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Thread: Yemen: all you want (2011-2015)

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    Default The Conflicts in Yemen and U.S. National Security

    The Conflicts in Yemen and U.S. National Security

    Entry Excerpt:

    The Conflicts in Yemen and U.S. National Security by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill, U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute.

    Yemen is not currently a failed state, but it is experiencing huge political and economic problems that can have a direct impact on U.S. interests in the region. It has a rapidly expanding population with a resource base that is limited and already leaves much of the current population in poverty. The government obtains around a third of its budget revenue from sales of its limited and declining oil stocks, which most economists state will be exhausted by 2017. Yemen also has critical water shortages and a variety of interrelated security problems. In Sa’ada province in Yemen’s northern mountainous region, there has been an intermittent rebellion by Houthi tribesmen (now experiencing a cease-fire) who accuse the government of discrimination and other actions against their Zaydi Shi’ite religious sect. In southern Yemen, a powerful independence movement has developed which is mostly nonviolent but is increasingly angry and confrontational.
    More recently, Yemen has emerged as one of the most important theaters for the struggle against al-Qaeda. Yemen is among the worst places on earth to cede to al-Qaeda in this struggle, but it is also an especially distrustful and wary nation in its relationship with Western nations and particularly the United States. All of these problems are difficult to address because the central government has only limited capacity to extend its influence into tribal areas beyond the capital and major cities. The United States must therefore do what it can to support peaceful resolutions of Yemen’s problems with the Houthis and Southern Movement while continuing to assist the government’s struggle against al-Qaeda forces in Yemen. It must further pursue these policies in ways that avoid provoking a backlash among the Yemeni population which will not tolerate significant numbers of U.S. combat troops in Yemen.
    The Conflicts in Yemen and U.S. National Security.



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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Yemen: all you want (2011-2015)

    President Saleh abandoned by his own tribe

    SANAA, Yemen – The U.S.-backed president of Yemen suffered a devastating political blow on Sunday when his own powerful tribe demanded his resignation, joining religious leaders, young people and the country's traditional opposition in calls for an end to his three decades in power.

    Massive crowds flooded cities and towns around the impoverished and volatile nation, screaming in grief and anger as they mourned dozens of protesters killed Friday when President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security forces opened fire from rooftops on a demonstration in the capital.

    Saleh appeared to be trying to hold on, firing his entire Cabinet ahead of what one government official said was a planned mass resignation, but making no mention of stepping down himself. Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations and its human rights minister had announced their resignations earlier in the day.

    Experts said that Saleh, who has cooperated closely with U.S. military operations against his country's branch of al-Qaida, had lost the support of every major power base in Yemen except the military ...
    Interesting that the collapse in Saleh's support has come about due to indiscriminate violence on the part of regime supporters. Makes a remarkable contrast with the situation in Bahrain.

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    The Hashid is a tribal confederation not a tribe per se. It's leader and member tribes have on many occasions in the past "abandoned" Saleh only to renegotiate their government largesse. Salih's own tribe is the Sanhan (IIRC) and he was ften mocked (when I was there) for comming from a Zaidi background.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    And now the Army is abandoning Saleh.

    The editor from the Yemen Post is on al-Jazeera saying that this is part of a negotiated deal to form a national emergency government which will allow Saleh to step down peacefully.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Moderator's Note

    There is a previous thread on Yemen, 'Yemen - a catch all thread for 2010' which was started in 2010 and has the background to the current events:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9328

    I have also moved the new thread to the Middle East area of Conflicts, where IMHO it sits better.
    davidbfpo

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    The end of Saleh will not be the end of Yemen, or the end of Yemen's problems. New chapter, maybe, but I suspect that it will read much like the last one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    The end of Saleh will not be the end of Yemen, or the end of Yemen's problems. New chapter, maybe, but I suspect that it will read much like the last one.
    So long as Saudi Arabia is broken, Yemen will be broken as well. I think too often we see fixing problems in Yemen as the key to solving problems in Saudi Arabia. I would argue that it is the other way around. It is only once the Saudi government has committed to the substantive and reasonable reforms desired by the moderate majority of their populace that we will see an end to the disruptive presence in Yemen of their radical minority.

    It is this backward thinking by the US that has had us piling on more and more capacity building and CT efforts in Yemen over the past several years. We attack the symptoms.

