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Old 06-27-2011   #41
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Default Yemen: the way ahead?

Clint,

As the main thread on the Yemen has referred to IIRC the Yemen has used the AQ threat to secure US support, when in fact AQAP was not a substantive threat to the Yemen:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=12784

Your paper clearly shows there is an AQAP threat beyond the Yemen, notably to the USA and others from a very small cell within AQAP. For a host of reasons this high value target group we have assumed are located in the empty spaces or lightly populated areas. Will an ungoverned / failing Yemen state (not society) expand those sanctuaries?

My own "armchair" suspicion is that the target group will remain in the empty spaces. If they move to the towns your policy option is out, simply due to potential collateral damage IMO.

How much of AQAP is in fact Yemeni, Saudi and others?

The USA needs to have a far better information operations campaign in the Yemen to enable such a policy option of drones and SOF. Most Yemeni appear focussed on regime change and not AQAP's presence. How does such a campaign work in that society. It appears to be "We're AQAP hunting with all our resources, but are reluctant to help regime change".

Clearly drones and SOF action can go wrong, e.g. hitting a tribal wedding. How will the local population respond? A prompt apology and damage payments may help - elsewhere something the USA has been reluctant to do.

The important objective is to reduce the AQAP target group as they pose an external threat and not lose Yemeni neutrality or support.

As for your wider question that will have to wait and has been the subject of several threads methinks:
Quote:
We are also interested in how Yemen is indicative of future scenarios the U.S. will face and how we can identify alternative CT & COIN strategies that are effective and efficient in disrupting threats from failed and weak states.
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Old 07-15-2011   #42
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Default Countering AQAP in Yemen: Continued Debate

I posted the original introduction[/URL] to an article written by Frank Cilluffo and Clint Watts. The debate has continued on this topic and we would enjoy hearing the perspective of CT/COIN practitioners as we search for viable solutions to counter AQAP in Yemen.

Last week, Gregory Johnsen of Waq-al-Waq crafted a thoughtful response to our article “Yemen & Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Exploiting a Window of Counterterrorism Opportunity.” Below is our response to further what we believe to be a particularly important debate. We will begin by addressing Johnsen’s conclusion and then discuss each of his points individually. For each point of debate, we attributed original quotes from the article as Cilluffo and Watts and quotes from Gregory’s post at Waq al Waq as Johnsen.

Quote:
Johnsen- “I think this is what happens when smart people tackle a complex problem in an environment they don’t know particularly well. “
While we respect Johnsen’s knowledge of Yemen, we likewise believe his criticisms reflect what happens when smart regional experts encounter a complex enemy they don’t know particularly well.

Ten years of American counterterrorism efforts demonstrate that the best way to defeat al Qaeda is to go directly after al Qaeda. Bin Laden’s personal notes articulate that building schools in Afghanistan didn’t slow down al Qaeda but drone strikes halted many of their operations. Johnsen’s title “The Allure of Simple Solutions” suggests the only way to deter AQAP in the near term is via a complex solution instituted through a failed Saleh regime or its successor. Pursuing such a solution will fail to stop AQAP’s immediate threat to the United States and is not feasible in light of the current situation in Yemen.

As we noted in our original article, we believe our recommendation is neither comprehensive nor simple, but instead the best option for achieving immediate U.S. national security interests with regards to AQAP. If we’ve learned anything from the past ten years, it is ‘yes’ sometimes simple (as distinguished from simplistic) strategies with clear goals and objectives work far better in achieving our near term interests than costly, complex strategies spread across convoluted bureaucracies. Increased use of drone and SOF forces, when executed as designed, can help eliminate the immediate threat of AQAP and improve U.S. options for pursuing a long-run Yemen strategy less encumbered by counterterrorism concerns.

We respect Johnsen’s opinions and rely on his analysis of Yemen to improve our perspective. However, we have yet to see any other feasible near or long-term U.S. strategy for mitigating the threat of AQAP. We welcome any feasible alternative solution put forth. However, until that time, the U.S. must protect its citizens and interests. The AQAP threat remains acute and inaction is not an option.

We thank Gregory Johnsen for his thoughtful analysis and look forward to his policy recommendations with regards to Yemen. We’ll quickly respond to each of his individual points below with short rebuttals.

For the complete discussion on Dr. Gregory Johnsen's assumptions, we invite those interested to read further at the Homeland Security Policy Institute:
http://securitydebrief.com/2011/07/1...%80%99s-chaos/http://securitydebrief.com/2011/07/1...%80%99s-chaos/

Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-15-2011 at 01:23 PM. Reason: Post merged to original thread and edited 1st sentence.
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Old 07-16-2011   #43
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Default Change in Yemen: nothing is due to change

An Australian academic, Dr Sarah Philips, from the Centre for International Security Studies, University of Sydney, has published several papers on the crisis in Yemen, partly based on first-hand research in-country.

