Yemen

Yemen Falls Out of U.S. Counterterrorism Menagerie

Coming civil war could lead to favorable environment for Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

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CNN

This week saw the last of the U.S. special operations forces station in Yemen evacuate that country. The United Nations envoy to the country warned that Yemen was on the verge of civil war. But rebels dissolved the parliament and took over the capital almost two month ago.

For President Obama and Democrats interested in prosecuting the war on terror with a "light" footprint, Yemen was supposed to be the archetype for other U.S. counterterrorism engagements around the world. Just last September, as Obama recommitted U.S. troops to Iraq—when the U.S. was already having to broker ceasefires between government forces and rebels in Yemen—he pointed to the country as the model for the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The experts now say Yemen was never an example of a success, because it didn't involve nationbuilding. The AP reports:

Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, said even the most optimistic regional experts did not share Obama's view that the Yemen campaign was a model of success.

"It was being defined in terms of what we were doing to develop local forces and use drones and counter the immediate and real security threat," said Bodine, now director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. "But what we hadn't done, certainly had not done visibly enough, was get at the economic and governance issues that were driving the problem."

U.S. troops and other personnel have been in Afghanistan for more than 13 years—when she was secretary of state Hillary Clinton oversaw a "surge" in diplomatic staff for nationbuilding—yet the same kind of "economic and governance issues" are driving the problem in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is keeping about 10,000 troops until at least the end of this year despite the official end to the war last year. The extended stay isn't coupled with any anti-Taliban plan beyond the training and targeting that's been happening for at least the last five years.

In Yemen, the ousted president and his forces are set to face off with the rebel forces now in charge of the country, and Al Qaeda—the U.S.'s putative target in Yemen lo these many years—and ISIS are expected by to exploit a chaos some fear will be the worse since the last civil war 20 years ago. How much the U.S. campaign in the country contributed to the situation it is hard to say, but Al Qaeda and its associated forces appear on the verge of having an easier time in Yemen now than at any time since before the campaign began—a sadly familiar pattern for U.S. military excursions in the Muslim world, under Presidents Bush and Obama.

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  1. I have an idea: how about a fence?

    1. We can try it, but I doubt there’s much demand for Yemen on the black market.

      1. Yemen is still among the biggest drivers of the demand curve in the black market.

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  2. The situation in Yemen is almost as fucked up as Reason pulling the Jeremiah True article that was just posted and then disappeared as I was getting ready to comment.

    1. For lack of an edit feature, a war was lost.

      Thank you for reposting the article reason.

  3. It’s kind of weird how it seems to have disappeared down the memory hole that Yemen was split into two countries–north and south–during the Cold War. This split seems to be reemerging.

    1. Good. America should make friends with South Yemen. They and the Kurds will make two new buddies for America. Just hope they aren’t so Marxy this time.

  4. Remember that article bout the Nevada cops that kicked some people out of their homes so they could ‘gain a tactical advantage’ over some criminals in a neighboring house (July 2011).

    Turns out the SC has ruled.

    http://scholar.google.com/scho…..i=scholarr

    Well, the Third Amendment claim has been disallowed. Wrongly, in my most emphatically not a lawyer opinion, because the judge very narrowly construes ‘soldier’ to only mean ‘member of the armed forces’ (and, properly, recognizes that police are *not* military by that definition) while, during the writing of the constitution there was basically no police as we know them today – a good chunk of law enforcement (and most of the worst abuses) were perpetrated by soldiers acting in a law enforcement capacity.

    In any case, by saying that the Third does not apply, it leaves open the door for ‘takings’ by local police forces in the name of supporting law enforcement activities.

    Personally, I think the judge should have erred on the side of *greater* liberty and ruled that, even though its not explicitly spelled out, people have the right to not have state agents commandeer their stuff or labor to support state activities.

    1. But that runs counter to accepted jurisprudence which is to decide as little as you can get away with.

      And I suppose it causes problems for conscription (which should be abolished anyway) and forcing people into posses (and *that* coercion should be abolished anyway – if you can’t get the people to voluntarily help you enforce a law, then maybe you shouldn’t have that law).

      But I always did think the Third was a long shot. Some are talking about how it should have been a 4th amendment claim – I think that’s even weaker. There’s the cops trying to use evidence obtained while possessing the residence – which didn’t happen so this would have also been dismissed, the only good issue here is whether or not a judge would have the authority to write a warrant authorizing the possession. And I think posse laws would (again, wrongly) allow this.

      The best cause, IMO, would be a 5th amendment ‘takings’ cause. The officers coercively took possession of the home for an indeterminate (meaning they didn’t know how long this would take – they ended up there for 9 hours) time – the owners are due compensation for this.

