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Thread: Yemen - a catch all thread for 2007-2011

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    Default Yemen - a catch all thread for 2007-2011

    Moderator's note 31/12/09: new thread for Yemen created, merging several old threads to give background to a country that is expected to feature more in 2010.


    27 May LA Times - Modern Yemen Embraces the Tribe by Megan Stack.

    ... Pervasive and often overlooked by outsiders, the ancient network of tribes remains one of the most potent forces in the Middle East. The tribes are older than the nations and borders that carve up the Arab world, older than the oil industry, older than the governments in the United States or Europe. They are an older — and, some believe, an even stronger — social force than Islam.

    Rather than withering away as the Arab world succumbs to modernity, tribes are only getting more powerful. Weak central governments, civil war in Iraq, an identity crisis born of the clash between modernity and tradition — all of these factors have fortified the role of the tribes...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-31-2009 at 09:22 PM. Reason: Add moderator's note at start of thread

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    Chatham House, 19 Nov 08: Yemen: Fear of Failure
    • Yemen presents a potent combination of problems for policy-makers confronting the prospect of state failure in this strategically important Red Sea country. It is the poorest state in the Arab world, with high levels of unemployment, rapid population growth and dwindling water resources.

    • President Saleh faces an intermittent civil war in the north, a southern separatist movement and resurgent terrorist groups. Yemen's jihadi networks appear to be growing as operating conditions in Iraq and Saudi Arabia become more difficult.

    • The underlying drivers for future instability are economic. The state budget is heavily dependent on revenue from dwindling oil supplies. Yemen's window of opportunity to shape its own future and create a post-oil economy is narrowing.

    • Western governments need to work towards an effective regional approach with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in particular Saudi Arabia.

    • Future instability in Yemen could expand a lawless zone stretching from northern Kenya, through Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, to Saudi Arabia. Piracy, organized crime and violent jihad would escalate, with implications for the security of shipping routes, the transit of oil through the Suez Canal and the internal security of Yemen's neighbours.

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    Default Yemen and HOA

    Counterterrorism in Yemen currently falls under the operational jurisdiction of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and CJTF-HOA falls under AFRICOM. Yemen is geographically under CENTCOM's area of response.

    Terrorist attacks in Yemen are up over the last few months, and Gen. Petraeus claims that Yemen is a safe haven for al-Qaeda. Whose shoulders will the problem fall on--AFRICOM or CENTCOM? I ask because there is an overlapping interest, and this will likely be a bureaucratic fight for additional AFRICOM funding in the near future. Thoughts?

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Welcome aboard...

    Hi Ridek,

    Obviously, you're wicked smart. Give us some time to absorb. Please take a moment to introduce yourself here. Which led to the following being posted:

    I am an undergrad at American University, double majoring in International Relations (focusing on US Foreign Policy), and International Business. I also intern for the Hudson Institute Center for Political-Military Analysis in D.C. Most of my study/work has been on security in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and the U.S. intelligence community.

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-08-2009 at 01:11 PM. Reason: Add text from intro thread

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    Rick,

    Welcome to the board!

    This sort of thing isn't unprecedented. EUCOM, PACOM and CENTCOM had some overlap in the past. If it hasn't happened already, I'm sure the two commands are working on MOU's to define responsibilities.

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    Default Yemen - Sa'ada Emergency

    OCHA, 5 Nov 09: Yemen - Sa’ada Emergency: Situation Report #12
    Highlights/Key Priorities
    • A United Nations cross-border assessment mission, facilitated by the Governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, took place in northern Sa’ada (Al-Mandaba, Alb) between 26 and 29 October.

    • The security situation in Sa’ada and neighbouring governorates is deteriorating, causing serious constraints to humanitarian assistance. Tens of thousands of displaced people have been on the move, and the winter season is fast approaching.

    • In Al-Jawf Governorate, access remains limited to only one district (Al-Matammah).

    • Discussions are ongoing over the location for a new camp in Amran. Local authorities have allowed the UN and INGOs to assist IDPs in host communities outside the existing government camp in Khaiwan, which hosts some 50 families.

    • The draft 2010 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP) is under review.
    CRS, 7 Jul 09: Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-16-2009 at 01:41 PM. Reason: Updated Report

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    Default ICG on Saada conflict

    Also useful background:

    Yemen: Defusing the Saada Time Bomb

    International Crisis Group, Middle East Report N°86 , 27 May 2009

    Away from media headlines, a war has been raging on and off in Yemen’s northern governorate of Saada since 2004, flaring up in adjacent regions and, in 2008, reaching the outskirts of the capital, Sanaa. The conflict, which has brought about extensive destruction, pits a rebel group, known generically as the Huthis, against government forces. Today’s truce is fragile and risks being short-lived. A breakdown would threaten Yemen’s stability, already under severe duress due to the global economic meltdown, depleting national resources, renewed tensions between the country’s northern elites and populations in the south and the threat from violent groups with varied links to al-Qaeda. Nor would the impact necessarily be contained within national borders. The country should use its traditional instruments – social and religious tolerance, cooptation of adversaries – to forge a more inclusive compact that reduces sectarian stigmatisation and absorbs the Huthis. International actors – principally Gulf states and the West – should use their leverage and the promise of reconstruction assistance to press both government and rebels to compromise.