'Yemen: Developmental Dysfunction and Division in a Crisis State' (Feb 2011) is on:http://www.dlprog.org/ftp/download/P...is%20State.pdf

A summary:http://www.dlprog.org/ftp/download/P...20Division.pdf

Quote:
Deeply patrimonial systems of power are not transformed overnight, and many of Yemen’s structural and human barriers to developmental change remain in place. The defection of key members of the inner circle to the opposition was not in itself a signal that a more developmentally inclined elite is in the ascendant, although many of the young protesters have been articulating demands for a fundamental revision of the political system. Those who defected from Saleh’s inner circle have been instrumental in instilling the dysfunctional political settlement that brought Yemen to this point. By joining the protest movement they have not necessarily heralded a new era for the Yemeni people. Indeed, none has gone so far as to openly renounce the patrimonial system of government, or the ‘rules of the game’ that will shape the behaviour of anyone who might follow President Saleh.
This week IISS has published an extended edition of her work, Adelphi Paper 'Yemen and the Politics of Permanent Crisis' and earnt this review comment by Nabeel A. Khoury, director of the Near East South Asia Office of the US DoS bureau of political analysis:
Quote:
An important, timely and well-written book that delves into the country’s informal power structures and comprehensively addresses the Yemeni dilemma for Arab and Western governments.
Link:http://www.iiss.org/publications/ade...manent-crisis/
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Old 07-22-2011   #44
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Ten pages on the chaos in Yemen

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/ma...k-of-hell.html
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Old 08-01-2011   #45
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Default Try again, SWC may respond?

CWOT has tried to get a response on SWC with his two thoughtful comments, but to no avail - this does happen here and can be rather predictable.

Perhaps the linked SWJ article will prompt reflection and response(s). See 'Yemen: Testing a New Coordinated Approach to Preventive Counterinsurgency':http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...ew-coordinate/

Note please there are two threads on Yemen, 2010 & 2011, plus IIRC a couple of others.
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Old 09-23-2011   #46
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Default This guy really, really wants to run the show in Yemen.

Apparently Saleh wants to be in charge of things in Yemen until the day he dies. Fortunately for him any number of people are interested in helping make that happen.
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Old 09-30-2011   #47
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Default A dead cleric has what local impact?

From the BBC:
Quote:
US-born radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a key al-Qaeda leader, has been killed in Yemen, the country's defence ministry said.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15121879

No doubt much ink will be spilt on the demise. MY interest is the local impact inside the Yemen as it appears to lurch along, with neither of the many sides making gains and bloodshed notably in Sanaa.
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Old 11-11-2011   #48
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Default Yemen: gestures

The succession struggle in the Yemen has not gone away, although it certainly has faded from the news reporting here, probably the impact of events in Libya and Syria.

So hat tip to FP Blog for this article, which opens with:
Quote:
After being tricked into believing that Saleh would sign a Gulf Cooperation Council brokered power transfer deal three times, the international community has finally realized that Saleh has no intention of leaving power until at least 2013, the end of his official presidential term of office.
Leaving aside the machinations in the Yemen, which are covered, I was struck by this paragraph:
Quote:
Short of asking for foreign military intervention, which most protesters reject outright, Yemenis have done all they can to make their struggle known to those abroad. Fully aware of their own lack of coverage in the international media, Yemenis have sought to increase their visibility in the international community from the outset of the protest movement last February by providing English language resources to Western journalists, establishing committees made up of English language speakers to issue press releases and hold press conferences, and making sure every protest sign was in both English and Arabic.
I am sadly not convinced the outside world, let alone English language speakers, are listening and or watching.

As for the freezing of President Saleh's assets abroad, nice diplomatic gesture and of little value beyond a headline.

Link:http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/pos...saleh_s_assets
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Old 11-11-2011   #49
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Default

Two self-serving families compete for control of Yemen. Neither represent the will of the populace or show any indication of doing anything other than continuing the very unsustainable status quo. Meanwhile a wide range of nationalist insurgent movements rise from and draw support from the populace as a whole. Both families are willing to work with the West and to profit from the control of this bit of geo-strategically key terrain. This seduces us.

Into this F'd up mix comes AQ, smelling opportunity to get after their top two interests:
1. Take down the Saudi royal family;
2. Hurt the West enough to get us to break our support to the regimes of the region that we have helped sustain for so long.

Meanwhile Saudi insurgents flee to Yemen as the first "covered and concealed position" from Saudi Arabia. One can reasonably assume that those who stay close, rather than travel to Pakistan to work with AQ there, are most focused on nationalist issues at home in Saudi Arabia. Their issues are reasonable, even if their approaches are extreme. Sadly no reasonable approaches are available to them at home, so to Yemen they go (or simply disappear at home).

