things are happening.  Those always obfuscate far more than they enlighten.  To get to where we are, all you need is an understanding of history and human motivations, none of which are particularly complex.   Even a convoluted article can make perfect sense.  It is a source of constant frustration that policy makers and analysts would rather assign a grand rationale to entire regions than try to figure out what is actually going on.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Yemeni Dilemma

Oliver Holmes has a smart article on the problem Yemen faces when dealing with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric targeted for death by the CIA.  The title, "Yemen Dithers..." is a little misleading, but then titles usually are, and generally aren't written by the author.  "Dithering" isn't the right word; it implies a unfocused lack of concern.  It is safe to say that the government of Yemen is very concerned with how to handle this. 

Of course, being concerned isn't the same as knowing what the hell to do.  Not helping with the arrest or assassination of al-Awlaki will make the US very mad, and President Salih is extremely dependent on US aid.  Helping with his death will enrage a good number of his citizens, who aren't exactly thrilled with his leadership.  Arresting al-Awlaki would probably work out, but then he'd face problems from Awlaki's powerful tribe, and even if he could deal with that it would be another set of problems.  There would be a clamor from the US to extradite him so he could face trial over here.  After all, we suspect him of aiding in the Ft. Hood massacre, and anyway don't trust the Yemeni judicial system. 

The problem is many Yemenis don't trust ours either, at least with respect to Yemenis.  Look at Gitmo; look at the trial of Sheik Moayad (kidnapped in Germany for suspected al-Qaeda and convicted in a US court for supporting Hamas, something that is perfectly legal in Yemen.  He was recently released back to Yemen).  As Holmes points out, most people in Yemen were unaware of al-Awlaki and unsure what he has done wrong, if anything.  Holmes quotes Greg's Newsweek article about how it is unsure if al-Awlaki is even in AQAP.  Turning him over in the US would also create controversy, though, to be fair, I imagine far less than a drone taking him out (this is just a guess of course, but have I steered you wrong before? No.)

So this is a perfect summation of the US/Yemeni relationship.  Things are done here that tend to ignore our partner's needs and constraints, and are done in part to satisfy domestic political requirements.   In Yemen, the President tries to balance the requests of his super-power patron with the passion of his people, while keeping a constant eye on his own power (you can reverse those clauses, if you'd like).

There is a lot of talk about the role a superpower needs to play, about how it should use its influence.  There are those who think that anything less than a full-throated military response the nearly everything is the weak and sniveling attitude of potential quislings.  Who cares what the Yemenis want?  We have some drones and a big ol' grievance: use em.   But part of being this power necessitates us downplaying our desires for balance and with an eye toward our long-term needs (in this case, a relatively stable Yemen).  If you think of that as weak, recalibrate your thoughts a touch.  Consider it a form of noblesse oblige.  Sure, I don't actually care what the coolies think about our actions, but if we have to make them happy for a few minutes to advance our interests I'll suck it up.  See, if you just think that way, you can do the right and smart thing and still satisfy your power-cravings.   

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Privatization in Yemen?

Looks like it.  The Yemen Observer has a pretty interesting interview with Hassan al-Lawzi, the Minister of Information.  In it, he talks about selling radio and TV bands to private citizens.   This is actually a pretty big development, and might go a long way.  The democratization of information is always important to furthering actual democracy.  Yemen already has a history of a lively free pass, though it is stifled in times of trouble (like now).   But I think it is important to note that press restrictions seem a violation, and a controversial one, rather than the norm.  In the region, that is pretty remarkable.

I don't want to overstate the case.  The government will still decide who gets these contracts, and I wouldn't hold my breath expecting pirate radio and TV stations to sprout up.  Print isn't cheap, but a broadcasting infrastructure is considerably more expensive.   There is a decent chance many of the licenses will still go to entrenched interests.   When monied interests are in charge, these mediums can become little more than a way to present commercials at best, and a viewpoint as well. 

