The Fall of Yemen
February 11, 2015 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Yemen has fallen. In a striking series of events which has largely flown under the radar except in occasional cable-tv news blurbs -- the nominally pro-Western government of Yemen has been overthrown by Iranian-backed militants. American and British forces have hastily "evacuated" -- an evacuation which may, perhaps, be interpreted as a retreat. Militants have seized abandoned American weapon stockpiles, and a massive defeat for the United States and her allies has gone virtually unnoticed.

Yemen has been a focus of President Obama's ongoing war on Islamic militancy. Both the United States military and the CIA were known to operate secret bases within the Arabian peninsula, and to carry out "targeted killings" against alleged Al-Qaeda operatives from these bases "with the blessing of the [former Yemeni] government".

It is possible, ironically, that the ongoing strikes against Al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen (in which an estimated 90-140 civilians have been killed, many of whom were children) may have damaged the Sunni militancy enough to inadvertently strengthen Iran's position in the country.
posted by Avenger (80 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
We've sown so many failed states in the past couple of decades, it's pretty breathtaking. Next up, Ukraine.
posted by Auden at 6:50 PM on February 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


This goes to the core of why the US position in the middle east is so fragile.

Honestly, Iran and the US are natural allies. Once they realize it, Russia and Saudi Arabia are sooooo fucked.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:50 PM on February 11, 2015 [24 favorites]


What makes them natural allies?
posted by I-Write-Essays at 6:55 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's going to be another busy year. Put on your seatbelts.
posted by glaucon at 6:57 PM on February 11, 2015


"Yemen is like the moon to Egypt, but it is important because of Cairo’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, to whom Yemen is a priority issue..."

Really not sure if it is about US anymore. I thought "natural allies" infers geographic boundaries along with a shared common interest in general terminology.
posted by clavdivs at 6:58 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, we are often in agreement about Israel. /sarcasm
posted by Brocktoon at 7:02 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


"In general terms" rather.
posted by clavdivs at 7:03 PM on February 11, 2015


Militants have seized abandoned American weapon stockpiles,

The article at the link says nothing like that.
posted by rtha at 7:04 PM on February 11, 2015


A land war in Asia? Who could have guessed?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:07 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regime change in Yemen is always dicey. When Yemen flipped to Judaism under Tub'a Abu Kariba As'ad, it triggered a succession of wars and a regional instability that ended in the final, climactic battle between Rome and Persia, with Persia losing quite badly, descending into into civil war, losing much of its regional influence in the Arabian Peninsula, and thereby failing to prevent the unification of the Arabs through Islam.
posted by meehawl at 7:08 PM on February 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


What makes them natural allies?

Well, according to several of my relatives on Facebook, both countries are led by Muslims who hate Israel.
posted by escabeche at 7:13 PM on February 11, 2015 [107 favorites]


A land war in Asia? Who could have guessed?

By turns amusing and annoying that some basement-dwelling conehead uses a Risk analogy to explain the concept. Also highlights the shortcomings of Quora.
posted by Nevin at 7:14 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


No mention of seized stock piles and how is this a "...massive defeat for the United States and her allies has gone virtually unnoticed.

We still have SF in Yemen. And the story is hardly unnoticed.
Saudis are gearing up and Egypt is fueling up its navy.
posted by clavdivs at 7:15 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


What makes them natural allies?

I just spent a week at a biannual conference for the organization I work at part-time. There were 150 people from 66 countries there. I came to truly appreciate that we are all brothers and sisters on this planet.
posted by Nevin at 7:15 PM on February 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is terrible.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:17 PM on February 11, 2015


More American narcissism: anything/everything that happens in Yemen is the creation of the US government.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:19 PM on February 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


So, how many tragic potential WWWIII trigger-spots are we going to rack up this calendar year? Can we start a betting pool?

