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26 March 2015

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mbrenner

Washington, the GCC, the cut-and-paste media, and even the UN (I believe) refer to Hadi as the legitimate President of Yemen leading a legitimate government. Yet, he never was democratically elected. he was selected for a one year period that concluded some time ago. Why should we not view him as someone who seized power just as the Houtis are condemned for doing? (By the way, same for Abbas in Palestine).

As to the specious claim that 'Yemen' is the victim of indirect Iranian aggression, is anyone in a position to point us to a credible source validating the assertion that the Houtis are an Iranian proxy or even that "Iranians have been stirring this cauldron very successfully for a number of years?" In addition, what is the definition of "stirring?" Does it cover what the US has been doing in Venezuela and Bolivia - leaving aside Ukraine and every place in the Greater Middle East?

b

My understanding of the current map of who rules where the Yemeni parts of the Rub al-Khali desert are patrolled by AlQaeda and some other areas the Saudis would have march through are likewise under AQ rule.

I do not doubt that the Saudis have excellent relations with some of these folks but I doubt that they are welcome there.

Also - even the southerner Yemenis who are not aligned with alQaeda or the Houthis will not like any foreign interference -no matter how "sunni" it is- and will fight against it. That has been a historic pattern as far as I can tell.

confusedponderer

When the Saudis in their anti-Shia mindlessness keep stirring the pot, they'll end up building an Islamic State in the land formerly known as Yemen so that they'll finally face an islamist threat from madcap jihadis from north AND south.

It is then IMO just a matter of time until we see more anti-Shia terrorist acts like those mosque bombings. Since the Saudis and Shia are involved the matter has a greater chance to become sectarian, because the Saudis ARE sectarian.

William R. Cumming

WOW! Thanks P.L. for this timely expert assessment!

turcopolier

CP

The Zeidi Shia are not given to jihadism. They may invade Saudi Arabia in retribution once they get their act together but it will one of many wars of Qahtan against the desert beetle eaters. the beetle eaters now drive Mercedes. pl

turcopolier

b

The Saudis have brigade sized forces in bases in the SW Rub al-Khali. It may be that the Saudis will be dealt with harshly by AQ and the Zeidi Shia. I seem to have forecast this in my joint post with Martin J. pl

b

@Pat " It may be that the Saudis will be dealt with harshly by AQ and the Zeidi Shia."

Certainly by the Zeidi Shia. I am dubious about AQ because the various AQ entities still seem to get money from Saudi donors. Maybe AQ will make a (paid for) truce with the Saudis and let them pass through?

My question though is about the not-AQ Sunni tribals in Yemen. Will they welcome Saudi troops? Or will they rather fight those foreign intruders?

Some fierce anti-Houthis in Yemen I follow were pretty enraged today about the Saudi bomb attacks. It seem that they would take up arms against Saudi troops even when those troops are there to fight their Houthi "enemies".

The Beaver

Mr Brenner,

According to Matt Lee (ICP at the UN in NYC), some at the UN are asking:
"if Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi can legally call for and get outside countries' intervention, how it is illegal for Assad in Syria to request and get help from Iran? What if Ben Ali or Mubarak had requested other countries' airstrikes? "

Deux poids deux mesures

The Beaver

We are told that there are 10 countries involved in the coalition bombing Yemen.
Amongst the GCC, only 5 out of 6 have accepted ( either Oman or Qatar has said thanks but no thanks)
6th : Egypt, air bombing and saying that they will provide ground troops to KSA (as far as some MSM are concerned)
7th: Sudan said to have offered three fighter planes to the Saudi-led campaign
8th: Jordan
9th: Morocco ( all those paying monarch using Marrakech as their second residence)
10th: Unknown

Does anyone have a breakdown? Thank you

Charles I

Staggering. Our policy makers have confused the borders of a dozen alleged nation states they created with national interest.

confusedponderer

Not talking about the Shia, I mean the Sunni, and not just Yemenis.