Still, this is worth noting, especially when most of the news coming out of Yemen is bad.  This isn't exactly unadulterated good, but it is a reminder of the mass of contradictions and complexity that make up Yemen.  I would read the whole interview.  Predictable propaganda aside, it gives a pretty good look at the breadth of media in the country.

Also, on a side note, is there anything more sinister-sounding than "Minister of Information"?  Maybe "Secretary-General of Ax Violence", but that doesn't count because it only exists in Turkmenistan.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Confederacy

Not my thoughts.  But anyone concerned with race and memory and the grasping tentacles of the Civil War needs to read Ta-Nehesi Coates in The Atlantic.  No one writes like him, and I don't know of anyone who thinks about these issues as clearly as he does- clear enough to even recognize his own clouds.  This, in particular, is brilliant.

If the war actually weren't about slavery, I think all our lives would be a lot easier. But as I thought on it, my sadness was stupid. What undergirds all of this alleged honoring of the Confederacy, is a kind of ancestor-worship that isn't. The Lost Cause is necromancy--it summons the dead and enslaves them to the need of their vainglorious, self-styled descendants. Its greatest crime is how it denies, even in death, the humanity of the very people it claims to venerate. This isn't about "honoring" the past--it's about an inability to cope with the present.


This is about a lancing shame, about that gaping wound in the soul that comes when confronted with the appalling deeds of our forebears. Lost Causers worship their ancestors, in the manner of the abandoned child who brags that his dead-beat father is actually an astronaut, away on a mission of cosmic importance.

Killing al-Awlaki

Greg has an article in Newsweek regarding the limited utility, and possibly self-defeating nature, of assassinating Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.   He points out what we've discussed here- that al-Awlaki is at best small potatoes in AQAP, and that focusing on him distracts us from the real leaders.  Of course, he goes into more detail than my flat assertions.   This is the must-read of the day.

Of course, San'a is not happy about  the idea of strikes.  It is one thing for everyone to know the US is helping Yemen take out AQAP- it is another thing altogether for us to announce our plans to kill someone, specifically. San'a is trying to get al-Awlaki to turn himself in and avoid what Kissinger would call "a real international higgedly-piggedly".

Al-Awlaki's father has announced that his wayward son would stop his US-bashing if he is taken off the list.   The man is a former minister of agriculture, so he has some sway with the government as well.  In theory, this would be an ideal way to end the situation.  A little pressure causes junior to back off and get himself back to the straight-and-narrow.   Of course, as much credit as I give the Obama administration for subtle slow-plays, I wouldn't think that this was their goal.

Because here is the thing- on this blog and Waq al-Waq we've downplayed al-Awlaki to the level I feel he deserves.   But what we have right now is a pretty perfect encapsulation of the problems that the US has had in dealing with Yemen, and vice-versa.  Say the father's offer is legit (and as of now no one knows if the son is playing ball): that seems to be a perfect solution to the problem.  No blood, no more ranting, everyone walks away happy.  But you know that is impossible.  The admin backed themselves into a corner here.  Everyone "knows" this guy was behind the Ft. Hood slaughter and the Christmas attempt.   Everyone wants to see him taken out- bam: a gratifying drone-strike right between the eyes.

And so here's the mess: even if it could be proven that he isn't AQAP and really didn't have a role in either assault, there is no way that the admin can back down.  The press would go bonkers; talk-radio would have a fit; even more congressmen would be yelling seditious garbage about aiding and abetting enemies.   The father is in theory (for the sake of argument accept it as true) offering us a perfect Yemeni solution to the problem: the family guarantee.  It might not be ideal if he is indeed a criminal, but it works.  It takes a problem off our hands and allows us the chance to back down without doing anything reckless or self-defeating.  But can you imagine the US taking that offer?  Me neither.    Our domestic politics and lack of understanding- spanning both administrations- almost automatically negate the possibility of allowing a solution that appeals to Yemen.