    Hopefully Yemen can begin a transition as well to a government that is more responsive to its populace; but with the Saudi problem looming over them, they will never be able to find true stability. As to AQ? They are just Eddie Haskell, conducting UW and stirring up trouble. The AQ problem will fade as well once these governance issues finally either evolve or revolve. Which one occurs is really up to the government. If they continue to refuse the first, the people will force the second upon them.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    So long as Saudi Arabia is broken, Yemen will be broken as well.
    I'n not sure Saudi Arabia is "broken", unless we define "broken" as having a government we don't approve of. Certainly they have problems, but if having problems is being 'broken" there's a whole lot of broken countries out there, ours among them. Yemen is certainly "broken", using the traditional definition of broken = dysfunctional.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I think too often we see fixing problems in Yemen as the key to solving problems in Saudi Arabia. I would argue that it is the other way around.
    Who is saying that? I don't see any causative relation either way. You could say that Yemen's instability is a problem for Saudi Arabia, but to say that Saudi Arabia's problems stem from instability in Yemen would be absurd. Saudi Arabia has a range of problems, most of them not connected in any way to Yemen. Yemen has a rather graver range of problems, most not connected in any way to Saudi Arabia. If we could wave a magic wand and transform Saudi Arabia into a functioning democracy, Yemen would still be what it is, and the other way round.

    In any event we can't "fix" either of them, which makes the discussion fairly academic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    It is only once the Saudi government has committed to the substantive and reasonable reforms desired by the moderate majority of their populace that we will see an end to the disruptive presence in Yemen of their radical minority.
    I don't think anyone here is in a position to speak for the moderate majority of Saudi Arabia, or for that matter any portion of Saudi Arabia. I think we'd find that there's a fair diversity of opinion in there, and one of the few things most everyone would agree on is that they don't want Americans messing in their internal affairs.

    Yemen's problems aren't caused by Saudi Arabia's radical minority, or any other radical minority. Yemen is a seething mass of ethnic, sectarian and clan conflict with no clear concept of national direction or even nationhood and no cohesive "populace". Radicals may be able to exploit that situation to gain refuge and some influence, but they didn't create or cause that situation and if the radicals were no more, Yemen would still be what it is. We just wouldn't notice or care.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Hopefully Yemen can begin a transition as well to a government that is more responsive to its populace.
    Unlikely, not least because there is no unitary "its populace" and the various populaces involved have no unified idea of what they want government to be... or even if they want to be part of "Yemen".

    Repetitive, I know... but we can't "fix" either Yemen or Saudi Arabia, and shouldn't try.

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    Saudis prepare to abandon troublesome Yemen, By Abeer Allam in Riyadh and Roula Khalaf in London, Published: March 22 2011 20:39 | Last updated: March 22 2011 20:39 at Financial Times

    Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has turned to neighbour Saudi Arabia to mediate an end to a crisis that he himself has warned could turn into a “civil war” now that pivotal members of the military have defected.

    But, if the strongman who has ruled over Yemen for 32 years is hoping for Saudi backing, analysts say he is likely to be disappointed.

    Saudi Arabia would like to see a quick and smooth transition of power in Yemen, where Mr Saleh has been clinging to power in spite of weeks of protests and the dramatic narrowing of his support base, say analysts close to the government in Riyadh. And the kingdom is now concerned that the situation could devolve into a Libyan scenario in which Mr Saleh uses his presidential guards against the people and the army, transforming a revolt against the regime into a civil war.
    Osama Nogali, Saudi foreign ministry spokesman, stressed on Tuesday that it was the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council that was mediating in the Yemen crisis.

    “The kingdom is keen on consultations between all parties within the GCC frame and will not act unilaterally. Yemen is the GCC’s immediate neighbour and stability in Yemen is very important to the stability of the Arabian Peninsula.’’
    Sapere Aude

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    President Saleh warns of risk of civil war in Yemen, Mohammed al Qadhi, Last Updated: Mar 23, 2011, The National

    Hundreds of military leaders, businessmen, MPs, diplomats and government officials declared their support of the youth-led revolution after the defection on Monday of Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, the commander of the army's 1st Armoured Division.

    Troops from the Republican Guards, an elite army regiment led by Mr Saleh's son, Ahmed, seized control of the air force base in the western province of Hodiedah after its commander, Ahmed al Sanahani, pledged his support to the anti-Saleh protesters, local media reported yesterday.

    In a televised speech, during a meeting with military leaders yesterday, Mr Saleh, 69, said that commanders who had joined the protest movement should "return to reason" and avoid opening divisions within the army.
    "The people are armed and nobody can twist the arm of the other. The time of coups has gone. You have to come back, there is a chance to come back and apologise," Mr Saleh said.
    Earlier this month, he rejected an opposition plan for a smooth exit by the end of the year and announced plans to draft a new constitution with a parliamentary system. All offers have been rejected by the opposition and protesters who have stuck to their demand that he step down immediately.