And desert beatle eaters? Not incidentally the same guys who the Iraqis called bearded women?

kao_hsien_chih

Or, indeed, Yanukovych from Russia.

MartinJ

There is much celebration in the South at the Saudi intervention. They have wanted this for many years. Right back to 1994 when the Saudis were set to recognise an independent South only for Bill Clinton to warn them not to. Back then it was a different world of mopping up Cold War areas of influence and Saleh was very much on board.

Now, with the country reduced to pitiful levels of poverty, the Hadramawt oil boom not having benefited the South, and the collapse of rule of law there, they are desperate for Gulf help. Hadramawt in fact would much rather be annexed by Saudi than have much to do with Aden.

As for AQ, yes they are there in Shabwa and Marib regions but they are allowed free reign by Saleh, who has long used them as tools to draw in US CT funding as well as a tool to kill local Southern leaders. Not all AQ are thus controlled but the significantly active members such as Ansar al-Sharia's Jalal Beleidi for example.

The Iranian influence (not control) is becoming ever more apparent but money, training (from military to civil society activist media training) is being done in Tehran. There are enough clues in open source media going back to 2011 at least if one takes the time to look. Also former Southern (thus Sunni) president Ali Salim al-Beidh has his home and office deep in Beirut's Dahiyah suburb and operates under the protection of Hezbullah. Politics, sect, and loyalty are complex in Yemen and everyone is available for a price.

liza

@Beaver:

Al Jazeera has reported Qatar is in the coalition, and that Pakistan is considering a request. Turkey has endorsed the military operation. Oman is hosting the deposed president of Yemen.

FB Ali

The 'odd man out' from the GCC is Oman.

The 10th country is Pakistan. The official Saudi news agency says Pakistan was among the 5 non-GCC countries that have expressed a desire to "participate in the operation”. Meanwhile Pakistan said it had been "requested" by the Saudis to join up. In response the Pakistani PM issued a strong statement saying: "...any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan". (Not quite relevant to the situation! IMO, deliberately so). He is also sending a high-level civil-military delegation to Riyadh on Friday "to assess the situation".

Like the other countries named, Pakistan finds itself in an awkward situation. It has been the recipient of much largesse from the Saudis - most recently a 'gift' of $1.5 billion a couple of years ago. By joining in now it will ensure many more such future gifts. On the other hand, it has its hands full fighting the Jihadis in its own territory, and keeping its guard up against India.

I think they will send a token force, probably a few aircraft to join in the bombing campaign. The Saudis want ground troops (they have enough high-tech planes piloted by US and other foreign 'contract' pilots). Pakistan may be forced to send a token ground force (a battalion, say), which will do guard duties on Saudi territory; they will not fight in Yemen.

turcopolier

Martin J

"As for AQ, yes they are there in Shabwa and Marib regions but they are allowed free reign by Saleh, who has long used them as tools to draw in US CT funding as well as a tool to kill local Southern leaders." IMO these AQ types out in the eastern desert marches of Yemen are unpredictable as to how they will react to the presence of large, Saudi led ground forces in their midst. SA has been taking hostile action against such people in SA for several years. Why would AQ not think they will do the same hing in SW Arabia. pl

FB Ali

I share your scepticism about AQ. These Jihadi types are never "controlled" by anyone; manipulated, perhaps, but not controlled. And these folks have been under US attack for quite a while; I doubt if they see much difference between the US and the Saudis (for them the latter are just puppets of the former).

MartinJ may know the area well, but he seems to suffer from the same problem that bedevils many US observers in foreign lands: they speak to a few well-placed, well-off people, and believe the views fed to them are those of the whole populace. These countries are far too complex for any such simple characterizations. For example, I can accept that some 'leaders' in Hadramaut would "much rather be annexed" by SA, but I doubt very much that the bulk of ordinary people would.

mbrenner

Do you mind sharing some of these "clues" with us? If apparent, Please share with us where and when? If in open sources, which ones? I have the time to take.