(joking about betting pool, not about tragedy or WWIII)
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 7:22 PM on February 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I'm not sure what happened with that link. Here's the weapon's story: Official: Houthis take U.S. vehicles, weapons in Yemen.
posted by Avenger at 7:24 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the BBC link in the FPP: The US military pulled out virtually all of its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003, having stationed between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in the Gulf kingdom after the 1991 Gulf war. Only personnel from the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) officially remain.

Wasn't one of Al-Qaeda's stated goals for the 9-11 attacks to force the US from Saudi Arabia?

I think what mr_roboto was getting at is that Saudi Arabia is the wellspring for a lot of this. This is a gross oversimplification to say, but in very broad terms true: Iran, not so much.

Iran has functioned as a better boogeyman because of the US hostage crisis. It's worth noting that the Argo story was a gross fabrication. There was no chase on the runway at the airport. The US embassy staff waited nervously for their flight, and got on. That was it.

Unfortunately, our federal government has expended any and all goodwill with Iran, a country with whom we should have been forging closer ties with, rather than Saudi Arabia. Because the Saudi government is essentially ISIS. This doesn't diminish Iran's human rights abuses by any stretch of the imagination. It does, however, demonstrate an absolute failure to understand the region on the part of our respective governments, and a complete lack of commitment to supporting democratic movements there when push comes to shove.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:25 PM on February 11, 2015 [25 favorites]


I have long been of the opinion that whoever comes to power wherever and under whatever banner in the Middle East will need cash flow. That naturally means producing and selling oil, maybe even with our help. So, problem solved without ever lifting a finger. And if they don't have any oil? Then who gives a sh*t. And why is this not a workable solution? Because Israel doesn't have any oil...
posted by jim in austin at 7:25 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


That naturally means producing and selling oil

Yep. The fundamental problem is the problem of the rentier state:

It is no coincidence that the few oppositional stirrings the Kingdom had witnessed in the 1960s largely stopped in the 1970s. The omnipresent state used its resources to buy off potential opponents and envelop society in ever-expanding networks of formal and informal patronage.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:30 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


How Not To Analyze Yemen
None of this subtlety is apparent in the Washington Post‘s appraisal of the situation:

“Yemen’s politics are beyond byzantine, but it’s not hard to understand what is happening here: Iran’s clients, who happen to have adopted the same “death to America” slogan as Hezbollah, are imitating the Lebanese Shiite party’s strategy of establishing a chokehold on a weak Sunni government.”

This sentence is baffling. How is the Yemeni government “a weak Sunni government” when Hadi is the former Vice-President of deposed autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is a Zaidi Shi’i Muslim? Sectarianism can be important, but reading Yemeni politics through such a lens makes very little sense. If Shi’i and Sunni antagonisms were absolute in Yemen, then why would Saleh have mobilized against the Houthis during the Sa’ada Wars, and later pursued ties with Sunni tribal leader Abdullah al-Ahmar? It is also confusing that the Post thinks that broad similarities in the political visions and command structures of the Houthis and Hizb’Allah are irrefutably proven with the phrase “happen to have adopted the same “death to America” slogan.” There is a smart article to be written that compares the two groups, but sharing a Shi’i revolutionary slogan is not evidence of an overlap.

This is nitpicking, and avoids the most important question. Why is a major, and deeply influential, newspaper allowed to dismiss an entire country’s politics as “beyond byzantine,” before launching into an inaccurate reading of the situation? The New York Times goes further, repeating the Post‘s misreading of Yemeni sectarianism when it says that “if the Houthis attempt to govern the majority-Sunni nation, the Qaeda affiliate would almost certainly gain more support.” The Times creates a world where Yemen is neatly divided between these two groups, with no other actors involved. There is no mention of the southern separatists Hirak. There is no discussion about immense tribal federations like Hashid and Bakil. Not to mention the revolutionaries who are still pressing for change. These people are all erased for the sake of a simple portrayal of Yemen as a country of Iranian proxies and Sunni extremists.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:31 PM on February 11, 2015 [47 favorites]


The OP seems to be a bit hyperbolic. Yes Yemen may have fallen, but only in the context of the larger Sunni/Shia conflict. I don't think it changes the larger strategy of the US in fighting AQAP, although it will impact the tactical approach they take.

