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Old 03-18-2012   #61
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Default Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen

A BBC Arabic analyst in a short article, that starts with:
Quote:
An offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has issued a statement threatening the lives of 73 Yemeni soldiers it says it captured last week.
Then adds:
Quote:
Ansar al-Sharia, whose name means "Partisans of Islamic law" in Arabic, was formed by AQAP in response to the growing youth movement in Yemen..
Ends with:
Quote:
Many of those involved in Ansar al-Sharia are jihadists who have experienced living in an "Islamic state", either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.

Ansar al-Sharia's ability to launch attacks, as well as build local support, indicates that the Yemeni authorities' struggle with Islamist militants may soon become bloodier and more protracted.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17402856

Where is this Abyan? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yemen-Abyan.png
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Old 03-19-2012   #62
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Default Possible spilt between hard-liners and even more hardliners...

...Islah to be sidelined? Doubtful but developments are interesting...

First Yemeni Salafi Party announced


via the ever informative Yemen Times. Hat tip there to the wonderful Nadia As-Saqqaf, one of the few journalists in Yemen of integrity [her staff included].
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Old 03-22-2012   #63
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Default The President: a safe lightweight?

An on the ground report:
Quote:
Swept into office by a controversial one-candidate vote last month, President Abd Rabu Monsour Hadi faces the difficult task of steering the country toward multi-party elections in 2014. It's a job that would require huge political skill and authority even under the best of conditions. Yet Hadi is a political lightweight, an unlikely leader chosen primarily for his inoffensiveness. In Yemen, which endured decades of civil war in the twentieth century, Hadi is the safe pair of hands, the one political leader around whom warring factions were willing to rally.
Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...shoes?page=0,0
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Old 04-07-2012   #64
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Default The President: a safe lightweight balances changes

In a surprising move the President has shuffled senior civil and military posts:
Quote:
Yemen's president removed a half brother of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday as head of the air force, replacing nearly 20 top officers but leaving Mr Saleh's son, nephew and other allies in place as heads of important military units.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-commands.html

A small hiccup:
Quote:
Yemen's main airport has re-opened after a protest by air force troops against the sacking of their commander.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17649525
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Old 04-20-2012   #65
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Default Yemen: Always on the Brink?

Yemen: Always on the Brink?

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Old 05-01-2012   #66
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Al-Qaida's wretched utopia and the battle for hearts and minds

Quote:
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports from south Yemen on the jihadis offering free water and electricity alongside sharia law
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...dis-sharia-law
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Old 05-05-2012   #67
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Default Short-term gains -v- long term gains?

A FP Blog article I missed the other day, which concludes:
Quote:
It is time for the U.S. to stop undermining democratic values and long-term stability in Yemen in exchange for short term counter-terrorism gains and a half-hearted continuation of the status quo. If Washington continues on this path, it will end up at best with another Somalia; at worse, another Afghanistan.
Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...oice?page=full

Interesting take on the views of Yemen's richer neighbour.
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Old 05-11-2012   #68
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Default ICSR Insight - Al Qaeda's Most Dangerous Franchise?

A sombre assessment by Kings College London-based ICSR is on the attachment; these 'Insights' are emailed out and take a few days to appear on the ICSR website. It did appear on WSJ, but only a summary is provided without registration etc.

I was particularly taken by:
Quote:
At its core are 100 veteran jihadists, who escaped local prisons in 2006 and 2011. The group also counts on 11 former Guantanamo detainees, who returned to terrorism after undergoing "rehabilitation" programs in Saudi Arabia. Their combined experience is greater than that of all other al Qaeda affiliates taken together.
Then:
Quote:
Unlike al Qaeda in Iraq, which alienated entire tribes with barbaric and indiscriminate violence, AQAP's policies have allowed it to cultivate local sympathies.... Immersed in the population and protected by the tribes, AQAP is free to raise money and train fighters. CIA drone strikes against its operatives, in turn, are more likely to kill civilians.
My query is if AQAP gains more within the Yemen, extending it's control not cultivating or immersion, there would be an advantage to portray its actions as a local struggle and so curtail attacks on the 'far enemy'. Now whether the USA would curtail it's drone attacks is clearly unlikely. IMO doing more than drones becomes more problematic and with declining local acceptance.
Attached Files
File Type: doc copydoc.doc (38.0 KB, 114 views)
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Old 05-21-2012   #69
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Quote:
Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- A suicide bomber dressed in a military uniform killed at least 101 soldiers Monday at the central security headquarters in Yemen, Interior Ministry officials said.