    2. (and, properly, recognizes that police are *not* military by that definition)

      Wait, you mean cops are civilians too?!

      1. Yup. Always referred to them as the “civilian police” when I was in the Army.

  5. But what we hadn’t done, certainly had not done visibly enough, was get at the economic and governance issues that were driving the problem.

    But no worries, the West will just install another corrupt kleptocrat, so all will be fine in no time.

  6. I’m curious and haven’t kept up apparently, but is Al-Qaeda even a thing anymore? It seems like the only time I hear them mentioned is when some pundit or politician is trying to stoke fears. I can’t think of anything they’ve actually done beyond getting drone struck for some time. All the popular jihadi kids seem to be choosing ISIS. What have I missed?

    1. Obama killed Al Queda when he personally assassinated bin Laden with his bare hands. The problem is that he buried them north of the wall and the White Priviledge Scott Walkers resurrected them in order to fight an eternal struggle to the death with ISIS.

    2. My impression is that, beyond the handful of high-level guys hiding out in Pakistan, it’s mostly down to which label the local jihadist groups want to associate with. I think that was always the case. Al Qaeda was intentionally set up not to have a strong central focus, and this has made it hard for them to keep the local yokels interested now that Osama is sleeping with the fishes.

      And yes, it seems like Al Qaeda’s brand marketing to those shitbags has fallen on hard times.

      1. AQAP is still very active and seems to take direction from the center of AQ.

    3. “Al Qaeda” is now one the “moderate” rebel groups we’re trying to ally with against ISIS.

      1. This is, seriously, a real thing. Even Al-Qaeda is all ‘duuuude, chill out’ to the ISIS guys.

        1. IIRC, we tried to get some Al Qaeda guy we had had in Guantanamo to negotiate for the release of some American hostage. They killed him, and then they killed the hostages.

    4. AQ is definitely a thing as its body count attests to. See also, ‘Nusra Front’.

  7. May I safely assume that Obama’s strategy of drone warfare, military trainers, and spec ops didn’t work in the “model of success” (Yemen)? That foreign policy amateur hour (complete with bloopers) continues on at the White House undisturbed? That Iran will likely delay or cut a deal that gives them plenty of room to develop a nuclear weapon while Obama gets into a slap-fight with Netanyahu?

    1. Hogwash.

      The Obama strategy has been proven successful everywhere it’s been tried: Libya, Yemen, and Iraq have all had Islamists seize control over vast portions of the respective countries. Obama knows he’s getting termed out of the presidency soon, so he’s got his eye on one of two future gigs: UN Sec Gen or Caliph. Based on his track record, he’d make the perfect Caliph.

      1. I’ve never been a follower of the “Obama is a secret Muslim” theory. But if I were judge him purely by the results his middle east policy, I would have a hard time arguing against it.

    2. The unraveling of the existing states in the Middle East is only marginally related to what the USA is doing or not doing. Our influence in Syria, Libya and Yemen is relatively minimal. The cats are simply refusing to be herded any longer.

      1. The unraveling of the existing states in the Middle East is only marginally related to what the USA is doing or not doing.

        Mmm-hmm.

        Our influence in Syria, Libya and Yemen is relatively minimal.

        Yeah, sure.

        The cats are simply refusing to be herded any longer.

        And yet, Obama and the boys at Foggy Bottom insist that the sandbox rodeo continue.

        1. These things have been coming for decades. The entire post-WWII order in the Middle East and Africa was predicated on colonial boundaries that have no correlation with the reality on the ground. Couple that with the strongly tribal nature of many of those societies, and widespread chaos was probably inevitable at some point.

          I’d say the US acted more like a catalyst than a cause in this regard.

          1. I’d say the US acted more like a catalyst than a cause in this regard.

            A $500 million (at least) catalyst.

            When the English played the game of empire in the Middle East, they at least had the sense to play the tribals off against each other while hiding their hands. The U.S. just throws money and guns to whoever claims they are on our side, then are shocked and aghast when it turns out they lied, or worse, they lost.

          2. He wants to blame America. The peacenazis always rationalize a way to blame America.

            1. The peacenazis….

              Never stop being hilarious.

              1. Funny cuz it’s true.

                1. Well, I think it asinine. It is the other side of the “chickenhawk” coin.

                  Now, go ahead, and question my motives and credibility and personal investment in the GWOT.

      2. While I agree with your analogy, to an extent, the cats aren’t simply choosing to not be herded – they are actively rebelling against the herding we (and other western nations) have done for a long time.

        Still, no matter how you look at it, the best response is probably to just walk away until the cats calm the fuck down.

        1. Or kill each other off.

        2. they are actively rebelling against the herding we (and other western nations) have done for a long time.

