Yemen

Yemen on Verge of Collapse? Different Approach, Similar Results

Houthi rebels have stormed the presidential palace in Yemen, also home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

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CNN

Houthi rebels in Sanaa have stormed the presidential palace and Yemen's president has "no control" according to the Information Ministry. The White House has not addressed the situation, and Yemen was dropped as a State of the Union reference this year.

Last September, as President Obama recommitted U.S. troops to Iraq, from where they had been withdrawn less than three years earlier, he promised the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would be different than the 2003-2011 Iraq war. "This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years," President Obama said.

Today, the Yemeni government is on the verge of collapse. In 2011, "Arab Spring" protests started in Yemen after starting in Egypt and Tunisia. Eventually Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen since 1990 and of North Yemen from 1978 until the 1990 unification, was encouraged by regional powers to resign. He was granted immunity by the Yemeni legislature and handed power over to his vice president, Abd Rabbuh Al-Hadi, who won the 2012 election, as the only candidate on the ballot, with 99.8 percent of the official vote.

The U.S. has been conducting covert air strikes in Yemen since at least 2002, when the country was designated part of Operation Enduring Freedom's Afghanistan combat zone. Drone strikes were ramped up during the Obama administration, with the first U.S. citizen, Al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in 2011. His teenaged son, also an American citizen, was killed in a later strike in Yemen. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism confirmed between 13 and 15 drone strikes in 2014, with 3 additional air strikes and 18 more possible drone strikes. The conservative estimate for the number of dead from these strikes is 103, with at least 13 reported as civilians. In December 2013, a U.S. drone strike reportedly hit a wedding procession, killing 12 and injuring 15, including the bride.

When it could, the Yemeni government took responsibility for the air strikes. Where the U.S. government acknowledges involvement in an air strike, it insists the targets are members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). That's impossible to verify, and evidence suggests drone strikes can target enemies of the host governments. "The U.S. increasingly appears to be a acting as a proxy Air Force for Yemen in its civil war with AQAP," Letta Tayler, a terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Rolling Stone.

In last year's State of the Union, President Obama still listed Yemen, and Somalia, and Mali and Iraq, as places where the counterterrorism strategies against "core" Al Qaeda were succeeding. Defeating Al Qaeda, and ending the war in Iraq (which he walked backed when shit started to visibly hit the fan), were two of the main points on which Obama won his second campaign. This year, his campaigns got a mention at the State of the Union but Al Qaeda didn't. Does the president have to address the situation in Yemen? Certainly not. But depending on how things play out on the ground over the next few days, U.S. operations in the country may have to be addressed.

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  1. Yemen on verge of collapse?

    Compared to what? How could you even tell?

    1. Yeah, that headline is probably a little sensationalistic.

      I think it’s sort of like Colombia was in the late ’80s and ’90s, where the Colombian government had control of parts of two or three cities.

      And if government forces were feeling brave, and it seemed safe, they might sometimes venture out of their government controlled enclaves. ….if they were being paid well enough and U.S. forces were accompanying them.

  2. It’s important to remember that in other countries the “president” that the UN recognizes may have never been in control of much.

    This new faction may not get control of much because of their home invasion robbery either.

    So, maybe the Obama Administration loses diplomatic cover for his drone campaign and his pay offs to the faction that controlled the Yemeni government–under the guise of foreign aid.

    http://tinyurl.com/m7cwveg

    In the short term, that may be bad for American security, but in the long term, who knows, maybe it’s a good thing for American security.

  3. Where the U.S. government acknowledges involvement in an air strike, it insists the targets are members of Al Qaeda in the American Peninsula (AQAP).

    Even you writers need to have an edit button.

    1. Foreshadowing!

    2. Obama does claim the right to assassinate American citizens after all.

    3. Well, in his defense, the parties that supposedly control the Arabian Peninsula are on the American government’s payroll. Maybe he’s just decided to stop pretending!

  4. …”Drone strikes were ramped up during the Obama administration, with the first U.S. citizen, Al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in 2011″…

    Has anyone seen the members of the Nobel Peace Prize committee recently?

    1. Recast our bombs in the shape of the Nobel Peace Prize. We’ve always been at war with East Asia.

  5. The Arabs who are not crazy fucks bent on world Jihad are for whatever reason unable to rule and maintain control over the crazy fucks who are. That is really what is going on here. One by one these countries are going to fall under the control of lunatics bent on world Jihad. I am not really seeing what we can do to stop it at this point. We can’t fight these people’s wars for them or run their countries for them.

    We can however fight wars for ourselves. At some point we are going to have to do that and deal with these people. It is just a matter of time.