More than 70 were injured, with some in critical condition, authorities said.

The blast targeted a military parade rehearsal in Sabeen Square in the capital Sanaa, said Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman the Yemeni Embassy in Washington.

He said that it was too early to know who was responsible but that suicide attacks are "the hallmark of al Qaeda."
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/21/wo...html?hpt=hp_t3
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Old 05-25-2012   #70
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Default Talks about Talks – Does Yemen Need More Time?

Talks about Talks – Does Yemen Need More Time?

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Old 05-31-2012   #71
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Default Some light cast on the puzzle that is the Yemen

Yemen seems to have receded from the foreground, although the suicide bomber attack on a Central Security Forces (CSF) parade, which killed one hundred did get a mention - missing that the commander of the CSF is a Saleh family member.

The Lowy Institute draws attention to a week-old Frontline report, which has several key sections and ends in a town which has rejected AQ - after they killed a tribal chief - and only the locals fight off AQ's attacks, the army isn't interested. One wonders if this replicates the rejection of AQ in Irag?

Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJtbhFimI8c

Hat tip to Leah Farrell's reactivated blogsite:http://allthingscounterterrorism.com/

The film is highly commended by a US academic expert, Gregory Johnsen, of Waq al-Waq, on the Yemen and I have linked the Q&A after the film was broadcast and this passage struck me:
Quote:
Over the past two-and-a-half years the US has managed to kill several mid-level commanders within AQAP, but at the same time it has also killed several civilians. In December 2009, AQAP had roughly 200-300 members and controlled no territory. Today it has over 1,000 members and controls significant amounts of territory in Abyan and Shabwa. This begs a very simple question: Why has AQAP grown so strong in such a short time? Now, I don’t think US drone and airstrikes are the only reason for the rapid growth of AQAP – one also has to consider the collapse of the Yemeni state in 2011 – but in my view it is certainly one of the key factors.
Link:http://bigthink.com/ideas/frontline-...yemen?page=all

The Australian analyst, Sarah Phillips, provides some context and touches upon the very murky aspects:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...y-to-fail.aspx

There's also a short interview with her:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...wo-videos.aspx

Want more to read, there's a pointer to this US journalist's blogsite:http://armiesofliberation.com/
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Old 05-31-2012   #72
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Jeremy Scahill, best known for his book about the LLC formerly known as Blackwater, did a prescient interview on Fresh Air four days before the 21 May attack in Sana'a. I know a lot of people write him off because of his politics (he’s quite the lefty), but as someone who has a real respect for investigative journalism he seems to me to know a lot more about how and why the sausage is made than most contemporary members of the Fourth Estate.

When the Fresh Air host puts the “Well, what would you have us do about AQAP?” question to Scahill his reply amounts to 1) stop acting as if al-Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States 2) stop outsourcing our HUMINT to the Saudis and 3) stop pretending more and better technology can obviate HUMINT. However his politics may shade what is presented in the interview, I found the discussion beginning at 41:49 of the role which attending khat chews played in his reporting to be indicative of a real respect for the sort of work that absolutely has to be done in investigative journalism, ethnographic fieldwork, or intelligence gathering worth calling such. And in the excerpt below he throws out an observation which in my experience is quite indicative of the lack of respect American foreign policy types have for that sort of work.