    After two decades of relative stability that confounded foreign diplomats and analysts alike, the convergence of economic, political and secessionist challenges are testing the regime’s coping capacity. The Saada conflict might not be the most covered internationally, but it carries grave risks for Yemen’s political, sectarian and social equilibrium.
    Executive summary and link to full report here (registration required for the full report).
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Executive summary and link to full report here (registration required for the full report).
    The full report is also hosted by Relief Web - no registration necessary for access. However, ICG is an excellent resource, and registration is free and painless - and provides you full access to their archived reports.

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    CEIP, Sep 09: Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral
    Key Conclusions:

    - There are increasing indications that al-Qaeda is regrouping in Yemen. Recent counterterrorism measures in Saudi Arabia have forced extremists to seek refuge elsewhere, with a steady flow relocating to Yemen’s under-governed areas.

    - The ceding of authority by the weak central government to local government has proved counterproductive by limiting control over volatile under-governed territories.

    - The security situation is rapidly deteriorating. Fighting with Shi’i rebels in north Yemen has strained the army, and Yemen is unable to protect its coast from the recent surge in piracy.

    - The poorest in the Arab world, with unemployment at 35 percent, Yemen’s economy has been severely effected by the dramatic fall in oil prices and has few sustainable post-oil, economic options.

    - Yemen is running out of water. Rising domestic consumption, poor water management, corruption, the absence of resource governance, and wasteful irrigation techniques are creating frequent and widespread shortages.

    - Yemen’s lack of food and water is complicated by the population’s dependence on qat, a quick-cash crop that requires heavy irrigation to thrive. Farmers devote so much land to qat production that Yemen is now a net food importer.

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    Waq al-Waq
    This blog was started for a few reasons. We both have been studying Yemen for years, and as the country has risen in importance, the quality of discussion has declined. We wanted to contradict some other individuals, blogs and commentators who have no experience in Yemen or with Arabic, and who turn the facts to fit their opinions. We feel that presenting a thoughtful and nuanced discussion of Yemeni affairs, based in knowledge of its history and culture is in the best interest of all. That said, this is not an academic blog, and provides a lighter tone than our other publications, and also allows us to indulge our unhealthy interests in medieval swords and mysterious islands that color Yemeni history.
    Enjoy.

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    CEIP, Nov 07: Between Government and Opposition: The Case of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform
    Like Islamist parties across the Arab world, Yemen’s Islamist Congregation for Reform (Islah) has a religious ideology and platform. Islah participates in legal politics in hopes of accomplishing constitutional and socioeconomic reforms, and over time it has committed itself to upholding democratic procedures internally as well as externally.

    Yet Islah differs from most other Arab Islamists. The party combines tribal influences along with those of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood and more radical Salafi groups. As a result, it faces deep internal divisions on key issues, including its relationship with the ruling establishment, its role in the opposition, and the participation of women in politics. Moreover, Islah is not simply an opposition group; until 1997, the party was a junior partner in a ruling coalition.

    Under Yemen’s authoritarian regime, President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his General People’s Congress dominate political life, and there are no effective checks and balances among the different branches of government. Since its move to the opposition, Islah has had no choice but to cooperate with the regime in order to gain a degree of infl uence in key political choices. Yet its fractious composition prevents it from developing a clear parliamentary platform, forcing it instead to balance tribal and political interests, differing interpretations of the party’s Islamist platform, and both loyalist and opposition constituencies. As a result, no one knows where the party stands, and it has no clear path toward the reforms it seeks....

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    HRW, 15 Dec 09: In the Name of Unity: The Yemeni Government’s Brutal Response to Southern Movement Protests
    ....Since 2007, southern Yemenis have conducted sit-ins, marches and demonstrations to protest what they say is the northern-dominated central government’s treatment of them, including dismissal from the civil and security services. The protests escalated and by 2008 many southern Yemenis were demanding secession and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state, which had existed up until the union of the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1990.

    The security forces, and Central Security in particular, have carried out widespread abuses in the south—unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, beatings, crackdowns on freedom of assembly and speech, arrests of journalists, and others. These abuses have created a climate of fear, but have also increased bitterness and alienation among southerners, who say the north economically exploits and politically marginalizes them. The security forces have enjoyed impunity for unlawful attacks against southerners, increasing pro-secessionist sentiments in the south and plunging the country into an escalating spiral of repression, protests, and more repression.....

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    Default Somali refugees 'forced to join Yemen rebel war'

    From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/8416285.stm

    Hundreds of Somali refugees are being forced at gunpoint to join rebels fighting in northern Yemen, a Somali diplomat in Aden has told the BBC.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Yemen - a catch all thread for 2010

    'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the desert
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a terrorist;
    Their AK’s were placed on the floor with care,
    In hopes that Osama soon would be there;
    The jihadists were nestled all snug in their beds,
    While visions of 72 virgins danc'd in their heads,

    When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
    They sprang from their bed to see what was the matter.
    Away to the window they flew like a flash,
    tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
    When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
    but warplanes armed to the gills.