    1. I think this is sort of like those maps you used to see in grade school of the colonial U.S. or the Roman Empire.

      You know those Colonial maps that show, well, this part is the English colonies, and that part belongs to the French, and that part belongs to the Spanish, etc. Well that area controlled by the French was actually controlled by local Indian tribes, who weren’t any more under the control of the French government than I am.

      Just because somebody drew a border on a political map and called it a country, and just because the faction that cares the most calls themselves “president” so the outside world will consider them legitimate doesn’t mean there’s a government there the way we think of the term, where the government is in control.

      I had a coworker with parents in Yemen. A lot of people in her parents’ neighborhood had their own tanks, and a nice sized security detail on watch 24/7. The government couldn’t make those people show up for a traffic ticket, much less “maintain control” over those people. …certainly not just because “Yemen” shows up on the political maps, and the tough guy calls himself the president.

      1. Some of it is sectarian for sure. But not all of it. Some of it is people who genuinely want an Islamic government that wages aggressive war in pursuit of an Islamic world. If it were just various ethnic groups wanting to have their own countries, it wouldn’t be a very big deal outside of these areas. The problem is that it is a lot more than that. And worse still, people who old an aggressive fascist ideology are using the factional conflicts as an opportunity to take over.

        Iraq is the most artificial country in the region. But even if you split it up properly along sectarian lines, ISIS would still own a huge chunk of it and be bent on taking the rest.

    2. the jihadis are willing to use violence and are able to find martyrs; the sane people have a tougher time with that. I’m not sure it is any deeper than that. Regular folks just want to go about their lives and sometimes, keeping your head down (and literally, keeping your head) is an end unto itself.

      At some point, we likely are going to have to act but if we do, it has to be decisive, it has to be with extreme prejudice, and it has to be willing to piss off timid Euros and others.

      1. It doesn’t matter who is the most popular. What matters is who has the most weapons and willingness to kill and die for their cause. It won’t matter how much the majority hates the Islamists, if the Islamists are the ones with the guns and are most willing to kill and die for their cause. The people of Iran hate the mullahs. But that fact doesn’t mean anything since it is the Mullahs who have the guns and the will to use them.

        1. that’s what I am saying. Your post said the sane ones cannot rule “for whatever reason.” The reason clear – it is the willingness, or lack thereof, to use violence. The sane ones don’t want to do it; they prefer living scared to dying. The crazies will always be crazy.

          1. You are right.

      2. “Regular folks just want to go about their lives and sometimes, keeping your head down (and literally, keeping your head) is an end unto itself.”

        I think the resentment against the U.S. and the president of Yemen for letting the U.S. use drones in their country and being in the pocket of a the U.S. government may be a little more…present.

        Imagine if a U.S. President on the Yemeni payroll let Yemen conduct drone strikes in the U.S. against U.S. citizens, and imagine if the Yemeni government were giving the U.S. President a ton of money and military assistance to go out and kill American enemies of the Yemen in the U.S.

        I would think that would make both the U.S. President and the nation of Yemen enormously unpopular with the American people. It might even destroy any pretense of legitimacy. Who in the world would think of a president that kills his own people on behalf of a foreign government–for pay–as legitimate?

        http://tinyurl.com/3jljwtz

        Like I said, short term, this may be bad news for the War on Terror, but long term, there may be an upside for American security, too.

        1. the US has always and will always be resented by someone for some reason. America did not invent jihadis and while I am not a fan of drone-mania, it did not invent them, either.

          Whoever these sane or moderate Muslims are, the onus is on them if they want life without perpetual terror. I don’t know that they are willing to do the heavy lifting necessary for that. I am not in favor of doing it for them, if for no other reason than our meddling is a nice tool for Islamists to use.

          1. “The US has always and will always be resented by someone for some reason”

            Because the U.S. is paying your president to kill his own people is an especially good reason to resent the U.S.

            “Whoever these sane or moderate Muslims are, the onus is on them if they want life without perpetual terror. I don’t know that they are willing to do the heavy lifting necessary for that.”

            Wars tend to radicalize people. That “you’re either with us or against us” mentality tends to pervade in war zones.

            If the dominant force in Yemen against the terrorists is a politician on the payroll of a foreign government, who not only looks the other way when that foreign government kills Yemenis but also actively seeks kills his own people on America’s behalf, then you’re asking moderates to do a lot more than just hold their noses at the ballot box.

            You know that Orwell quote, “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.”?

            I think that was about the communists in the Spanish Civil War attacking anarchists–both of whom were supposed to be fighting against Franco’s Nazi backed fascists.

            I’d hate to have to choose to fight on the side of socialist-anarchists in that fight–and effectively on behalf of the communists! But I can imagine why good people couldn’t bring themselves to pick a side.

            I can see why moderates in that situation might just choose to go about their lives and mind their own business.

            1. Because the U.S. is paying your president to kill his own people is an especially good reason to resent the U.S.

              Not if those people are evil. They’d still hate us anyways.