And although Yemen is currently controled by thw Houthi, as others have noted, the Saudis and Egyptians have yet to really get too overtly involved. That maybe in part due to US, or it maybe because both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been to distracted by their own internal political transitions. Either way,its left enough apace for the Shia minoriry to assert itself. We'll see how capable they are to control the country as a religous minority.
posted by herda05 at 7:32 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just spent a week at a biannual conference for the organization I work at part-time. There were 150 people from 66 countries there. I came to truly appreciate that we are all brothers and sisters on this planet.

I'm sick at heart today from the cold-blooded murders of three young people in my town, and this is the cure. Thanks.
posted by thelonius at 7:39 PM on February 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm old enough to remember when we (the US) had great relations with Iran. I was in grade school when the whole thing went pear-shaped, and an awesome Iranian friend of mine and his super cool parents for some reason had to go back.

I never found out what happened to him at all, and it bugs me to this day. Thirty some years ago, and all I remember is that he was a small dude like me, and he really liked the Beatles, oh, and he was a huge Carlin and Newhart guy. Well, kid. My parents were massive Beatles fans and I have a vague recollection of taking the school bus home with him where I brought over what I seem to remember was a shopping bag of Beatles albums for the dad to bootleg.

I never saw any of them again, but I remember that smell of whatever dish Mom was cooking before we got there, I want to say it was chicken, but it was 35 years ago. In my head this was a week before Lennon got shot, even though I know it was a year or so.

I think I remember his name, but I don't want to post it.

The fall of the Shah is on an historical note with any of the power seizes in Russia/CCCP . That was a massive shift in the global power structure.

herda05: "The OP seems to be a bit hyperbolic."
Concur.
posted by Sphinx at 7:47 PM on February 11, 2015 [16 favorites]




Armed rebels in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa seized U.S. embassy vehicles Wednesday after diplomats fled the country over growing unrest.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren confirmed that the vehicles were taken by Houthi rebels after embassy personnel and U.S. Marines guarding the embassy evacuated.
That's... really not very "massive" when you get down to it. And given that the Marines destroyed the heavy weapons before they left what it boils down to is grand theft auto.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:47 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here is the slogan of the group that is taking over Yemen:

"God is great; Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews; Victory to Islam."

As far as good news sources, if memory serves this guy was in the country for a while.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:49 PM on February 11, 2015


I was fantasizing the other day about what would happen if there was a coordinated set of airstrikes on all the weapons building facilities of the world. Just one night, swoop in and destroy the capability of humans to make guns and ammunition. It probably wouldn't be too hard to do. Deny everyone currently on a bloody rampage the ability to impose and enforce their tyrannical view of the world with guns and let the displaced people back home. Two million Syrian refugees armed with sticks and white hot anger would overrun a weaponless ISIS in no time. Ditto for everywhere else.

Or something. Because otherwise, despair. :-(
posted by salishsea at 7:53 PM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now, I know these people say that they represent Islam, but as we learned from the ISIL situation, we know better than that.
posted by rr at 7:56 PM on February 11, 2015


Unfortunately, our federal government has expended any and all goodwill with Iran, a country with whom we should have been forging closer ties with, rather than Saudi Arabia.

You mean when they aren't murdering Canadian-Iranian journalists? Yes, what a waste of "goodwill."
posted by Behemoth at 7:59 PM on February 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


A buddy of mines mother was born in Iran and Sphinxs' story resonates esp. About cooking...the terraced garden. Fear in the eyes after '79. Probably the only kid who did not have a Xerox Mickey Mouse middle finger flyer.
I'm with the posters above, the more diverse the better.
posted by clavdivs at 7:59 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


it may come as a surprise to most americans, who know that christianity is split into catholics and protestants, but that the orthodox are all actually puppets of rome, and lutherans and southern baptists hold private joint dance-a-thons where they plot terrorist actions... but the Houthis are a Zaidi Shia militia. The Zaidi are known as "Fivers." This is vs. the "Twelvers" in Iraq and Iran i.e. calling them Shia like Iran says nothing except that you are ignorant.

anyway, we should be glad, since both the FIvers and the Twelvers really hate Al-Qaeda, right?

