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20 January 2015


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Babak Makkinejad

Adam L. Silverman

"Arab Gulf"?

Is that the same as "Arabian Gulf"?

the true name of which has been, for the last 2500 years, the Persian Gulf?

No wonder we are in trouble, even historical geographical places are being called by false names.

Adam L Silverman


That's actually a mistype - I had meant to write "Arab Gulf States" as in the Arab states around the gulf and missed the omission on the read through prior to hitting publish. As for what it's supposed to be called, I always learned it as the Pearsian Gulf, but have seen Arab Gulf used for it.

As for your names must actually reflect what they're referring to kick, have you been reading Ayn Rand again?


Just call it by an American name: Over yonder. Simple and covers a large area.



All this business about the Zeidi Shia and their Houthi militia being a menace to anything beside AQAP and Sunnis generally is a lot of hokum. Yemen is naturally divided between the land of the Zeidis in the north and the rest of the place. The Zeidi (Fiver) Shia have little relationship to the Twelvers who inhabit southern Iraq and Iran. this little civil war in Yemen is typical internal Yemeni business. Let us get out of the way and in fact help the Zeidi Houthis fight AQAP. To hell with the Yemeni government. And furthermore Yemen, in western terms Yemen has been and is a failed state. It always is that. pl

Babak Makkinejad

There is and has never been an Arab gulf - only a Persian Gulf.

What is the purpose, your and others, in fabricating this name "The Gulf"?

Why is it so important as to discard historical names with their inherent ability to facilitate historical understanding, in favor of fabricated names that did not exist before 1950s?

Babak Makkinejad

The truthful way of stating it:

"The Arab stats of the Persian Gulf"...or "the Arab littoral states of the Persian Gulf"...

Just like "Gulf of Finland".

Would one ever dignify the fabrication "Gulf of Estonia" in lieu of "Gulf of Finland".

I rather think not, Estonia does not have petro-dollars...

Adam L Silverman

Dude, you need to get a grip. I explained how I made the error, went back and did an honest correction indicating both and update and showing where the correction is in the post. If I were you I'd declare victory and call it a day. Or you can keep trying to pick a fight where there isn't a fight to pick.

As for why people incorrectly call it the Arab Gulf - I first starting seeing this in the time period between the Iran-Iraq War and Desert Shield/Desert Storm. My guess is it was being pushed in the media by the usual suspects.

Charles I

Well then, once we figure Libya and Benghazi out we can get to work on who lost Yemen


I tend to think that the fact that Houthi is backed by Iran, they are going to make it difficult for al Qaeda to operate there. Time will tell.


Adam L. Silverman
I don't think the Houthis intend to overthrow the Yemeni government. See what Press TV writes, quote:

In a televised address on Tuesday, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said the administration of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi should be held accountable for the escalation of violence in the Arab country.

"The president and several Yemeni forces are protecting corruption in the country instead of fighting it," Houthi added.

The Ansarullah leader called on Hadi to “speed up” the implementation of the peace agreement or face the dire consequences of his decisions, warning that “all options are open” and the rising tension will have “no ceiling."



I'ld read that statement, that the Houthis want President Hadi to stay in his job and do his job. As I read in other reports the main criticism from Houthis against Hadi is that he is doing nothing or not doing enough to fight Al Qaeda, and some people in Hadi's administration are even accused by Houthis to even provide weapons to Al Qaeda.

If the Houthis and their allies in Yemen, which seem to be lot's of people and soldiers affiliated with Ex-President Ali Saleh, would wanted to overthrow President Hadi they would have done so already long ago. What the Houthis more likely want is an inclusive government that is commited to fight Al Qaeda and dismantle the organized crime networks allied with Al Qaeda. What the Houthis do not want is a government that is serving special interests and protecting and supporting Al Qaeda and the organized crime networks which are partly allied with Al Qaeda.

And that is also in line with the public message of the Houthis again and again: their fight is against corruption, not to seize power themselves.

Abu Sinan

I am with you 100% Colonel Lang! The Houthis have been the only effective fighting tool against AQAP. in 2011 they besieged and then occupied the Dar al Hadith school in Dammaj. This school is a hardline Salafi school that had started trying to smuggle in small and heavy weapons. The school itself is a well known destination for wanna be Jihadis. I dont believe the western media mentioned that this is the school that John Walker Lindt, the American Taliban, attended before going to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It is also important to note that everyone supporting the Houthis are not Zaidi. The web of tribal and family connections in Yemen is huge and vastly complex. I view the Houthis as a continuation of the Free Yemeni Movement and those who came up with the Sacred National Charter before the abortive coup of 1948. The whole idea of a sectarian split dividing politics in Yemen is a new one. Previous movements saw Sunni and Shi'a unite in furtherance of political ideology, not sectarian hatred.
Not supporting the Houthis because they are Shi'a would be a huge mistake. AQAP and Salafi propaganda would have us all believe every Shi'a is in league with Iran.