        2. Just for the record, I prefer proxy wars if the alternative is something like Iraq–and doing nothing is completely unacceptable.

          But I also understand that if you don’t want to be considered an enemy and the legitimate target of a foreign people, then paying their president to help you kill those people may not be an especially effective means to achieve that goal over the long run.

    3. It should be noted that AQAP and the Houthis hate each other. Maybe our enemies will kill each other.

  6. Light at the End of the Tunnel!
    In a hundred years, will the Jihad War get as many pages in the high school history book as Vietnam?

    1. Sadly, I think it will get a lot more. These people are not going to stop until someone stops them by force. And not just force, but deals enough death that all of the ones who really believe are dead. It is a horrible calculus but sadly probably a true one.

      You never know. Maybe this will pass too. Maybe people will come to their senses and reject all of this madness before they end up picking a fight with the entire civilized world. It is possible. It is also possible that the worst will happen too.

      1. This “whack a mole” until everyone who wants to fight is dead is what finally ended the Indian renegade problem in the American West. A ton of white settlers and white and black cavalrymen died in the process but eventually the Indians ran out of young men willing to die for their cause.
        [This is historical fact, not a commentary on which side was right or wrong in “blowing back.”]

    2. A better question would be if the Jihad War will be over in a hundred years.

      1. That too. Europe was at war with Islam for periods of a lot longer than a hundred years in the past. Europe was more or less in a constant state of war with Islam from Islam’s first rise in the 700s until the 19th Century.

        1. 1492. Important year in Spanish history. Primarily because the last Moslem contolled area was taken over.

          There might have been something else that year too, but nothing big.

          From tours to fall of grenada was 760 years.

          1. And that war continued. The Spanish Habsburgs spent the entire 15th and 16th Centuries fighting the Turks. The Turks were so aggressive that entire regions of Italy because uninhabited out of fear of Turkish galleys showing up and enslaving anyone they found.

            But remember, the Muslims were the victims of evil European imperialism.

            1. But remember, the Muslims were the victims of evil European imperialism.

              I wonder if the proponents of that notion really believe that Muslim powers would have acted more reasonably if they were the ones with the wherewithal to construct such empires. Somehow I doubt any eastern style empires would have been more civilized than Europeans in their treatment of conquered populations.

              In fact all we need to do is look at why it is that populations of African slaves in Middle East have no surviving descendant populations in the region today and you’ll see how humane such societies were relative to those evil Europeans.

          2. Primarily because the last Moslem contolled area was taken over.

            And Spain became a completely uncivilized awful hellhole. Moorish Spain was enlightened and goodly.

      2. Watching statists fight Islamic Jihadists is like watching a tape worm and leech fighting over who is whose host.

      3. Almost certainly. Eventually, they’re going to run up against the Chinese. And the Chinese are going to look at their very existence as an administrative problem.

  7. If, IF, oil prices stay quite low for years, it will tear the guts out of the Islamist movement. There will still be plenty of barbarian nutters, but without oil money, they can’t project their power past the nearest unfortunate goat.

    They can still take over backward crapholes, and likely will, but who really gives a crap (other than the Yemenis) who runs Yemen?

    If oil goes back up, then I think we’re probably looking at more of the gradual escalation of Islamism until it (most likely) gets slapped down very hard. Or wins.

    1. So many bad guys these days are propped up by oil wealth. Cutting them off from the lucre is of the things that makes the possibility of a energy breakthrough so appealing, even beyond the huge economic benefits of cheap energy.

      1. and yet, the West – the US, in particular – seems to actively resist cutting them off. This country is awash in energy resources, natural resources as I like to remind the enviros. But using them gets more opposition that support.

        North Dakota has produced in spite of govt, not because of it. Something as self-evident as Keystone remains unapproved. How long since an oil refinery or nuclear plant was built here? Those bad guys in the oil nations are not just propped by their money, but also by our govt’s attitude.

        1. True enough. The government seems scared of the consequences of cheaper energy, well beyond just the environmental concerns. I’m not sure I completely understand why.

          1. I would guess it’s because cheap energy leads to freedom and prosperity, while expensive energy causes the sheeple to demand that government “Do something.”

        2. I hope Argentina can shape up and get drilling. The gas fields they have are unbelievably vast. The good news is that Mexico is definitely going to produce more oil soon.

      2. Or maybe a good start would be emphasizing oil purchases from places like Canada instead of Saudi Arabia.

        1. Oil is fungible. Doesn’t matter who you buy it from.

          1. Well I don’t see how that is when oil comes in different grades and qualities and the producers pay taxes to different governments et cetera.

            1. If we buy our oil from Canada instead of Saudi Arabia, then those customers we displaced will just buy their oil from Saudi Arabia. It doesn’t matter.