          Very inaccurate characterization. Western nations really haven’t imposed much on the ME. Western nations even let them nationalize ie steal oil from their companies and fund terror. Further, it is impossible to consider this internecine strife as some kind of rebellion against an externally imposed force.

          the best response is probably to just walk away until the cats calm the fuck down.

          Not if they try to hurt us in the meantime. AQAP still is. They need to be targeted. The rest can go kill each other off.

    3. May I safely assume that Obama’s strategy of drone warfare, military trainers, and spec ops didn’t work in the “model of success” (Yemen)?

      It worked fairly well. Then Iran instigated a Houthi uprising.

      1. It would seem to me that if the strategy was ‘working well’ (rather than simply inflaming and then burying smoldering hatreds in a cover of violence) then the Iranian’s *wouldn’t* have been able to instigate an uprising.

        1. That doesn’t even begin to make sense. You want America’s anti-AQ strategy to now cure an entire nation’s various pathologies? You want nation-building? There is no evidence America contributed to the Houthis various grievances or that they’d be any less Iran-supported without America, and no reason to think America is responsible for making Yemen better for them.

          1. There is no evidence America contributed to the Houthis various grievances…

            Except for that whole “training and arming the Yemeni soldiers shooting at them” thing. Not a legitmate grievance at all.

            1. For him, *nothing* we do is ever *directly* responsible for someone’s response, and if we’re not *directly* responsible then we’re completely blameless.

          2. No, I simply don’t think our policy of ‘bomb the hell out of anyone who looks at us cross-eyed’ is ‘working well’ in the area of ‘reducing the number of people who want to kill us’.

            Mainly it seems to be designed so the buckling constant is 1.

      2. Cyto, the Houthi have been fighting the Yemeni government since 2004. And the allegation that the Houthis are rebelling in the name of Ali Abdullah Selah is likely false as they initiated their rebellion whil he was president and they opposed him getting immunity for crimes committed during his 33 years in the army and as President.

        1. Wrong.

          Saleh, Houthis in control of Yemeni military: ex-minister

          http://www.aawsat.net/2015/03/…..x-minister

          Yes, Saleh and the Houthis fought each other. Now they fight together. Alliances shift.

          1. Cool story, bro.

            Former president Saleh has been accused of allying with the Houthis to oust successor Hadi, while his son Ahmed Saleh previously served as commander of Yemen’s powerful Republican Guard forces. Yemeni protesters held a rally in Sana’a on Friday calling for presidential elections and backing Ahmed Saleh for president, local media reported.

            Get back to me when the man himself actually makes the claim or Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, you know, the guy at the head of the insurgency (who Saleh tried to arrest AND put a bounty on) says “yeah, sure, we’re trying to put Saleh back in power because, you know, we’re all one big happy Shia family.”

  8. Yet another casualty of the “Arab Spring”.

    1. Not really. The Arab Spring replaced Saleh with Hadi, and that was a solid improvement. The Houthi rebellion is a separate event that Saleh is using to get back in power.

  9. Al Qaeda and its associated forces appear on the verge of having an easier time in Yemen now than at any time since before the campaign began

    You do not know that. AQ took over multiple towns during the anti-Saleh uprising. Somehow, I doubt domination of Yemen by Houthis are bitter enemies of AQ will lead to an easy time for AQAP.

    a sadly familiar pattern for U.S. military excursions in the Muslim world, under Presidents Bush and Obama.

    Not in Somalia, which is simply a an anti-AQ success, and Yemen’s problems have nothing to do with America’s successful anti-AQ campaign. Afghanistan is also not ‘easier’ for AQ. Could Ed please give accuracy and honesty a try in these kinds of articles?

  10. The experts now say Yemen was never an example of a success, because it didn’t The experts now say Yemen was never an example of a success, because it didn’t involve nationbuilding.

    And, if it *had* involved nationbuilding, the experts would say Yemen was never an example of a success, because it didn’t involve *enough* nationbuilding.

  11. My understanding of Yemen is that it’s a patch of desert with a barely functional government, which made it a prime training ground for AQ and such. If their barely functional government is in the shambles, there must be people taking advantage of it. At least they’ve got Saudi Arabia between them and ISIS.

    1. At least they’ve got Saudi Arabia between them and ISIS.

      I think you can gauge the problem with that from this map

    2. My understanding of Yemen is that it is more like a well-manicured mustache that is getting prepared to marry its first cousin. Their children will either resemble a barely functional government in a patch of desert. Or they will resemble an inbred brambleberry bush.

  12. ugh its middle east counter terrorism amateur hour in this thread. im going to do what the US should do in the ME: leave and wait for it to die.

  13. Yememi women are hot. Some of them. One, any way, her name was… something… with a Yemeni last name.

    /Talked a little too much, though.

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