  The Beaver

@ liza

President Hadi is in Riyadh as far as the latest news is concerned.
Since he escaped from Aden by boat, I believe that travelling to KSA would have been easier .

  The Beaver

Brig. Ali,

Thank you.

The campaign is called Operation Decisive Storm

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2015/03/26/Allies-back-Saudi-led-Decisive-Storm-op-in-Yemen-with-fighter-jets-.html

The Arab League is meeting in Egypt’s Sham el-Sheikh on Saturday and Hadi is attending.

MartinJ

If the Saudi presence becomes a long term occupation then yes, they will be attacked by AQ. In the short term they would lose out. Why? They also depend to a large extend on the largesse of certain tribes that grant them haven. If the Saudis are there to defeat the common Shia "enemy" then AQ risks losing credibility with its hosts and thus their welcome.

Then there is the second problem: Tribes in Hadramawt complain to me that whenever they try to confront AQ they suddenly find themselves "confronting a group with the capacity of a state" in terms of weapons, vehicles and access. They mean that the army, the Northern/Saleh army is protecting them and giving them this access and these weapons. It is not in the interests of Saleh to allow local tribes to become in any way autonomous in terms of security - they would then start demanding things like jobs and infrastructure and an end to Northern occupation. In this regard AQ is a vital buffer tool for this job. It not only takes angry youth and gives them an opportunity to vent their anger, its also anger against their own communities rather than the North.

The caste system of Hadramawt with the Sayyids at the top, the less Islamic and secular tribes in the middle, and the masakeen at the bottom all play into this dynamic. Getting rid of Saleh will not cure the area of AQ but it will allow local people to deal with their own issues more effectively. Adding Saudi forces into this mix in the short term will probably not change much, IMO, but in the longer term no one likes occupation much.

MartinJ

I agree with your general assessment of what troubles US observers. In my defence I can say I speak to as many people as I can. As a rule I avoid anyone in a suit though - they tend to have an agenda and are not too dissimilar to the rest of the Yemeni or Gulf elite. No, I prefer dealing with simple people. they are far more interesting, far more genuine. A politician or businessman I can meet in Dubai or London or NY, after all, but its not my cup of tea.

Hadramis wish themselves rid of the Adenis because they remember the Socialist years. They also have deep links with the elites in Saudi because many of them (e.g. Bin Ladens, Bughshans, al-Amoodi etc) are all Hadrami families and keep close ties with their communities. Lastly they don't much like Saleh or the Northerners. They have always traded with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states. I may be generalising somewhat but I think if we polled them the majority would opt for becoming a province of KSA over being part of an independent South.

MartinJ

I need to search for the articles. There is one where a group of Hirak activists are taken abroad for media training. they don't know where they are going and literally land in Tehran. It all sounds rather ridiculous but I have subsequently got to know some of those people. Some that were shocked and it just ended as a story for them and others who ended up as media activists for Iran.

But I stress that its not ideological. Yemenis are just not like that. They're not Syrians or Iraqis, or Lebanese. They are deeply ingrained with pragmatism and they come from the poorest country in the Arab world. They will gladly take money whenever it is offered but as the Saudis will tell you, that never equals loyalty. They will take the fact they got money from Iran to the Saudis, and expect the Saudis give them more money. Then if the Qataris come in they will switch to the new "milk cow" and milk that dry before finding another one.

turcopolier

MartinJ

"I stress that its not ideological. Yemenis are just not like that." OK I will say it again. Religion can have an ideological importance. It can also be the essence of segmentary lineage identity. that is how it functions among native Yemenis. pl

mbrenner

I am sorry to say this but you obviously are offering us unsubstantiated conclusions and appraisals which should be discounted accordingly. One should hope that SST would be one forum for discussion that is free of that.

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