Also, all of the statements linking the Houthis strongly with Iran stink of propaganda. The news source in Al-Jazeera for Hezbollah actively aiding the Houthis comes from "Asharq Al-Awsat" which is a London based paper owned by a member of the Saudi Royal family. How reliable a source do you think that is?
posted by ennui.bz at 8:12 PM on February 11, 2015 [21 favorites]


Iran being anti-Israel is mostly a post-1979 thing. The majority of Iranians are neither of Arab ethnicity nor Sunni Arabs, unlike most of the Mideast; they would make them less in common with most of the nations most sympathetic with the Palestinian cause. Not to mention the friendship between Persians and Jews stretches back for centuries.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:19 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, no news source located in a gulf Arab state is going to give anything approaching accurate information about Yemen. You can expect honest reporting about Yemen from Al-Jazeera when Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani has a stroke and wakes up convinced he's the Mahdi...
posted by ennui.bz at 8:24 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Behemoth: You mean when they aren't murdering Canadian-Iranian journalists? Yes, what a waste of "goodwill."

This is a great point. "Goodwill" was a shitty choice of words on my part. I should have said "diplomatic relations."

But the murder of Zahra Kazemi was decidedly not the reason why Canada severed its diplomatic relations with Iran. That didn't happen until almost ten years later - it was for other reasons.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:28 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is an insanely complicated situation. To understand this better one should read up on recent Yemeni history ging back to the first US war against Iraq, the reunification of North and South Yemen, the insurgency in the hadromount, the rise of AQAP, the arab spring and fall of Ali Saleh's presidency and recent machinations.
posted by humanfont at 8:29 PM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]




Their "death to America and Israel" posturing means nothing. If I woke up tomorrow morning and said to myself, under my blankets, "death to Malaysia!" it would be approximately as much of a threat. They have no air force, no navy, and they are governing a state on the edge of failure with a huge refugee population, large numbers of IDPs, and not enough water to sustain itself. Focusing on their chest-beating slogans is looking at stuff even they probably don't expect anyone to credit.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:42 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


i had a conversation on chatroulette a few months ago with an elderly iranian man. it might be worth mentioning that this was on at the tail end of an evening i had spent on mdma. his face popped up in the chat window, and he gazed at the screen, evaluated me, and held up a pipe he was smoking.

it showed his location with his profile information, so i opened with the only farsi i know: "marg bar amrika"

he smiled, thought, and replied with something along the lines of "no, i like the american people! death only to their criminal government"

i laughed, and he saluted me slowly with two fingers, then hit the 'next' button and blinked away.

i think about that guy a lot
posted by p3on at 8:43 PM on February 11, 2015 [39 favorites]


You mean when they aren't murdering Canadian-Iranian journalists? Yes, what a waste of "goodwill."

And the US has tortured some Muslims to death. Nobody's perfect!
posted by Drinky Die at 8:49 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems to me one of the great ironies of modern Western involvement in the ME may be that, because of cold war paranoia over the Soviet Union, the West repeatedly turned some of its greatest potential allies (secularist, democratic Marxists such as the PDRY) into enemies, and in doing so collaborated with royalists, fascists, and Islamists. The Shah and his Western backers were more afraid of a Marxist revolution than the Islamists - in fact the Iranian revolution at first included democratic and Marxist opposition groups. Time and again, corrupt regimes have purposefully allowed Islamist movements to grow and thrive as a counterweight and greater evil justifying corrupt regimes' continued oppression and suppression of democracy: the Shah, Assad, and al-Maliki are examples. Time and again, they underestimate the organizational capabilities of Islamists they collaborate with, who end up taking power in the end.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:54 PM on February 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


The real news hidden in this post, is that America is female, who knew? Yemen is a little, bitty, very poor country. Did you ever see Bambi vs Godzilla? That's what happens next.