This administration has been better and more nuanced.  But it still has the same restraints, both imposed and self-inflicted, that keep us from coming to a true resolution.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Women in Yemen

Blog friend Haley Sweetland Edwards has a new piece up on Yemeni women.   I really dug this article- it isn't just a recitation of statistics about why Yemen is a terrible (maybe the worst) country for women.  Instead, Haley gets a look on the inside, of women who are off the streets and can relax and talk.  It is a world in which I would never get an entrance, and neither would many journalists.  It is easy, when in Yemen, to see women walk by in the niqab, vanished into an anachronism.   You might shudder, or you might just walk by (and perhaps your inherent liberalism would make you feel bad for condemning the practice, even if you know that your condemnation springs from liberalism). 

Anyway, it is a nuanced piece, and it lets Yemeni women talk.   There are variations in point of view among the women at the bridal shower Haley attends, which may be surprising.

At the bridal shower, opinions were mixed. Faisa Hussein, one of the few women in Yemen with a university education, said Western countries fixate needlessly on the niqab.
“You,” Hussein said in an apparent reference to Western women, “hate us for wearing it. But I wear it because it makes me feel free. When I wear it, I can talk and laugh and eat and smile, and no one looks at me.

Her daughter, though, gets to the uncomfortable reality behind that freedom.

“She’s right. Yemeni women cannot talk, laugh, eat or smile in public, or people will stare at them.”

I don't like the idea of Western countries banning the veil.  I think that is far more trouble than it is worth, and can have the effect of rallying opposition.   But I don't think anyone should pretend that the veil or the niqab or burqa are anything but a subjugation.  Perhaps, through the years, people could find freedom within that subjugation, but they are designed to keep women hidden.  Some say they protect women from men, from their lust and scorn, but that doesn't exactly seem a reason to punish women, does it?

I know this is contentious and probably outside my field.  I'd welcome any comments.  

Friday, April 9, 2010

7th Round?

Oxfam released a report today saying that the ceasefire is offering hope in the north, but mentions the ongoing horror of landmines.   But Nasser Arrabyee tells us that efforts have been suspended due to Huthi intransigence.

Efforts of ending Al Houthi armed rebellion north of Yemen have stopped after alleged violations by the rebels including kidnapping 11 soldiers, mediators said Thursday.

"We have become convinced that the Al Houthi rebels are not serious in peace process, so we have suspended our work," said a statement by one the four committees in charge of supervising the implementation of the six conditions set by the government and accepted by the rebels to end the war in Sa'ada.

As we've talked about before, the truth here doesn't actually matter.  What matters is the willingness of the parties to believe the stories.  That is how wars start, or start again.  Needless to say, we are still in a breath-holding period.

Greg has a long post on Waq al-Waq (and just as you Wa-W junkies were getting over your DTs!).   He tells a great story about an important development: the investigation of land seizures.  This is an issue that gets to the heart of corruption in Yemen- powerful actors taking land from the poor and using it to enrich themselves.  It is a problem all over, but rings especially harsh in the South.  This is a small step, but an important one, and even an aamzing one, given the entrenched nature of the elites.  As Greg says, "just as Yemen is rightly criticized for its mistakes so too should it be praised for taking such difficult and positive steps."   Greg also briefly expands on my point that Huthi war crimes are not as important to the peace narrative as the government's, and questions how exactly they would be prosecuted. 

Finally, there is the story that has been everywhere, and which I've been slightly reluctant to touch.  I am talking, of course, about the 13-yr-old girl who died of internal bleeding following an arranged marriage. I've gotten some emails asking about this, but there isn't much to analyze.   There is no reaction other than to gnash your teeth in a sickened despair that such a thing could happen, that we live in a world where a young girl can be legally raped and die because of it.  There can be analysis- the poverty makes it impossible for parents to turn down a marriage offer, or that this is common in traditional societies.  But, in the end, none of that matters.  It may be imperialism, but that practice is a hideous dismissal of humanity.   That is all there is to say.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Killing Americans Abroad

As has been reported elsewhere, Anwar al-Awlaqi, the Yemeni-American cleric who was supposedly the inspiration for the Ft. Hood massacre, has been placed on a CIA assassination list, making him the first citizen to have that mark. 