Quote:
And I would not have gotten access to the places I went, I wouldn’t have been able to talk to the people that I did, I wouldn’t have been able to travel as freely as I did in Yemen if I wasn’t going to those khat chews and negotiating permissions or talking to people and listening to them. And the reason that I’m so struck by that experience is because the United States bans its employees in Yemen from chewing khat.
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Old 05-31-2012   #73
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Default Khat - the way to learn?

I am unconvinced that chewing khat is the way to learn in the Yemen (or Somalia) and several of the authors who appear in this thread I have m' doubts would need to chew khat. Sipping tea, talking and have empathy before making gains is an art that takes time to gain.

Perhaps the US Embassy has banned sipping tea?
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Old 05-31-2012   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
[T]alking and have empathy before making gains is an art that takes time to gain.
From a tiny bit of first-hand knowledge and several second-hand accounts I’m lead to believe that there are quite a few FSOs with a real aptitude for what you are describing but that the structure of and priorities at State are such that it is hard for that aptitude to count for as much as it could.* They’re as a rule on a rotation schedule, for example. I’m sure there are good reasons for that but to keep to it as a rule for that line of work seems absolutely boneheaded to me…

Scahill’s mention of khat chews being off-limits to the embassy staff immediately brought to my mind an interview I had seen with Pik Botha in which he was discussing the negotiations leading to the Tripartite Accords. In his narrative the breakthrough came at the hotel pub when he and Jorge Risquet happened to be taking their board at the same hour. In passing Botha mentioned that the Americans had made the hotel pub off-limits to their contingent from day one of the talks.

*My impression based upon the little that I know is that the good listeners and empaths amongst the FSO corps tend to gravitate towards the positions that deal with aiding Americans in distress abroad.
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Last edited by ganulv; 05-31-2012 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 06-01-2012   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
Scahill’s mention of khat chews being off-limits to the embassy staff immediately brought to my mind an interview I had seen with Pik Botha in which he was discussing the negotiations leading to the Tripartite Accords. In his narrative the breakthrough came at the hotel pub when he and Jorge Risquet happened to be taking their board at the same hour. In passing Botha mentioned that the Americans had made the hotel pub off-limits to their contingent from day one of the talks.
I can see the point in the khat-chewing. Back when I was wearing the journalist hat I got way better information on the local military (as one example) by wallowing in rotgut booze and assorted other vices with a bunch of NCOs than I ever did by interviewing generals. Had more fun, too. Of course the pastimes of the freelance journalist are not always seen as appropriate for embassy staff, no matter how effective they may be.

Is there any place in the world where embassy staff actually go out in the streets and interact with ordinary people... even in the cities, let alone out in the countryside? It would be unthinkable here; their morass of security regulations wouldn't begin to allow it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
*My impression based upon the little that I know is that the good listeners and empaths amongst the FSO corps tend to gravitate towards the positions that deal with aiding Americans in distress abroad.
In the places I'm familiar with American Citizen Services is typically staffed by the youngest of the young. It seems like it's a post nobody else wants, thus pushed off on the least senior as a necessary rite of passage on the way to bigger and better things.
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Old 06-01-2012   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
In the places I'm familiar with American Citizen Services is typically staffed by the youngest of the young. It seems like it's a post nobody else wants, thus pushed off on the least senior as a necessary rite of passage on the way to bigger and better things.
Is American Citizen Services the same as Consular Affairs? I should try and learn about the workings of the State Department but their employees make me uneasy in the way that dentists do most other people. It’s a legacy of having lived in Central America in the early ’90s, where public opinion of the U.S. Department of State was neck–in–neck with that of the CIA.
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Old 06-08-2012   #77
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Default Some light cast on the puzzle that is the Yemen Part 2

In Part 1 in The Frontline video report there was a short clip of Yemeni town that was defending itself from AQAP, IIRC it was Lawdar.

