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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Yemen in 2016-2018: an intractable war?

    A new thread for 2016-2017. The current thread which started in 2011 has had 47k views and 222 posts:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=12784

    Time for a new thread, as this war is very unlikely to end soon.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-31-2016 at 01:28 PM. Reason: Extended for 2017
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    Want to understand how sectarianism fits into the conflict in #Yemen? This by @almuslimi is a great place to start. http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=62375

    How war, Gulf tension & identity politics are poisoning formerly live-&-let-live #Yemen with sectarianism

    The new wave of sectarian rhetoric in #Yemen draws on many sources, but there has been a fascinating historical interplay between the rise of Sunni-chauvinist salafism in northern Yemen, pioneered by the #Saudi-trained salafi Muqbil Wadei, which fuelled the simultaneous rise of an #Iran-influenced counter-movement that "Shiafied" Zaydism—the Houthis. All of this took place among tribes that had fought plenty but never bothered much with otherizing people on religious grounds. Familiar story: fringe radicals weaponize sectarian shibboleths to increase polarization, gaining support while tearing the country apart.. Societies are brittle things
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-03-2016 at 04:24 PM.

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    ...here what I find a very interesting (if not outright 'ultimately important') feature on coming-into-being of one of most important legends about the ongoing Yemen War:

    How False Stories of Iran Arming the Houthis Were Used to Justify War in Yemen
    Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that the story of the arms onboard the ship had been concocted by the government.

    ...
    The government of the Republic of Yemen, then dominated by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, claimed that it had seized a vessel named Mahan 1 in Yemeni territorial waters on October 25, 2009, with a crew of five Iranians, and that it had found weapons onboard the ship. The UN expert panel report repeated the official story that authorities had confiscated the weapons and that the First Instance Court of Sana'a had convicted the crew of the Mahan 1 of smuggling arms from Iran to Yemen.

    But diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Yemen released by WikiLeaks in 2010 reveal that, although the ship and crew were indeed Iranian, the story of the arms onboard the ship had been concocted by the government. On October 27, 2009, the US Embassy sent a cable to the State Department noting that the Embassy of Yemen in Washington had issued a press statement announcing the seizure of a "foreign vessel carrying a quantity of arms and other goods...." But another cable dated November 11, 2009, reported that the government had "failed to substantiate its extravagant public claims that an Iranian ship seized off its coast on October 25 was carrying military trainers, weapons and explosives destined for the Houthis."
    ...

    A follow-up Embassy cable five days later reported that the government had already begun to revise its story in light of the US knowledge that no arms had been found on board. "The ship was apparently empty when it was seized," according to the cable. "However, echoing a claim by Yemen Ambassador al-Hajj, FM [Foreign Minister] Qaairbi told Pol Chief [chief of the US Embassy's political section] on 11/15 the fact that the ship was empty indicated the arms had already been delivered."
    ...

    Unlike the government's story of the Mahan 1 and its phantom weapons, the official claim that a ship called the Jihan 1, seized on January 23, 2013, had arms onboard was true. But the totality of the evidence shows that the story of an Iranian arms shipment to the Houthis was false.

    The ship was stopped in Yemeni waters by a joint patrol of the Yemeni Coast Guard and the US Navy, and an inspection found a cache of weapons and ammunition. The cargo including man-portable surface-to-air missiles, 122-millimeter rockets, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, C-4 plastic explosive blocks and equipment for improvised explosive devices.

    Some weeks later, the UN expert panel inspected the weaponry said to have been found on board the Jihan 1 and found labels stuck on ammunition boxes with the legend "Ministry of Sepah" - the former name of the Iranian military logistics ministry. The panel report said the panel had determined that "all available information placed the Islamic Republic of Iran at the centre of the Jihan operation."

    But except for those labels, which could have been affixed to the boxes after the government had taken possession of the arms, nothing about the ship or the weapons actually pointed to Iran. All of the crew and the businessmen said to have arranged the shipment were Yemenis, according to the report. And the expert panel cited no evidence that the ship was Iranian or that the weapons were manufactured in Iran.
    ...

  4. #4
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Can the Saudi-led coalition win the war in Yemen?