I am not a legal scholar, so I am unsure as to the legality of this.  I know that I would be horrified to find out that the CIA was killing citizens inside America, but for someone overseas who is obviously a part of designated enemy...well, that seems to be within their field of operation.

What I do want to say, though, is that we have to be careful not to let al-Awlaqi become bigger then he is.  As Greg argued a few times in Waq al-Waq, this is not someone who is extremely important to AQAP.  I think it is safe to say that his importance has grown as his notoriety has increased, and this is something that will increase it further.  His role in the traumatizing murder of soldiers is something that sticks heavily in our psyche, and it would provide an immediate gratification to see him taken him out.  But there are people in Yemen who threaten us far more than a man whose importance only comes by dint of his language skills and heritage.   An emotionally-satisfying kill is great in the movies, but not if it comes at the expense of much more important targets. 

North and South

Back to Yemen, despite the thousands of emails I received asking for more college basketball analysis (note: this did not happen). 

Human Rights Watch has released a report about war crimes in the last round of the Huthi Rebellion.  You can take "last" to mean either "latest" or "final", depending on your disposition.   I think it is important in that it also mentions war crimes committed by the rebels, something that isn't much discussed.  Obviously, the crimes of Salih's government- carpet bombing, indiscrimnate shelling, the destruction of villages- are going to grab the headlines.  Regardless of what one feels about any specific rebellion, the power of the state is what attracts attention.  But the report talks of Huthi shelling, of deploying in populated areas, and of using child soldiers- something which we need to know to get a full picture.

However, as uncomfortable as it is, in the immediate political arena the crimes of the Huthis are meaningless.  They don't need to apologize to the government for putting innocents and children at risk; it is not as if the regime was overly concerned with their welfare anyway.  For reconciliation to happen, Salih is going to have to admit mistakes and apologize and be the one mending fences.  The Huthi leaders will have to reconcile as well, but Salih is the one who will bear the brunt of it if he hopes to avoid another hideous and unwinnable war.  That is just the nature of things, and it gets back to my argument that he is going to have to cede some control if he hopes to retain any.    Reconciliation seems to be inching its way toward a remote possibility, though, if prisoner releases are any indication.  

Meanwhile, bombings, strikes and arrests seem to indicate the south is moving closer to a HRW report themselves.   We're moving closer an closer to unity's 20th anniversary- anyone want to take bets on if the celebrations will also be an obituary? 

Looking for good news?   Yemen LNG has announced that they have opened another line, and this one ahead of schedule.   Despite all the delays, the liquefied natural gas project has turned out to be a success, despite the overwhelming political problems.  In an of itself, it can't save Yemen's economy, but it can perhaps be a demonstration that things can go right in Yemen, and that it might not be a losing bet. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

On Butler

Don't worry, I will be back to all-Yemen all the time, tomorrow.  Just give me a few.


Well, I can't be too disappointed.  They gave us a hell of a run.  They played their hearts out, and made it level with that All-American team of giants.  Almost won, too.  What did Hayword miss by on that fadeaway with 3 seconds left- an inch?  And the desperation three nearly, nearly clanged in.  Basketball, man.  But for the cruel and inarguable physics of the bounce, the tiniest movement of the finger, the imperceptible difference between the net swishing perfectly and the hideous season-ending sound of a miss...

Yes.  I know that there where other reasons they lost.  I can analyze basketball and point to the difference.  But not tonight. 

I'm proud of those guys.  I really am.  That should have been a heart-breaking loss- and, at the moment, I am fairly gutted- but for some reason it wasn't, entirely.   Not every sports story ends up with a sepia-toned fadeout, with the shot falling, the impossible dream coming true and the legend-makers rushing the court, hugging and screaming.  Some sports stories fall short.  Some by the most agonizing inch.  These guys will live over their mistakes for the next few months, maybe for the rest of their lives.  But they shouldn't.  Sports talk and writing is full of hyperbole, but they did something no one thought they could, they made it further than imagined, and pushed a great team to the limit.   Nice work, guys.  Hold your heads high. 

Go Bulldogs.