AQ conducts UW in support of members of both these groups primarily, but I suspect to a number of similarly motivated men from other nations in the region as well.

US "intelligence" lumps all of this under a single banner of "AQAP." They recommend CT against the lot, with little differentiation for purpose for action. I'd give a month's retirement pay as a Special Forces Colonel for a single intel officer above the grade of O5 who could carry on a 3 minute conversation with me about insurgency without reverting to tired cliché's and saying the words "ideology" or "AQ."

This isn't rocket science, it's people science and common sense. That is far too rare a commodity it seems. (Please excuse me a little Veteran's day venting, good men are being employed far less effectively than they could be, and we owe them better.)
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Old 12-06-2011   #50
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Default Safer in Somalia!

During a university-level discussion on US strategy post-9/11 Yemen was cited as an example of where the USA had intervened of late, a point that I would and did contest.

Today FP Blog has a short update on the delicate mix in the Yemen, which illustrates the USA has few options currently and the locals, sorry a local, President / non-President Saleh remains in power - note, not control:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...again?page=0,1

Short of time? This sums up the situation brilliantly:
Quote:
Somali refugees in Yemen are now returning to Somalia in larger numbers. Perhaps they know something that the international community doesn't.
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Old 01-24-2012   #51
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Default BBC Inside Al Qaeda's Yemen

Yemen appears to have disappeared from the limelight of late, even though President Saleh is bound for the USA, for medical treatment. So it was a surprise to hear a BBC reporter actually in southern Yemen reporting on the growth of jihadist control.

A podcast:http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today...00/9685172.stm

A written article:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programme...lk/9682753.stm
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Old 02-07-2012   #52
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Default Yemen after Saleh: between uncertainties and divisions

A different, detailed commentary. The agreement to remove President Saleh:
Quote:
..do(es) not appear to herald a break with the past and the beginning of a process of appeasement and democratization.

Indeed, although the caretaker government also contains elements belonging to the opposition, some weak points of the agreement drawn up in Saudi Arabia regarding the deep divisions within Yemeni society indicate not only the attempt by the Republican faction to maintain strong control over the country, but also that the initial protests of Yemeni citizens against their autocratic leadership have been gradually transmuted into a military conflict between the state and the tribal confederations, plunging Yemen into a more acute domestic crisis, with obvious repercussions at regional level.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/maria-s...-and-divisions

So the Yemen has a new government, which faces the same problems and decides on "more of the same" with "a few chairs changed on a sinking ship". Great result for diplomacy.
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Old 02-27-2012   #53
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Default U.S. Teaming With New Yemen Government on Strategy to Combat AQ

A grand sounding title from the NYT and:
Quote:
The plan’s two-pronged strategy calls for the United States and Yemen to work together to kill or capture about two dozen of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives, who are focused on attacking America and its interests.

At the same time, the administration will work with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to train and equip Yemeni security forces to counter the organization’s wider threat to destabilize the country and the government of its newly installed president, Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi.
I wish this idea well, but cannot think of a more hostile place to try it (OK Afghanistan, oh it works there):
Quote:
One main proposal, he said, is to pay Yemeni troops directly rather than through their commanders.....(Citing Mr O'Brennan) We’re trying to ensure that the aid is very tailored, so it goes to those units that are professional, that fall within a command and control structure that reports to Hadi, that are addressing Al Qaeda and domestic threats to Yemen, and are not engaged in any political shenanigans.
In response Gregory Johnsen, a Princeton scholar who closely tracks militants in Yemen.:
Quote:
Some independent analysts aso warned that the administration’s approach amounted to picking and choosing favorite Yemeni generals, which could backfire over time. “Any time the U.S. gets into where it’s favoring certain generals or trying to play generals off each other, it is a very dangerous game,” said
Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/wo..._r=1&ref=world
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Old 03-12-2012   #54
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Default Narratives and Strategies of AQAP

Somehow I missed the release of this RUSI report in December 2011, 'The Language of Jihad Narratives and Strategies of Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and UK Responses' and have just skimmed through it, looks like a very good read. It is 55 pgs and has chapters on
Quote:
Terrorism, Communication and Strategy; The History of AQAP; The Language of Jihad; Conclusions and Recommendations; Postscript
The authors aim to:
Quote:
...look to understand the situation in Yemen and the possibilities for AQAP gaining further traction in the region, through garnering a greater understanding of the underlying issues that allow such groups to operate.....What is certain is that AQAP will be watching closely to capitalise on any mistakes that are made and will bide their time ready to fill any vacuum that appears.
Link:http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets..._Jihad_web.pdf
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Old 03-18-2012   #55
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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   #56
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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   #57
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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   #58
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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 05-01-2012   #59
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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   #60
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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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