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Author Topic: The Yemen Crisis  (Read 760 times)
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« on: Dec 31, 2009 03:57 AM »

by Adnan Khan

What has led to the current crisis in Yemen?

The US-led war against terrorism entered a new phase in December 2009 when military action switched from Afghanistan to Yemen, the US launched Cruise missiles in concert with Yemen  government forces, who used tanks, helicopters and artillery to storm mountain villages suspected of harbouring Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Yemen appears to be facing multiple issues on various fronts, which the weak central government has failed to solve diplomatically and continues to use primarily military means to solve. Yemen faces civil war with it's largely Shi'ah population in the North. It faces secessionist calls in the South who are demanding a reversal of the 1990 unification of North and South Yemen. Yemen also apparently faces al-Qaeda attacks throughout the country. Yemen today is a nation that remains largely underdeveloped and is led by many different tribes, central government has been unable to change this reality.

Why is there Civil war in the North?

In 1962, an army coup ended centuries of rule by Shi'ah (Zaydi) imams, establishing the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), in north Yemen. The North looked for a union with the South due to its oil wealth. The two leaders - Ali Salim al-Baidh in the south and Ali Abdullah Saleh in the north - declared a union in May 1990. Electors in the north voted for an Islamic party, Islah, and Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC). In the south they elected Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) candidates. The lingering divisions between the North and South resulted in civil war in 1994 which ended in southern defeat. After the war the authorities in San'a pushed many southern military officers and civil servants into retirement, and replaced them with northerners. In August 2009 the Yemeni army launched a major offensive, dubbed Operation Scorched Earth, against Sa'ada, the Shi'ah in the North launched an uprising against the Yemeni government. Most of the fighting has taken place in Sa'dah Governorate in northwestern Yemen. The government claimed that the fighters, who are named after their leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seek to restore the Shi'ah imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962. The Houthi clan is part of the Zaydi madhab, a branch of the Shi'ah that is unique to Yemen. Most of the fighters are tribesmen who would probably put down their arms if they were given economic help by central government and concessions such as roads and schools. There is consensus in Sanaa that eventually the crisis in the north will have to be resolved through negotiations. But for the moment the central government's strategy is to force the rebels into a position of weakness so that they will accept a political settlement. This situation has been complicated by the involvement of Saudi forces on the side of the Yemeni government which in turn accuses Iran of backing the rebels.

Why are there Secessionist calls in South Yemen?

The 100,000 retired southern military officers and civil servants in 1994's civil war, only sporadically received their pensions. The former civil servants, who were forcibly retired, called for their reinstatement and increased pensions. These former officers formed the Society of Retired Military Officers (SRMO) and began a series of sit-ins and protest marches. Southern demands now include more employment opportunities, an end to corruption, and a larger share of oil revenues for Southern Provinces. By mid-2009 the Southern movement had begun to demand secession and the re-establishment of a southern state. In June 2009, the Southern Movement reportedly appointed a five-person Council for the Leadership of the Peaceful Revolution of the South. There are increasing tensions between "southerners" and the Shi'ah in the south, who see themselves as culturally distinct from each other. Human rights watch outlined the reason for this: "There are elites in south Yemen who feel marginalised, but the groups they head represent real grievances of the people. The people want lower prices, better services, and more employment. That is the reason they line up behind the secessionist slogans." (‘In the name of unity', Human Rights Watch report, December 2009).

The Al Qaeda threat?

Yemen was home to many of the Mujahideen who fought against the Soviet Union when they invaded Afghanistan. Many Mujahideen returned to Yemen after the conflict ended. At the end of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union training camps flourished in Yemen for much of the 1990's. One of these - at Huttat in southern Yemen - was the base for the Army of Aden-Abyan. As the US manhunt for the Mujahideen (who the US has termed as al Qaeda operatives) around the world after 9/11 intensified, Yemen was given an ultimatum to join America's crusade against the Ummah. Like Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, President Ali Abdullah Saleh capitulated to US demands and as part of the deal agreed with President Bush he accepted US aid in return for promising to round up the former Mujahideen. The government in San'a needed the help of the Mujahideen in the 1994 civil war against the South - mainly former Marxists - who were attempting to secede. This all changed when the USS Cole in Aden was attacked in October 2000 where 17 American sailors were killed. 9/11 only intensified US demands on Yemen.

How much of the Crisis is due to foreign interference?

Both Saudi Arabia and the Yemen government have attempted to link the Houthis's to Iran, the evidence being that both are Shi'ah even thought the Yemen Shi'ah are Zaydi, whilst Iran is largely Itna Ashar'I (twelvers). Saudi Arabia has long been troubled by Yemen's increasing lawlessness, its porous border, and the ability of local villagers to cross at will. Saudi Arabia is currently enforcing a 10 km-deep buffer zone inside the Yemeni border.

On orders from President Barack Obama, the US military launched cruise missiles on the 20th December 2009 against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen. The US has now directly intervened in Yemen. The US has until now used a carrot and tick approach with the Yemeni government. Special Forces trained with American help have carried out attacks based on US intelligence ever since Ali Abdullah Saleh joined America's war on terror. Such attacks by the US military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration's campaign in the region.

Does the US have strategic interests in the region?