Al-Jazeera has a good summary piece 'Making sense of Yemen's feuding factions' and refers to such self-defence activity:
Quote:
Local Popular Resistance Committees, made up of tribal militia fighters from various southern regions, are also fighting al-Qaeda in the current offensive. They have been attributed with successes against the group, using their local knowledge and warfare tactics. Not much is known about these groups, as most announcements on the war are made by Yemeni authorites. Some of the groups may be made up of southern seccessionist fighters, who, although seeking independence from the northern government, are also opposed to al-Qaeda.
In such a complicated environment I am not surprised that such groups are not supported by the divided Yemeni state. Should others engage with them? Yemen is not Afghanistan nor Iraq, if these groups multiply, we would be mistaken not to have links with them - a "bottom up", people-based approach COIN advocates wish for.
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Old 06-21-2012   #78
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Default A positive view

An optimistic commentary by a "boots on the ground" observer; which starts with:
Quote:
Although the GCC supported transitional regime has not turned Yemen into a revolutionary state, by comparison with what is happening elsewhere, the situation at the moment shows more positive signs than could have been expected: the forces of the uprisings are working to participate in the national dialogue, the transitional regime is working to weaken and remove most of the remnants of the previous era and is preparing for a new and hopefully more democratic future.
I liked this - hence emphasis, even if without details:
Quote:
Secondly, thanks to the new military leadership which is seriously committed to putting an end to the fundamentalist insurrection, the rebels have been dislodged from their stronghold in Abyan Governorate, pushing them back into Shabwa which was their main base for a number of years. Immediately after this achievement last week, moves have started in Shabwa and already some of their strongholds are falling, thanks to the establishment of local ‘popular committees’ who are ‘encouraging’ them to leave.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/helen-l...to-be-followed
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Old 06-28-2012   #79
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Default A year later - time for a review

CWOT and his colleague have returned to this issue, which is within the wider, global debate over the use of drones and the US strategy to pursue terrorism.
SWC has a long running thread on drones 'Using drones: principles, tactics and results': http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7385

Quote:
Building on their past work on Yemen and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Watts and Cilluffo revisit the use of drones in Yemen, offering context to ongoing debates about U.S. counterterrorism strategy as well as recommendations regarding the way forward. The authors review what drones and Special Operations Forces (SOF) have accomplished over the past year, explore why AQAP has continued to thrive, and explain what critics of drones misunderstand about operations in Yemen. Watts and Cilluffo go on to urge continued improvement of intelligence to better the accuracy of drone strikes, and argue in favor of greater transparency and accountability in drone operations. The authors recognize that "drones alone cannot entirely defeat AQAP," and call for the development of "a larger, long-run strategy...for pursuing U.S. counterterrorism objectives in Yemen."
Link:http://www.gwumc.edu/hspi/policy/iss...208_Drones.cfm
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Old 06-29-2012   #80
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Default Info Ops in Yemen: how effective in Yemen?

Hat tip to Jihadica for a perplexing story on US information operations (IO) in the Yemen, which is almost an IO itself.

Quote:
Several months ago, President Obama signed an executive order establishing an interagency center to coordinate the US government’s public messages against terrorist organizations. A major component of this Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was in the news lately for its clever campaign against AQAP on Yemeni tribal forums.
Link:http://www.jihadica.com/state-depts-...da-propaganda/

It sounds on-target at first:
Quote:
...the State Department has for a year and a half now tried to counter Al Qaeda's affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula by rhetorically shooting down the group's propaganda when it pops up on Yemeni tribal forum websites....Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll Al Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,
Except that:
Quote:
...in many places in Yemen there is no Internet or even electricity
The linked story is:http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign...-war-is-fierce

On the broader aspects back to Jihadica:
Quote:
More broadly, people are unaware of the complexities of government messaging against terrorist organizations. To shed light on these subjects, the first coordinator of the CSCC, Ambassador Richard LeBaron (now retired), has given me permission to post his recent remarks on what he learned during his tenure. It’s very instructive for anyone interested in counter-propaganda and how the US government is coping with the new information environment.
Link to the remarks is embedded and is in docx format - so unread by moi,
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