    An overview of the small war by a SME, Helen Lackner (who has resided in country for many years) and the sub-title helps:
    Those deciding for war in March 2015 gave little thought to Yemeni realities, military, logistic, topographic, social or political, human cost, or an exit strategy. But questions are being raised.
    Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-a...n-war-in-yemen
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The war IN Saudi Arabia

    Following a Twitter alert a Western MSM (Reuters) report on the war inside Saudi Arabia and here is the relevant text (half of the report):
    Mortars and rockets fired at Saudi Arabian towns and villages have killed 375 civilians, including 63 children, since the start of the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen in late March, Riyadh said on Monday....the Houthi militia and army forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh had fired more than 40,000 projectiles across the border since the war began. In a measure of how fierce the fighting on the frontier continues to be, nearly 130 mortars and 15 missiles were fired by the Houthis and Saleh's forces at Saudi border positions on Monday alone...
    Link:http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0VA36T
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    A curious twist to the scene:
    One of Australia's most decorated military soldiers, who is now serving as a senior advisor for the United Arab Emirates forces, is facing questions about his knowledge of civilian attacks in Yemen....The UAE Presidential Guard, the unit that General Hindmarsh is listed as commanding, is reported to be operating on the ground in Yemen.
    Link:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-0...dmarsh/7141638
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    http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/co...egional-crises

    UAE shows the way to deal with regional crises
    Hassan Hassan

    July 3, 2016

    Since late 2013, two main regional blocs have competed over how to deal with the rise of extremist forces in Syria. The policy in Syria today seems to have finally settled in favour of one of the arguments.

    Saudi Arabia and the UAE, on one hand, favoured a twin policy of fighting extremist factions at the same time as battling the regime of Bashar Al Assad. Turkey and Qatar, on the other hand, pushed for toppling Mr Al Assad first. They argued that it would be easier to build a local, regional and international consensus to fight extremists after the downfall of the regime. With varying success, the two sides competed to advance their visions on the ground in Syria and in policy circles outside it.

    Around this time in 2013, Jabhat Al Nusra had already revealed its links to Al Qaeda after two years of acting as a local Syrian group with a jihadist bent. ISIL began to establish a foothold for itself in much of Syria, mostly focusing on policing rebel-held areas. Syrian Islamist groups then began discussions to form a unified front. By the end of the year, Islamist and jihadist forces became the main players in rebel-held Syria.

    At the beginning of 2014, clashes erupted between the rebel forces and ISIL. This continued until the summer, when the latter took over #Mosul and returned to Syria with a vengeance – eventually controlling about half of the country.

    Two summers later, it should be clear that the twin policy of fighting the regime and extremists would have a better chance of working. Today, the two superpowers involved in the Syrian conflict are getting closer to working together to defeat ISIL and Jabhat Al Nusra, after American president Barack Obama reportedly proposed a partnership with Moscow against the Al Qaeda affiliate. Turkey’s policy in Syria was also widely criticised after last Tuesday’s terror attacks inside Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with many saying that the attacks were payback for neglecting the growing presence of extremists in Syria.

    The lesson that must be drawn from how the situation developed in Syria is that the twin policy is more effective. But there is an inherent issue with counterterrorism efforts in the region, often because they have been largely led by the United States, or because operations show little regard for local sensitivities or aspirations. Shifting politics in Washington may also undermine ongoing efforts and therefore perpetuate or exacerbate the problem. So, the apparent solution is for regional countries to take on the task.

    This is where the UAE comes in. On Tuesday, Reuters published a detailed account of the Emirati special forces’ counterterrorism mission in southern Yemen – an operation that turned out to be more extensive and impressive than initially made out in media. An Emirati eight-person special forces team landed in Yemen in April 2015 and began to train Yemeni soldiers. The UAE teams trained a 2,000-strong force that drove the Houthi rebels from Aden last July, and further 4,000 forces to run the newly captured city. The UAE special forces then began to prepare for the Mukalla operation which culminated with driving out Al Qaeda.

    A US official told the agency that some in Washington had doubted the UAE’s sincerity in attacking Al Qaeda in the port city of Al Mukalla. But the Pentagon deployed a small number of military personnel to help in the fight after an evacuation in early 2015, according to Reuters, in a possible sign of increasing US willingness to re-engage on the ground.

    “Whether there’s secession or not, the south is in the hands of its sons and that was made possible by the coalition countries," Mahmoud Al Salmi, a professor at Aden University, said.

    What makes the UAE’s mission particularly significant is that the effort is conducted by local forces and led by a regional country with a long-term commitment to the neighbourhood’s stability. This aspect is critical for any counterterrorism effort. While locals who want to expel extremist forces from their areas often seek support from the US, long-term commitment weighs heavily in their calculation. This dynamic is felt in Iraq, Syria and other countries where extremists dominate.