The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden for the US and any power will always represent an important strategic waterway. Over 30% of all crude oil and over 10% of global trade pass through this region. The US has also failed to achieve victory in Somalia - which across Yemen has a coastline with the Gulf of Aden and as a result focused on controlling the region through the seas. There has been a heavy presence of foreign naval warships in the Gulf of Aden and along the Somalia coastline. There are ships from the US Navy Fifth Fleet in the region, which of late have become the centre of numerous hijackings of international ships. Interestingly mostly European ships have been hijacked, no US ships have been hijacked, which are present in large numbers, in fact, under US policing such attacks have been conducted.

The United States Central Command set up the Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA), a specified patrol zone in the Gulf of Aden in August 2008. Its borders although unmarked are a narrow, rectangular corridor between Somalia and Yemen, within the Northern sector of the gulf. From this is would seem the US is working to construct a permanent base in the Gulf of Aden to protect its interests in Africa and is using the inability of the Yemen regime to deal with its domestic issues to justify its presence in such an important waterway. A senior French military official stated in the Asharq Alawsat on the 28th October 2008 "by deploying its forces in Djibouti, America aims to ensure its permanent presence in the horn of Africa in the hotbeds of conflict in Yemen, Somalia and even Sudan."

In conclusion is appears the launching of US attacks in Yemen fit within US aims to control the Gulf of Aden after failing to defeat the Somali regime and due to America's general strategic interests in Africa. Like the Sudanese government's inability to deal with what was in origin tribal differences over land the US intervened and used the conflict to achieve its aim of controlling Sudan's oil wealth. It seems the US is using the Yemeni's regime's inability to deal with its domestic problems to meddle in its affairs and establish a permanent presence in the strategic waterways of the Aden.
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 31, 2009 04:27 PM »

We just don't know how not to stay out of other countries and take care of our own. Blah. I read this and I thought of the George Carlin skit about America.. I'd like to share... after some censoring.. of course.

History Lesson - I'd like to talk a little about that 'war' we had in the
Persian Gulf. Remember that? The big war in the Persian Gulf? Lemme tell you
what was goin' on.

Naturally, you can forget all that entertaining fiction about having to
defend the model democracy those lucky Kuwaitis get to live under. And for
the moment you can also put aside the very real, periodic need Americans
have for testing their new weapons on human flesh. And also, just for the
fun of it, let's ignore George Bush Sr.'s obligation to protect the oil
interests of his family and friends. There was another, much more important,
consideration at work. Here's what really happened.

Dropping a Load for Uncle Sam.

The simple fact is that America was long overdue to drop high explosives on
helpless civilians; people who have no argument with us whatsoever. After
all, it had been awhile, and the hunger gnaws. Remember that's our
specialty: picking on countries that have marginally effective air forces.

Yugoslavia is another, more recent example.

Surfing Unnecessary

But all that aside, let me tell you what I liked about that Gulf War: it was
the first war that appeared on every television channel, including cable.

And even though the TV show consisted largely of Pentagon war criminals
displaying maps and charts, it got very good ratings. And that makes sense,
because we like war. We're a warlike people. We can't stand not to be
fucking with someone. We couldn't wait for the Cold War to end so we could
climb into the big Arab sandbox and play with our nice new toys. We enjoy

And one reason we enjoy it is that we're good at it. You know why we're good
at it? Because we get alot of practice. This country is only 200 years old,
and already we've had ten major wars. We average a major war every twenty
years, So we're good at it!

And it's just as well we are, because we're not very good at anything else.
Can't build a decent car anymore. Can't make a TV set, a cell phone, or a
VCR. Got no steel industry left. No textiles. Can't educate our young
people. Can't get health care to our old people. But we can bomb the shit
outta your country, all right. We can bomb the crap outta your country!

If You're Brown, You're Goin Down

Especially if your country is full of brown people. Oh, we like that, don't
we? That's our hobby now. But it's also our new job in the world: bombing
brown people. Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Libya. You got some brown people in
your country? Tell 'em to watch out, or we'll+ bomb them!

Well, who were the last white people you can remember that we bombed? In
fact, can you remember any white people we ever bombed? The Germans! That's
it! Those are the only ones. And that was only because they were tryin' to
cut in on our action. They wanted to dominate the world.

Hey! That's our job. That's our job!

But the Germans are ancient history. These days, we only bomb brown people.
And not because they're cutting in our action; we do it because they're
brown. Even those Serbs we bombed in Yugoslavia aren't really white, are
they? Naaah! They're sort of down near the swarthy end of the white
spectrum. Just brown enough to bomb. I'm still waiting for the day we bomb
the English. People who really deserve it.

A Disobediant American

Now you folks might've noticed, I don't feel about that Gulf War the way we
were instructed to feel about it by the United States government. My mind
doesn't work that way. You see, I've got this real moron thing I do, it's
called 'Thinking'. And I guess I'm not a very good American, because I like
to form my own opinions; I don't just roll over when I'm told. Most
Americans roll over on command. Not me, There are certain rules I observe.

Believe You Me

My first rule: Never believe what anyone in authority says. None of them.
Government, Police, clergy, the corporate criminals. None of them. And
neither do I believe anything I'm told by the media, who, in the case of the
Gulf War, functioned as little more than unpaid employees of the Defense
Department, and who, most of the time, operate as unofficial public
relations agency for the government and industry.

I don't believe in any of them. And I have to tell you, folks, I don't
really believe very much in my country either. I don't get all choked up
about yellow ribbons and American flags. I see them as symbols, and I leave
them to the symbol-minded.

I believe in Islam like the sun rising, not because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.
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