    Link
    Yemen's military hit suspected al-Qaida hideouts, possibly killing a radical cleric linked to the U.S. Army major accused of the Fort Hood mass shooting, as a gathering of top militant leaders was targeted in a remote mountain valley Thursday in strikes carried out with U.S. intelligence help, officials said.

    At least 30 militants were believed to be killed in the second such strike in a week. Pentagon officials could not confirm Thursday whether radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed in the strike.
    Merry Christmas.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-31-2009 at 08:23 PM. Reason: Re-titled at authors request via a PM

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Default NY Times: U.S. quietly takes terror war to Yemen

    Given recent events, it seems that Yemen is figuring more prominently into our, umm, overseas contingency operations.

    U.S. quietly takes terror war to Yemen
    Covert front against al-Qaida was opened a year ago, military officers say

    WASHINGTON - In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen.

    A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said.

    The Pentagon is spending more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and using teams of Special Forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default New merged thread

    At Jarod Parker's request / suggestion I have re-titled this thread - as a "catch all" for matters in the Yemen, on the assumption it will feature a lot more. Secondly I have merged some of the existing threads on the Yemen to this one, so there is a collection of background pointers and comments.

    Abu M commends a Yemeni expert Gregory Johnson blogsite which has been mentioned before: http://islamandinsurgencyinyemen.blogspot.com/ and a November 2009 CNAS policy brief on the Yemen, entitled 'Yemen on a knife's edge': http://www.cnas.org/node/3771

    Interesting to read the demographic and water parts of the brief.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-31-2009 at 08:44 PM. Reason: Adding links etc.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by JarodParker View Post
    At least 30 militants were believed to be killed in the second such strike in a week.
    Interesting.

    Winning the War, 30 Taliban at a Time

    Adnkronos, 12/07/2009: “Up to 30 suspected militants were killed in a NATO airstrike on a Taliban hideout in eastern Afghanistan close to the Pakistani border on Monday. The airstrike targeted the village of Sangar Dara in the mountainous Watapur district of Kunar province , the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.”
    SF Chronicle, 12/04/2009: “Air strikes in two areas of the Mohmand border region killed 30 suspected militants, a military statement said. It said the strikes were “highly successful” but provided no further details, including whether any civilians were hurt.”
    Xinhua, 11/04/2009: “The military said that the troops have killed 30 more militants during the last 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities to 400, as the operation in the country’s tribal area steadily progressed towards the Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan.”
    Xinhua, 08/31/2009: “At least 30 bodies of suspected Taliban fighters were recovered in northwest Pakistan’s insurgency-hit Swat valley on Monday, witnesses said. The Pakistani army said they were killed in fighting with the security forces.”
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    are you saying someone in Kabul is in love with the figure "30"? How does ISAF know how many taliban died in such and such attack?
    I can tell you that in Pakistan the PAF's figures for airstrikes are more varied, but totally unreliable. My friends tell me that they make up the figure almost literally by pulling it out of a hat (or their ass, as the case may be). I find that the taliban themselves are much more scrupulous about reporting losses (though they in turn exaggerrate their successes by factors of 100 or more)...

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Yemen - no thanks

    Hat tip to Fuchs.

    Two contrary views found, one by Pat Lang, who served in the Yemen in the 1980's: http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_s...-quagmire.html and a curious cross-posting by Juan Cole (who starts off on other matters and goes onto the Yemen. Nice photos of the terrain though)
    :http://www.juancole.com/2009/12/top-...ut-crotch.html

    Both liken any US involvement, I assume beyond what is in place already, to entering a quagmire, where the Yemeni's are very adept at playing "power politics" to get support. Almost reminds me of Somalia, a place to avoid which played the "power" game and later fell apart - now largely left alone, piracy excluded.

    Another critical voice: http://www.counterpunch.org/patrick12292009.html and his final paragraph:
    he Yemeni government will do what it can to show the US it is willing to go after al-Qa'ida. But the threat to its own existence comes from various directions: first, the civil war it is fighting with Shia revivalists – who it claims are backed by Iran – in the northern province of Saada; then secessionism in the south sparked by discontent over the outcome of Yemeni unification in 1990 and the civil war that followed; and finally a growing economic crisis as Yemen's small oilfields, which provide revenue, are running out.

    Pressure from the US to pursue al-Qa'ida will be one extra strain on a government which has been unable to cope with these multiple crises.
    A strategic viewpoint: http://donvandergriff.wordpress.com/...y-a-1000-cuts/

    One wonders how the Saudi government will regard greater US involvement, if only for the propaganda impact on their own population.

    Answers on a postcard!
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-31-2009 at 10:54 PM. Reason: Add hat tip and adding links.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Mission Creep

    One of my worst fears is that we extend FM 3-24 past Iraq and A'stan into the extended Middle East and beyond. Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and others will pose threats under our current definitions of GWOT or Long War.

    We must be just as clear on our definitions of existential threats as we are on our antidotes. It is easy to take down a government. It is nearly impossible to govern or establish good governance under our current constraints in the post-colonial world.

    My hope in 2010 is that we gain the wisdom to discern.

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