Babak Makkinejad

It started in 1950s...


Adam, should I read Ayn Rand? She must have been influential in shaping American minds, but I wasn't ever attracted to her. Strictly not because of Atlas Shrugged-blog-hyene, you may know who. But because of an ideological struggle on Wikipedia at one point.


Babak, I wondered at what your comment was at Pat's little note recognizing Hanukkah. I was close to going undercover and ask friends to find out, but then I decided to not bother them.

The point where I deviated from someone I defended as not necessarily an antisemite, was when I noticed his pattern of attacking the Jewish religion as the ultimate source of all evil.

There is no doubt a culturally long story behind that thought. In a nutshell: The people of laws.


Babak, how is your instance on finding this suspicious related to the fact that no-one at least in the West uses Persia anymore? ...

And how is your sensibility related to, admittedly based on my own really limited intellectual basis, what feels like your own theory or good versus evil?

Adam L Silverman


My remark was just me being a smart@$$. One of the tenets of Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, such as it is, is that things must be what they are - there can be no transitives. So one of the most famous Objectivist sayings is "a must equal a".

As for reading Rand... I personally found her to be a poor writer of prose, basically she's hard to read. Not hard to read like Neitzche, where you have to think a lot about where he's coming from, just hard to read structurally. There are a number of good recent books about her and her philosophy, so you might want to start there. They are likely to be more applicable for trying to understand how she's become a major ideological source for certain members of US politics and business. What always strikes me is that a number of her biggest admirers are all devoutly religious. Yet Rand hated religion and brutally savaged Christianity in her writings. Also often ignored was her relying on friends and relatives for support, and ultimately on social security, Medicare, and Medicaid while decrying these things as theft.Consistency, hobgoblins, little minds, etc...

Here's some links to reviews of some of these books and other things dealing with Rand:

Abu Sinan

I agree Bandolero. I dont think the intention is a coup, they could have done so if they wanted to. The fight against corruption and a more fair system dates back to 1948 and 1962.

The problem is that family alliances, the tribal system and now sectarian strife may make such an outcome impossible.


I also think that supporting Houthi Shia is the right thing to do in Yemen.

And yet, as a result of them being anti AQAP, the Saudis will also see them as anti-Wahhabi, which they will see as anti-Saudi.

The usual suspects will make the rounds in DC, howling that the US in supporting the Houthi Shia is abandoning an ally, and they will assert that Iran is behind all this, because the Houthis are Shia, and so is Iran.

Hogwash, but at the volume they use it is something that must be overcome lest it drowns out voices of reason with its constant droning.

Abu Sinan

Agreed. Saudi has already been stoking sectarian hate in Yemen. Historically the Zaidis and Sunnis got along. The major differences have not been sectarian. They have been regional, often inter sect. The attempted coup in 1948 was between two different mainly Shi'a groups.


the Huthis emerged in early 2000s after they had been marginalised by the government in Sanaa, Salafi converts within their own tribal community, and also the Islah Party (kind of Muslim Brotherhood).
Their rejection of Sunnism made some turn to 12er Shiism but they remain very small in number. But there are now converts to 12er Shiism in the South, where such a think had never been heard of before. Much of this is down to positioning for support (money) from Iran.
Once former president was dumped by the international community and the Saudis, he looked for help from the Huthis to return to power. He is a Johnny Walker Black Label (a bottle a day guy) drinking Zaydi. He cares little for any religious ideology - he wants power and will take any help offered.
Currently the only state offering help is Iran. This is a pragmatic decision by all involved and its not really motivated by religious sect.
However the Saudis don't see it that way, neither do the majority of the disenfranchised population of Yemen who are Sunnis. While Saleh's party is dominated by Zaydis it is still secular; the Huthis are avowedly religious and are revolutionary Zaydi. The problem for the Saudis is the Iranian involvement. The key question is What are they going to do about it now a pro-Iranian militia rules most of Yemen?
Next step is for the Saudis to start arming and financing the tribes (tick) and then doing the same with the Salafis/AQ they think they can control. Sectarian war is coming to the Gulf of Aden.