This tempest in a tiny cracked teapot will resolve. I laughed out loud the other day when I read their slogan. It struck me like, "Say something Hamid! They have camera rolling. Hold up rifle!"
posted by Oyéah at 9:13 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yemen Has Fallen! (But it only skinned its knee.)
posted by Oyéah at 9:16 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Their "death to America and Israel" posturing means nothing.

It means a good deal to individuals who get murdered as a consequence.

Incidentally, you left out the bit about "damnation to the Jews". I understand that all or mostly all surviving Jews in Yemen have fled or been evacuated. That ends a culture which is more than two thousand years old; the world has become a little bit poorer in consequence.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:23 PM on February 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


That culture is disrupted and will return when things settle down. I remember a NOVA about the human genome project, and Yemeni Jews who left because of drought long ago. They settled inland of Mozambique, and held onto both Jewish customs and some African animist things. The Jews wanted to disown them, but the genome project revealed they carred the Cohenim gene, and they were of Jewish descent. We all have to bug out fom time to time.
posted by Oyéah at 9:48 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regions with significant populations
Israel 350,000
United States 30,000
United Kingdom 5,000
Yemen 90 (est.)

"the world has become a little bit poorer in consequence."

I tend to agree but look to what is Instead of what was in a complex culture historically. For example:

" This diversity interested Idan and influenced him to learn about cultures through his musical talents. Yemenite Jews who lived on the southern border of the Arabian Peninsula indicate a long history of traditions through their music."
posted by clavdivs at 10:19 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Isn't Yemen where the US first used a weaponized predator drone to assassinate someone, and then later used weaponized drones to execute American citizens without a trial?
posted by furtive at 10:19 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


No and "you have to ask Google or Dick Cheney, the former will give a more concise answer."
posted by clavdivs at 10:48 PM on February 11, 2015


Yes, you are thinking of Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, both of whom Obama killed by drone strike. The US had used cluster munitions there a while back, as well.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:50 PM on February 11, 2015


Weaponized drone strikes began quite a bit before 2011, furtive, mainly in Afghanistan and then Pakistan.

If you like, you can read the dismissal of Al-Awlaki's father's lawsuit against the U.S. at the ACLU's website. It doesn't seem particularly germane to the current situation, though.

In any event, the coup seems particularly related to the longstanding divisions between North and South Yemen, and the Houthis have pretty much managed to keep AQAP from taking much of their territory (they have taken areas in the former South, and the status of the Saleh government was particularly difficult given the location of Sana'a in the middle of Houthi territory). It's really early days to say which way regional strategy might go under the new regime. I mean, even Iran is at the table with the US these days, to the enormous pique of certain elements of the US Congress. Yemen is unlikely to suddenly throw in its lot with ISIL, for example, and if the conflict with AQAP remains hot, they are going to have precious few avenues for support in that fight that don't put them in largely the same strategic silo as they currently occupy.
posted by dhartung at 11:25 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember a NOVA about the human genome project, and Yemeni Jews who left because of drought long ago.

The casual online discussions about "Jews and race" and DNA and so on give me the creeps.
posted by Nevin at 11:28 PM on February 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Time and again, they underestimate the organizational capabilities of Islamists they collaborate with, who end up taking power in the end.

It sounds like the West should start collaborating with Marxists again, comrade. Worked for World War II.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:35 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, have they taken Toronto? Are they about to? I mean Toronto also is in an unstable state of unrest, with a corrupt government...
posted by happyroach at 11:53 PM on February 11, 2015


Isn't Yemen where the US first used a weaponized predator drone to assassinate someone, and then later used weaponized drones to execute American citizens without a trial?