    Local tribes or insurgents would rather strike temporary alliances with extremists, even though they could defeat them with some help from the US, because they know the US commitment is often fickle but extremists always come back. That is a lesson many have learnt from the Iraq war, when the people of Anbar joined forces with the American troops to expel the predecessor of ISIL from their areas between 2005 and 2010. The US withdrew from Iraq and left them to deal with an increasingly sectarian government in Baghdad and a growing jihadist force in their midst.

    Today, many seek US support but they also want a regional guarantor of long-term commitment. The UAE offers an example of what that commitment looks like.
    BUT WAIT the Obama\Rhodes WH policy in fighting IS was what again????......not doing any "stupid ####".....

  8. #8
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Defeating AQAP: some context and options

    At a recent conference @ Oxford University, hosted by Pembroke College, entitled 'The Lure of Jihad: Propaganda & the Construction of Jihadist Identities' amidst the presentations was one talk that fits here: Keeping the Lure Alive: The evolution of AQAP's Propaganda Strategy & What we can Learn from it' by Dr Elisabeth Kendall. Her research has taken to the eastern provinces, most recently in November 2015.
    1. Due to the Saudi-led blockade AQAP is making US$2m per day taxing imports, especially of fuel;
    2. There is no appetite in the eastern provinces for the Caliphate;
    3. Polling using locally recruited staff to conduct interviews found that 21% state an Iman's role is to advise on all matters; 10% want a 'single, strong leader' definitely not a distant man;
    4. Each family can have up to twenty children and child mortality is high and death is accepted. Alongside having more guns than books in each home - makes them a hardened audience and it is hard to terrorise people like that;
    5. The ability of AQAP to get local "buy in" depends on local, tribal factors and it is clear there is mutual toleration of each other as business is pursued;
    6. When shown an IS 2015 video, showing a local Yemeni IS group, it was widely ridiculed and caused bewilderment;
    7. AQAP have adapted their approach, it is now more nuanced, but there is a contradiction between business and war. No longer are the punishments and stoning seen in 2011-2012 used. They now aim to get popular support by proving they can govern and so help the people. Then they radicalise;
    8. AQAP does not portray graphic violence against non-Muslims;
    9. It is almost a "Robin Hood" method, fighting for justice and righting wrongs. The jihad today is a continuation of the fight against the British (who left in 1967) and AQAP have used stills of British soldiers being buried in Aden in that conflict;
    10. AQAP's tweets (I do wonder how many locals use Twitter) when examined are by issue: 57% development, 18% law, 13% celebrations & parties and 3% Sharia;
    11. There has been considerable population movement to the eastern provinces, notably Al-Mukalla, from the north following the damage caused by the war.

    Dr Kendall has written widely, her last article readily found was in WaPo in May 2016:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...a-be-defeated/
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-05-2016 at 06:34 PM. Reason: 19,911v
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    Default Drones in South Arabia and Yemen

    In June 2016 Professor Clive Jones, Durham University, gave a seminar paper which combines history, the wider aspects of drones and contemporary events in the Yemen; the full title being 'Drones as Air Proscription? The case of South Arabia and Yemen in comparative perspective'.

    There is a summary and a podcast (90 minutes) of the seminar, plus the Q&A:http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/...scription.aspx
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-10-2016 at 06:01 PM. Reason: 21,621v
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    Default UAE asserts itself

    Hat tip to WoTR for this article on the UAE or U.A.E. or Emirates and the expansion of it's military power:http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/wes...arab-emirates/

    There are several articles in this thread on the UAE's role in this war, so it fits here!

    I had not spotted:
    But Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had an on-hand replacement: neighboring Eritrea, Djibouti’s regional rival, which boasts rudimentary ports on the Red Sea just 150 kilometers further north. On April 29, the very day that Djibouti evicted Gulf troops, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and concluded a security and military partnership agreement with the Gulf states offering basing rights in Eritrea.
    Other sections of this article have been added to the Eritrea thread.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-08-2016 at 05:27 PM. Reason: 23,082v
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    Default On the ground, Saudis in the air

    Peter Oborne, a UK journalist, has been to Houthi & others controlled Yemen, with two short film clips - with the caveat Houthi minders were with them. He denounces the UK stance on supporting the Saudi role, principally aerial bombing of civilian targets.
    Link:http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns...orne-855615638
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-10-2016 at 12:16 PM. Reason: 23,241v
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    Default Assessing U.S. Special Operations in Yemen