    Yesterday, Mr Saleh offered to move his resignation to January, after a parliamentary election.
    Mr Sabri said the offer was not enough and that protesters would march to the palace on Friday.

    "The man [Saleh] is politically dead and his words are deadlier. Talking about political deals and initiatives now is impossible after more than 150 people were killed and 2,000 wounded," Mr Sabri said.
    France became the first Western power to call publicly for Mr Saleh to stand down. Its foreign minister, Alain Juppé, yesterday described Mr Saleh's departure as "unavoidable".
    Sapere Aude

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'n not sure Saudi Arabia is "broken", unless we define "broken" as having a government we don't approve of. Certainly they have problems, but if having problems is being 'broken" there's a whole lot of broken countries out there, ours among them. Yemen is certainly "broken", using the traditional definition of broken = dysfunctional.



    Who is saying that? I don't see any causative relation either way. You could say that Yemen's instability is a problem for Saudi Arabia, but to say that Saudi Arabia's problems stem from instability in Yemen would be absurd. Saudi Arabia has a range of problems, most of them not connected in any way to Yemen. Yemen has a rather graver range of problems, most not connected in any way to Saudi Arabia. If we could wave a magic wand and transform Saudi Arabia into a functioning democracy, Yemen would still be what it is, and the other way round.

    In any event we can't "fix" either of them, which makes the discussion fairly academic.



    I don't think anyone here is in a position to speak for the moderate majority of Saudi Arabia, or for that matter any portion of Saudi Arabia. I think we'd find that there's a fair diversity of opinion in there, and one of the few things most everyone would agree on is that they don't want Americans messing in their internal affairs.

    Yemen's problems aren't caused by Saudi Arabia's radical minority, or any other radical minority. Yemen is a seething mass of ethnic, sectarian and clan conflict with no clear concept of national direction or even nationhood and no cohesive "populace". Radicals may be able to exploit that situation to gain refuge and some influence, but they didn't create or cause that situation and if the radicals were no more, Yemen would still be what it is. We just wouldn't notice or care.



    Unlikely, not least because there is no unitary "its populace" and the various populaces involved have no unified idea of what they want government to be... or even if they want to be part of "Yemen".

    Repetitive, I know... but we can't "fix" either Yemen or Saudi Arabia, and shouldn't try.
    "Broken" as in they have a government their populace does not approve of. WE like it just fine. Not all of the populace obviously, but Yemen is the convenient sanctuary the active insurgent element takes refuge in, (those who are not among the thousands languishing in Saudi prisons waiting to be "de-radicalized) and why AQ comes to Yemen conducting UW there, as the demise of the Saudi regime remains bin Laden's top priority.

    Yemen has its own problems, but it will always share Saudi's problems as well in this regard. The Saudis would, I am sure, have us wage agressive CT against their nationalist insurgents hiding in Yemen in the name of the war on terrorism. Such engagement reduces the pressure on the Saudis, but increases the reasons why these same men travel to attack America as well. We are being played by all of these guys who know very well how to leverage our fear of oil disruption and terrorism in the US to get us to do what is the exact opposite of what we should be doing to get at the roots of this problem.

    But no one said anything about "fixing" anyone. Our problem stems from supporting governments the local populace perceives to be broken and beyond their control.

    But hey, it's always interesting to see how my comments can be twisted and taken places I surely never imagined. I am sure these will come back well-twisted as well.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Yemen president's ouster could deal U.S. huge setbacks, By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2011, 4:29 p.m.

    Yemen strategically borders the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and Saudi Arabia. If Saleh is overthrown civil wars could erupt in both north and south, the Saudis would be rattled and possibly intervene militarily, Iran would almost surely exploit the chaos and the U.S. would be dealt a major setback in containing Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an entrenched terrorist affiliate.