Dunno. But it was in Yemen that the US last month burned a 13-year-old boy to death. You would have noticed it had he been a Jordanian pilot.
posted by fredludd at 12:11 AM on February 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


No, you see
First we take Manhattan
Then we take Berlin.
posted by clavdivs at 12:15 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


But it was in Yemen that the US last month burned a 13-year-old boy to death. You would have noticed it had he been a Jordanian pilot.

Jesus. Sometimes the US military resembles nothing so much as a small town hick police department with access to high tech remote weaponry and a global reach. It's like Ferguson on a global scale. I bet that drone operator was in fear for his life when he pressed the trigger.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:22 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


That how not to analyse Yemen piece was terrific, thanks for sharing MoTaT.
posted by smoke at 2:57 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]




mr_roboto : "Iran and the US are natural allies. Once they realize it, Russia and Saudi Arabia are sooooo fucked."

Because a Shia vs Sunni war spanning the Middle East really serves anybody interests. Except the weapons manufactures.

We dream about drones, said 13-year-old Yemeni before his death in a CIA strike
posted by jeffburdges at 3:48 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


One could maybe claim that Iran and the US are inadvertent allies. In fact, Iran's nuclear weapons program was accidentally aided, nay build form almost nothing, by the CIA.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:02 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


ISIS is simply worse than Iran and by extension fuck Saudi Arabia. Iran and pre-war Iraq were far more western and pro-America than we want to believe.

The Saudis are financing ISIS and the Talib and were the puppet dictators for Iraq before Saddam took power. At US-Britain behest. Now if you think pre-ayatollah Iran was a pleasant thing to US interests, consider that England begged and pleaded with us to help them overthrow a democratically elected pro-nationalization of oil leader to reinstall the Shah. Consider that BP originally existed solely to rape the oil wealth of Iran at 16% of the proceeds going to Iran.
posted by aydeejones at 5:40 AM on February 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


And we overthrew the elected president of Iran for British petroleum. The same company that is responsible for massive oceanic and human murder via corexit and the uhh, spill. But don't worry it's a different lowercase "bp" now
posted by aydeejones at 5:41 AM on February 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


New WWII style poster: when you drive with gasoline, you fund ISIS
posted by aydeejones at 5:45 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


We've sown so many failed states in the past couple of decades, it's pretty breathtaking. Next up, Ukraine.

All of which is something to consider seriously of one is seriously considering voting for Obama's former Secretary of State.

Sometimes the US military resembles nothing so much as a small town hick police department with access to high tech remote weaponry and a global reach. It's like Ferguson on a global scale.

Difference being, they're just doing the job the president ordered them to do.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:32 AM on February 12, 2015


The real news hidden in this post, is that America is female, who knew?

TMYK
posted by entropicamericana at 6:34 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Difference being, they're just doing the job the president ordered them to do.

damn, you're right. I'm gonna vote Republican to stop the wars and end the drone strikes
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:39 AM on February 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yemen is a place I have wandered over endlessly on Google Earth. The landscape around Wadi Doan is very much like the canyons of southern Utah, only with ancient mesa top fortresses, and high rise houses with excellent color and design. Whatever the society is like, the beauty is abundant in their lives.

It is unfortunate they have to be a pull toy for opposing interests. In real estate the cry is always location, location, location!
posted by Oyéah at 8:23 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Has War Nerd chimed in yet?
posted by ocschwar at 8:26 AM on February 12, 2015


dhartung: the incident in Yemen I'm referring to happened well before 2011.

Wikipedia: On 3 November 2002, a Hellfire missile was fired [from a Predator drone] at a car in Yemen, killing Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, an al-Qaeda leader thought to be responsible for the USS Cole bombing. It was the first direct U.S. strike in the War on Terrorism outside Afghanistan.

The other two incidents of democide did happen in 2011.
posted by furtive at 8:34 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Has War Nerd chimed in yet?

