If you’ve ever seen a report on Western (for some reason called Northern) Yemen fighters, you might have noticed that they all hold something in their mouths. When the camera focuses on them they push the leaf clump to the side with their tongues loudly declaring Allah akbar, and, by the way, death to America. Old Yemeni men’s cheeks hang flacidly, having used it, like some squirrel, as a cheek pouch for leaves. Leaves of the khat plant, a stimulant that is partly responsible for the alarming dwindling of water in the overpopulated desert country. Khat needs substantial irrigation and its cultivation area has grown 13 fold between 1970 and 2000. Every important issue in Yemen is decided in the afternoon khat rituals. If you do not chew, you are spit out of social life. The whole country is hooked on khat.