These converts to salafism and 12er Shiism that you write of, they are converts from among the Sunni population? It is unheard of for me to hear that tribal Zeidi Shia would convert to 12er Shiism. The Saudis have always paid off the Zeidi tribes to the north of Sanaa. The Saudi governor of Najran used to have that task while the Sunni Saudi military attache in Sanaa paid off the Sunnis and Zeidis south of Sanaa. Salih is a Zeidi from just south of Sanaa. So what is different in this situation? as for Salih, he, like most heavy users of qat, drinks a lot to come down after the afternoon's qat session. This has nothing to do with sect. what is the basis for believing that the houthis are controlled by Iran? pl


Forgot to say thanks, highly interesting. As always good link collection.

Abu Sinan

My wife is Zaidi Shi'a from Yemen. Not only do Zaidis not convert to 12er Shi'a, it is unusual for them to marry one as well. The Saudis have paid off the Zaidi, just to cover their bases the Saudis paid off both families that have often vied for the leadership of the Zaidi community and Yemen as a whole. This was born out in the strife of 1948 and 1962.

We actually talked about this last night. Trying to link anyone to Iran is just a general way to try and discredit them. You can link them to Iran, say they have a Jewish background, or are a spy for the CIA or Mossad. So claims that someone or a group are working for the Iranians cannot be taken seriously without hard evidence. It is a natural insult and link that would be made with the current sectarian climate.

The phrase "their rejection of Sunnism made some turn to 12er Shiism" doesnt really make any sense to me. Zaidiism, as a sect has been around for 1,000 plus years and is the oldest Shi'a sect. So I am not sure if this comment was meant to be about current issues or historical, but it doesnt hold water either way.

The idea that Zaidis would have an overt religious basis for their revolution is not new. The Sacred National Charter that came from Aden in 1947-1948 was based in part on Zaidism and a return to traditional Zaidi values. On the basis of this document the Al Waziri coup took place and the current Imam at the time, Imam Yahya Hamid ad Deen was assassinated.

The coup was not just supported by one faction of Zaidis, Sunnis supported the al Waziri coup attempt as well. The Free Yemeni movement and those who were behind the 1948 coup worked with the staunchly Muslim Brotherhood and Hasan al Bana himself. Both groups here were Zaidi. The coup failed because Yahya had succeeded in distancing the elites from the al Wazir group from the common tribal element in part by removing many of them from positions of power in the 1930s. So although the al Waziris had the support of the scholars and societal elite, they still failed.

Yemen does not have a history of sectarian strife. It was not unusual for Zaidis to marry Sunnis. The biggest historical separation in Yemen was tribal and then cast. It was more common for Yemenis to marry between sects than unlike communities, and some Sada (those descended from the Prophet) will only marry other Sada.

The sectarian breakdown is an inevitable consequence because of the extreme sectarianism being exported from Saudi. Where the Zaidis have the upper hand is that they are more united, as a group, than the Sunnis are.

The Zaidis, historically and currently, have the best ability to stabilize Yemen and to continue their fight against Sunni extremists and AQAP and as such we should support them.


"as for Salih, he, like most heavy users of qat, drinks a lot to come down after the afternoon's qat session. "

Always wanted to ask, given your familiarity with the place, is use of quat really that prevalent in Yemen - from top to bottom of the societal ladder?

Then, I was struck by one of Tom Friedman's columns a whole back, where he told how the Yemenis actually ran their country into the ground:

"This environmental disaster was born in the 1970s when the oil/construction boom exploded in the Persian Gulf, and some two million to three million unskilled Yemeni men left their villages to build Saudi Arabia. “As a result,” said Eryani, “the countryside was depopulated of manpower.” Women resorted to cutting trees for fuel and the terraces eroded because of lack of maintenance. That led to widespread erosion of hillsides and the massive silting of the wadis — seasonal riverbeds — whose rich soil used to support three crops a year, including Yemen’s famed coffee. The silting up of the wadis crushed the coffee business and led Yemenis to grow other cash crops that needed less fertile soil. The best was qat, the narcotic leaf to which this country is addicted. But qat requires a lot of water, and that led to overdrafting of groundwater."


Since the man is such a mixed bag - accurate?

Abu Sinan

Al Jazira Arabic is reporting that Hadi and his government has resigned. Family in Yemen has verified.

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