              1. Displaced customers, fair enough those ‘displaced customers’ can spend their money on OPEC oil, that’s fine. But the fact remains that we would be better off wrapping our economic interests with that of Canada rather than a clandestinely hostile foreign government like the Saudi’s. I know the ole maxim that “when goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will” but in the case of a commodity like oil and countries like Saudi Arabia or Libya I don’t think we’re better off being more dependent on their government’s good will (and that of the terrorists they support) rather than less dependent. Nor will increased economic ties to that irrational region do anything to stem soldiers crossing borders.

                And lest I forget to mention the moral reasoning behind not buying oil that will directly finance the next suicide bombing.

                1. The Saudi oil is going to be purchased no matter what. And like oil, money is also fungible. So it really doesn’t matter who buys what from whom. From an emotional standpoint I can see what you are saying, but from an economic viewpoint it’s pretty ignorant. No offense.

                  1. The Saudi oil is going to be purchased no matter what.

                    By someone else yes.

                    And like oil, money is also fungible. So it really doesn’t matter who buys what from whom.

                    Oil is not fungible. Some oil is better suited for use in plastics, some oil is better suited as lubricant, some oil is better suited as gasoline et cetera. Fiat money is however fungible, yes.

                    but from an economic viewpoint it’s pretty ignorant. No offense.

                    Ha. You didn’t actually address the point. I never said others wouldn’t buy Saudi oil, I said our interests would be better served by placing our oil dependency outside of the middle east and OPEC as much as possible. That’s not even an economic argument, it’s a geopolitical one.

                    1. it’s a geopolitical one.

                      Being that most things political are economically ignorant, I rest my case.

                    2. After all that dodging you deserve a rest. Good job.

                    3. Oil dependence? What the fuck does that mean? Once oil is put onto a tanker, it doesn’t matter where it came from. The tanker will sail to whomever wants to buy it. Refusing to buy what’s on the tanker because it came from Saudi Arabia simply means it will sail somewhere else. The Saudi’s don’t care. The oil has already been purchased. There is no advantage at all in choosing Canadian oil over Saudi oil. None.

                    4. After all that dodging you deserve a rest. Good job.

                      Smug and ignorant. You’d make a fine progressive.

    2. I believe the price of oil is going to go up and down without stabilizing. Here’s why. When the price goes up, then expensive drilling operations become profitable. When the price goes down then they are not. So when the price is low, there is no incentive to drill in places where it is expensive to get the oil out. This will eventually cause supply to drop since there will be fewer new oil fields being exploited. That resulting drop in supply will cause the price to rise, creating an incentive to drill more. This will cause supply to rise, lowering the price, resulting in fewer new drilling operations. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    3. Yes. The easiest thing we can do to fight them is to drill everywhere possible and pump as much oil as possible. You can make a very strong argument that our national security demands that we not only allow drilling everywhere but also subsidize it such that our oil production overwhelms the world market sinking the price of oil.

      Instead, our President is bent on doing anything he can to get oil prices back up. Either he is stupid or he is on the other side. Regardless, the result is the same.

      1. it’s not just Obama; it’s much of the constituency he represents. These people remain stuck on retard – sustainable, renewable, green, and other buzzy buzzwords. Fossil fuels are as much a natural resource as wind is. As an experiment, tell them that and watch their brains nearly explode.

        Fracking has happened for generations but only now, when it has advanced to doing things that were heretofore impossible, have the enviros switched sides to oppose natural gas. The ironically-named progressives oppose human progress but unless that malicious truth has a voice, nothing changes.

      2. Either he is stupid or he is on the other side.

        The two are not mutually exclusive.

        1. Yes. He very well might be both. He is clearly stupid. The only debate is over which side he is on.

      3. That, and if the Saudi oil fields were mysteriously destroyed and the one major source of cheap oil taken out of the equation.

    4. I’m afraid that the fighting and killing wouldn’t end even if the jihadis win. They would then fight amongst themselves.

    5. who really gives a crap (other than the Yemenis) who runs Yemen?

      How important is the Suez Canal nowadays, and to whom? I think answering those questions will answer yours.

    6. This. Saudi Arabia is a jihad factory fuelled by oil money. They fund madrases that teach people to hate us for our freedoms.

      1. They fund madrases that teach people to hate us for our freedoms.

        That old canard needs to die. They have many reasons to hate us, both rational and irrational (mostly irrational). But I don’t think my ‘freedoms’ whatever those are, make the top 10.

  8. Neither America nor Israel have ever done wrong to the Houthis. Guess what the Houthi motto is? ‘Death to America death to Israel’. ‘Blowback’ for…existing. Fuck these people. OTOH, I am now pretty sure Sheldon Richman is a Houthi.

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