    The drought-prone, poverty-stricken country, with oil tankers skimming its coast and pirates plying its waters, has over the years been largely neglected by the outside world. But with Saleh's government on the verge of collapse, Washington is focusing on the multiplying dangers that could turn the country into an ungovernable haven for militants and a proxy for struggles between regional powers.
    The U.S. and other Western powers are not particularly fond of Saleh, who has ruled with a with an authoritarian swagger for 32 years and allowed for no potential successors outside his corrupt inner circle. But like the recently toppled presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, he has been an ally, although at times a reluctant one, in battling Islamic militants and keeping a semblance of order at the turbulent intersection of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
    There is also concern over the religious passions of whoever succeeds Saleh. A leading candidate is Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsin Saleh Ahmar, the country's most powerful military commander, who defected to the protesters Monday. He is sympathetic to radical political Islam and may embolden the country's fundamentalist clerics.
    Islamic militants are only part of Yemen's problems. The secessionist movement in the south, driven by communists, socialists and opportunistic tribesmen, threatens to split the country in half. Since Yemen was stitched back together after the 1994 civil war, the south has sought to break from Saleh. Rebel fighters have their own flag emblazoned on their rifle stocks.
    The atmosphere remains precarious in the north, where years of intermittent fighting between government troops and Houthi rebels have left hundreds dead, destroyed villages and forced more than 300,000 people from their homes. The rebels, who belong to a Shiite Muslim offshoot, have long complained of economic discrimination. The struggle is not over religion, but Sunni Muslim-run Saudi Arabia has accused Shiite-controlled Iran of aiding the insurrection.
    Sapere Aude

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    "Broken" as in they have a government their populace does not approve of. WE like it just fine.
    Again, nobody here speaks for the Saudi populace or any portion thereof.

    Who is the "we" in "we like it just fine"? The US has been expressing discomfort and disapproval for the Saudi's human rights record, treatment of women, etc, ad infinitum for a long time. Of course the Saudis don't give a damn and it's not like we can change any of it.

    What we do or do not "like" is irrelevant. The Saudi government exists, and we can't change it, so we deal with it. What else are we going to do? We don't sustain it or enable it to oppress its people, but as in so many other places (China, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, etc), we've little choice but to deal with what's there. The Saudis are not exactly a US client and we have exactly zero leverage over their internal policies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Not all of the populace obviously, but Yemen is the convenient sanctuary the active insurgent element takes refuge in, (those who are not among the thousands languishing in Saudi prisons waiting to be "de-radicalized)
    Add up the most charitable estimate of the Saudi radical presence in Yemen and the political prisoners in Saudi jails, and what percentage of the Saudi populace do you have? If that's "the problem" for the Saudi government, they're in pretty good shape.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    We are being played by all of these guys who know very well how to leverage our fear of oil disruption and terrorism in the US to get us to do what is the exact opposite of what we should be doing to get at the roots of this problem.
    In practical, specific terms, what should we be doing to "get at the roots of this problem"? What should we do, that is, that would have any realistic chance of accomplishing anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But hey, it's always interesting to see how my comments can be twisted and taken places I surely never imagined. I am sure these will come back well-twisted as well.
    Practical, specific suggestions are difficult to twist. From your earlier post:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    So long as Saudi Arabia is broken, Yemen will be broken as well. I think too often we see fixing problems in Yemen as the key to solving problems in Saudi Arabia. I would argue that it is the other way around.
    You refer quite specifically to "fixing problems in Yemen".

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    It is only once the Saudi government has committed to the substantive and reasonable reforms desired by the moderate majority of their populace that we will see an end to the disruptive presence in Yemen of their radical minority.
    Again, whether this is true or not (and again, we don't know and shouldn't assume that we know what anyone in Saudi Arabia wants), it remains true that we cannot compel or persuade the Saudi government to commit to anything, least of all changes in their form of government.

    How is that twisting anything?

    This whole link to Saudi Arabia seems to me only very marginally relevant: Yemen has a huge crop of problems that have nothing to do with Saudi Arabia or Saudi radicals. The use of Yemen as a refuge for Saudi radicals is a consequence of Yemen's chaos, not a cause.

    What can we do about Yemen? Nothing much, to put it simply. No point in trying to keep Saleh in power, and we don't seem to be doing that. We'll probably see who comes after, and try to deal with whatever mess emerges. Fairly safe to predict that there will be one.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Yemeni president nears deal to resign - WSJ

    Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the country's top general are hashing out a political settlement in which both men would resign from their positions within days in favor of a civilian-led transitional government, according to three people familiar with the situation.
    The outlines of that peaceful transition emerged amid rising tension over the standoff between the President Saleh and Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who earlier this week broke ranks and declared his support for the array of protesters demanding that the president step down immediately.

    Opposing tanks from units loyal to Mr. Saleh and to Gen. Ahmar have faced off in the streets of San'a all week and tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators continued their vigil in the capital's Change Square.