Not on the recent developments, but from 2002: The War Nerd Looks At Yemen and from 2010: Cakewalking Into Yemen: One More Chapter In The Decline & Dementia Of America's War Party
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it be cool if the Houthis took out AQY? Or is AQY working for the big northern neighbor?

When I studied Yemen I was struck by the issues of poverty and low literacy, not to mention the way women live there. This is the nation where an eight year old girl was given in marriage to a 28 year old man, and at nine years old used her butter and egg money to take a bus to Sana and obtain a divorce.

This is a classic example of very poor people, living on beach front property, along a major waterway, which makes them toast. Inconvienient poor people, living on high value landscape, will be evilized one way or the other, to make the land grab look legit, "its just binness, its how binness is done!" The bigger problem is the rising world population makes all land more valuable and war will happen over the inconvenient residents until "reconstruction" makes it all what, empty of the valuable resource desired, or developed so original dwellers will be living in shanties.

Interesting place though, meteor craters on the coast, great canyons, deserts, areas of ancient volcanism, long coastline. In fact it is like Utah would be with a beach.
posted by Oyéah at 9:03 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


This whole thing has been a regular feature of my news for the last couple months; didn't know it was "under the radar." It's a little weird to see this described in such sweeping international terms since Yemen has never been much of a coherent state to begin with. I hope this doesn't lead to a resumption of the civil war, but it seems like it's split along the same lines again.
posted by klangklangston at 9:16 AM on February 12, 2015




In fact it is like Utah would be with a beach.

Right down to the religious fanatics.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:14 AM on February 12, 2015


Cakewalking Into Yemen: One More Chapter In The Decline & Dementia Of America's War Party

This appears to be by Mark Ames. Isn't the War Nerd Gary Brecher/John Dolan?
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2015


I really enjoyed two posts by Maciej Ceglowski (of Pinboard fame) when he visited Yemen last year. He went to Sana'a and then into the Yemeni interior. I don't know if he'll write any more posts on the topic but I hope so.

He's a great writer and manages to get a pretty good ground level view of the mood of the country at the time, at least as it appears to a Westerner. It looks like a beautiful place.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2015


"Just one night, swoop in and destroy the capability of humans to make guns and ammunition. It probably wouldn't be too hard to do. Deny everyone currently on a bloody rampage the ability to impose and enforce their tyrannical view of the world with guns..."

This is a neat, but an impossible for so many reasons idea, not the least of which being it would involve bombing many on the United States strongest allies, as well as targeting many states themselves. But even if we ignore that and just say that every major manufacturer for an allied nation agreed to stop, so we only bombed what we considered enemy targets, and for the sake of argument, let's say we actually knew where all the hidden ones were so we could truly stop all weapons manufacturing plants in a day.

It would take the world a couple of days to recover from such a shockingly broad and precision attack, and then a week or two later, we'd be back to making small arms. You see, it's trivially easy to build a firearm, anyone with a working knowledge of how to use a machine shop could make a fully automatic machine gun right now. It wouldn't be pretty, but it'd be able to shoot. Same with ammunition.

Also, all the guns that are already in the field are probably going to last for years and years, and the side with the most is just going to become more and more Master-Blaster while the unarmed around them either die or join up. Sadly the people who have the most guns are rarely the people you want in charge.

Now, you could put a huge dent in non-small-arms manufacturing, but that would just mean that enemies would have to get closer to each other, and in the history of the world, we've never seen that as a deterrent.

It would be cool though.

(I have a series of short stories that take place hundreds of years after some apocalyptic event, and guns have been banned by all religions, so even seeing someone with one is grounds for killing them. Because the only way to really get rid of firearms is to remove the willingness to tolerate their existence at the core moral level. But as I was writing I realized that a lot of the power that came from guns could just as easily be paralleled by archers. Not relevant here, but it might explain why I've put a lot of thought into this.")
posted by quin at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2015






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