    Assessing U.S. Special Operations in Yemen

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    Default Ouch! UAE ship hit & burns in Red Sea

    Via twitter by Alex Mello just:
    1) UAE HSV-2 Swift making runs between Assab and Aden hit with Houthi anti-ship missile off Mokha; 2) And looks like Houthi dudes in a dhow or speedboat tracked the Swift and filmed the missile strike. Big fail for UAE opsec...; 3) Keep in mind Before UAE HSV was hit by Houthi missile Unconfirmed news about an attack on Assab base


    YouTube film clip (3.35mins):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaMSb_7_3cM&app=desktop

    The vessel is a former USN vessel, Swift by class and disposed of to the private sector in 2013 and now operated UAE company. IRRC it was used earlier in the Yemen conflict to move UAE heavy kit to Aden and presumably was ferrying supplies from Assab, Eritrea to the Yemen.

    Wiki has:
    The UAE leased Swift was reportedly sunk off the Yemeni coast on the 1st of October, 2016 by an anti-ship missile from the brigade 17 tunnel-bunker network in Dhubab [8], the UAE officials reported that the ship was carrying aid when targeted by the anti-ship missile [9]
    Link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSV-2_Swift
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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Rather amazingly, contrary to all the possible rumours about Swift sinking etc., Emiratis report there were no casualties, and the ship was eventually saved.

    Guess, we'll have to wait for a definite confirmation.

  15. #15
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default This ship was saved?

    Via Twitter three photos of the ship after being hit by a anti-ship missile(allegedly C-802):





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    Rumor has it, several members of the Royal Saudi family were on board, and either killed or heavily injured. But then, that family meanwhile has about 100,000 members...

    US officials are talking about 'four shoulder-launched rockets, provided by Iran:
    The U.S. Navy dispatched three warships near the southern coast of Yemen after four rockets hit and nearly sank a United Arab Emirates auxiliary ship Saturday, two U.S. defense officials told Fox News.

    Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack. There were no reported injuries to the Emerati crew. Al Jazeera reported on video of the attack.

    Iran supplied the Houthis with the shoulder-fired rockets that nearly destroyed the UAE ship, according to two U.S. officials. It was not immediately clear what type of rocket the rebels may have fired.

    The ship was formerly contracted to the U.S., two defense officials confirmed, and at one time an American company owned the vessel.
    ...
    ...but photos are clearly showing only one 'entry hole' - with possibility of there being another one, on the port side of the ship.

    What's making no sense to me: a radar-guided weapon like C.701 or C.802 would go for either the centre of the ship, or the point with highest RCS, while Swift was hit at the bow.

    Another 'problem' is that Swift was made of aluminium, and aluminium is relatively easy to set on fire (burning point at 650C). So, except for that hole on the staboard side of the bow, most of visible damage was actually caused by fierce fire that burned the entire bridge (and collapsed its flour), and most... well, actually: all of the bow.

  17. #17
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default SSM, not RPGs

    This WINEP article appeared via Twitter last night; it has a somewhat odd viewpoint IMHO, but is convinced the ship was hit by a SSM:http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/p...-mandab-strait
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-07-2016 at 11:31 AM. Reason: 584v
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    Default U.S. Strikes Yemen Sites in Retaliation for Missile Launches

    U.S. Strikes Yemen Sites in Retaliation for Missile Launches

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    Astounding. @StateDept briefing on the Houthi threat to our Navy & only one response that includes Iran. One dodge. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263158.htm#…

    This is an anti-Saudi briefing more than anything. Reminiscent of how they briefed vs them when Iran burned down their embassy + consulate.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-16-2016 at 09:47 AM. Reason: Moved from Syria thread.

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    Syria #Hama Rebels still in Maardas but regime seized mills & Iskandarīyah south of it

    THIS is interesting as it flips the US/UK attempts at a ceasefire in Yemen...means the Houthi's must hold to it.....if they violate it then the war is on again..and violate it they will and the Saudi's know that....so it is easy for them to say yes with caveats....

    Saudis prepared to agree to a ceasefire in #Yemen if the #Iran-backed Houthis would abide by it.


    Rumors are the US/UK rammed through this ceasefire proposal before informing the KSA...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-18-2016 at 09:16 AM. Reason: Copied from Syria thread.

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