    The people familiar with the negotiations said Thursday that Mr. Saleh and Gen. Ahmar are intent on preventing bloodshed and preserving stability in the Arabian Peninsula nation. Aides to both men said that while they both understand that Mr. Saleh's continued rule is untenable, they have agreed that the timing of his resignation can't happen until they have worked out the details of a transitional governing council that would take his place. They hope to have a detailed plan ready by Saturday, the people said ...

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    Hey Tequila,

    Back at ya

    Britain pulls embassy staff from Yemen, By Jack Farchy and Javier Blas in London, Published: March 23 2011 22:54 | Last updated: March 23 2011 23:50, at the FT

    “In light of the rapid deterioration in the security situation in Yemen and the high risk of increased tension in Sana’a and likely protests on Friday 25 March, which might result in violent clashes, part of the British embassy team in Sana’a is being temporarily withdrawn, leaving a small core staff in place,” the Foreign Office said.

    The withdrawal coincided with news that international oil companies had also started to evacuate staff from Yemen as the escalation of violence threatens the country’s main source of revenue. Austria’s OMV, Norway’s DNO and Occidental Petroleum of the US all said they were pulling expatriate employees out of the country amid political turmoil that on Wednesday forced the president to offer to resign within a year.
    Sapere Aude

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    Default NYT Op Ed: The Boss Falls. Then What?

    Which ends with, in abbreviated form:
    The United States and its international allies will have a limited window of opportunity to get things right in Yemen. No longer can the American government insist on seeing the country only through the prism of terrorism.....

    Think of it as a strategic investment to defeat the current generation of terrorists and to prevent the formation of future ones.....

    This may well be the West’s last chance in Yemen. If Mr. Saleh falls and the international community fails this time, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will be waiting in the wings to take advantage of the situation....
    Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/op...rssnyt&emc=rss
    davidbfpo

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    Default Site from a friend...

    A friend of mine, a young activist with Islah and my former Arabic teacher, standing on what he calls the front lines has sent me a website belonging to the umbrella organisation called the "Youth Revolution"; the site is here (it's in Arabic, but has a section in English). According to him 52 people were killed in the last few days. Of course I can't verify that myself. I saw some of the pictures, saw streets I've walked down myself and I don't recognise it (i.e., I can't believe what I'm seeing not I don't recognise the streets).

    His father in law is a Col. in the Ymeeni Army, I'll ask him to find out what the mood is.... may not get an answe though as the Yemeni web has intermittent service at the best of times o could be being blocked (as it usually is).
    Last edited by Tukhachevskii; 03-26-2011 at 07:46 PM.

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    Talks on fate of Yemen's embattled President snag - AP

    SANAA, Yemen – Allies of Yemen's president and his political opponents failed to make progress Saturday in talks on a possible exit for the man who has led the nation through 32 years of growing poverty and conflict and whose rule is now deeply imperiled by a popular uprising.

    As the political turmoil deepened, there were signs that Islamic militants in the remote reaches of the country were seeking to make gains on the situation. Residents and witnesses in the small town of Jaar in the south said suspected al-Qaida militants moved down from an expanse of mountains on Saturday to seize control there a few weeks after police fled, setting up checkpoints and occupying vacant government buildings.

    President Ali Abdullah Saleh argued in a TV interview that without him, the country would be at grave risk of breaking apart.

    "Yemen is a ticking bomb and if the political system collapses and there's no constructive dialogue there will be a long civil war that will be difficult to end," he told the Al-Arabiya network ...

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default A quite bizarre Op Ed...

    Re this...

    The United States and its international allies will have a limited window of opportunity to get things right in Yemen. No longer can the American government insist on seeing the country only through the prism of terrorism.....

    Think of it as a strategic investment to defeat the current generation of terrorists and to prevent the formation of future ones.....

    This may well be the West’s last chance in Yemen. If Mr. Saleh falls and the international community fails this time, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will be waiting in the wings to take advantage of the situation....
    I have to note that the author does not say what "getting it right in Yemen" would be, or how "The United States and its international allies" could go about "getting it right". He talks about "if the international community fails", but gives no indication of what he wants the international community to do.

    The idea that the US and international allies, or the international community, or all the King's horses and all the King's men, can somehow "fix" Yemen seems quite outside the realm of possibility to me.

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    Posted by Tukhachevskii

    the umbrella organisation called the "Youth Revolution"; the site is here (it's in Arabic, but has a section in English).
    Interesting, but not a lot substance on the English portion of the site. What is the purpose? Who is the intended audience? I didn't see a means to coordinate future actions?

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