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07 June 2018


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The beaver


"The US government response to all this is to denounce the Houthis and Salih as interfering with stability and the integrity of the Yemeni state"

Reporting on what being said in Brisbane, Matthew Lee the journos reporting on the travails of the UNSC has this to say:
[Obama did not say countries should not interfere, militarily, in other countries. If a country is not a democracy, apparently, one can intervene, as long as it is not to stoke separatism. Are those the new rules?

The US "train and equip mission" on Syria came to mind. Those are proxies, but are they allowed under Obama's new rules? On Syria Obama said that eventually there will have to be a political solution including Syria's neighbors like Turkey and Iran, and "Assad's patron," Russia.]



Col. Lang, could the Yemeni model be replicated on the other Arab states? If so, it could lead on the stabilization of the Mid east.


slighly related: Yemen expert Gregory D. Johnsen writes about a kidnappung attempt there

My Last Day In Yemen

To kick out Saleh was on of the worst decisions the U.S. took. He was needed to keep up the balance. Then Hadi was "elected" as the only candidate and only a "yes" but no "no" field on the ballot. Some U.S. driven UN GCC committee was set up to find a new constitution. It ended in squabbles.

The Houti now have an alliance with Hadi to clean up the chaotic mess that was created in Sanaa and elsewhere when Saleh was kicked out. They are so far pretty successful.

But the somehow the Saudis and the U.S. do not like this. o the UNSC put sanctions on Houtis and Sanleh which no one in Yemen, certainly not president Hadi, can or will ever implement.

Meanwhile U.S. drones fire again at some "Al-Qaeda" Sunni tribals and add to the outrage and revenge cycles.

To what purpose does the U.S. do such nonsense?



The US supported Salih throughout the period of his reign that lasted from the time he took power in an assassination plot in the mid 70s until the idealists gained sway in the Obama Administration. His government was very useful in the Cold War. pl



You keep hoping that these folks throughout the region will be something other than what they are. They will not. there is no Yemeni model. There are only the facts of life in Yemen. pl


The beaver ,
" If a country is not a democracy, apparently, one can intervene, as long as it is not to stoke separatism. Are those the new rules?"

I'm sure Russians and the Chinese are listening real closely. And who defines what democracy is? state department or the white house?

BTW did you knew that the Economist has listed France as a flawed democracy.




A bit off topic. Who was the author of the book about Islam you have often recommended to the Committee?

Abu Sinan

Great analysis. My wife's mother is Zaidi from Sana'a and her father is Sunni from Taiz. The Zaidi have been an effective fighting force against AQAP. It is short sighted of us not to support this. I wonder if those making our policy realise the difference between Zaidis and the 12ers in places like Iran and Lebanon? In Yemen many of the Sunnis also accuse the Zaidi of being in bed with Iran, but many 12ers dont even think Zaidi are really Shi'a. They are too Shi'a for the Sunni and not Shi'a enough for the 12ers.

AQAP is strking back when and were it can. They recently killed a respected leader in the community, one known to my wife's family. Mohammed Abdel Malek al-Mutawakel. They view it as a great loss.

William R. Cumming

Thanks P.L.! Very informative! What is your take on the usage of KAT in Yemen?



Someone now working for an "international organization" in Yemen wrote to tell me that I do not understand the new Yemen. Interesting

When I first went to Yemen in 1979 to serve in the embassy I was briefed all over Washington by State Department, CIA, various academics and other cats and dogs. They all had the same thing to say. This was that tribalism, sectarianism and a generally medieval view of the world were a thing of the past in Yemen, that a new day was dawning in the mountains of SW Arabia and I should hang out with the progressive people when I arrived there. When I arrived I found that there were damned few progressive people in Yemen. Among the few was a former vice president of the World Bank. He was in his sixties and I had the opportunity while there to attend his wedding festivities as he married a twelve year old girl. In fact Yemen was nothing but tribes and medieval Islam. I have been back any number of times and it does not change. pl



Qat? A national addiction, people are generally stoned by four in the afternoon. then they drink whiskey to come down. A lot of Yemenis would buy Qat rather than shoes for their children if forced to make a choice. pl

The beaver


I guess, being an International Civil Servantin an I.O and living in a guest house of some friendly Embassies or in a subsidised house/apt in a gated compound , must give one that sense that they are there with the "lambda Yemeni". Wonder who does his/her shopping or if he or she meets the local farmer at the market or drives his/her own car (would like to see that) :-)

"New Yemen", yep when one lives in and with the country club mentality and has full escort or a security guard when they have to be with the mass





The beaver

@ Aka

Reason that France is a Republic ( even with the aristo in Neuilly or Paris 16) and there is still a class system in the UK, what with the House of Lords or Public schools ( which are really) and only a % can afford to own a house in London.
The Economist sees fault in any country on the continent.


dear Colonel and Beaver,
many of the people who works with IO (local NGOs, International NGOs) and even foreign embassies mingles with a certain pro-western (pseudo?) liberal crowd who themselves wouldn't know the pulse of their countryman. Even if this crowd knew, they may alter the reality to suit their own agenda.

For a example after going through wiki-leaks about my country I found out that the political sources seems to consist of the above mentioned crowd (who's opinions are treated like horsesh#t by the majority of the local population). What they tell is their version of the truth. And also they were some highly doubtful reports even from government officials who didn't seems trustworthy as much as the US embassy thought them to be.


Abu Sinan.

The likelihood is that former president Saleh ordered the murder of Dr al-Mutawakkel. Most of the AQ in Yemen are funded and directed by him or by his cousin General Ali Muhsin apart from a few people. With this killing he is trying to foment a sectarian war. His rule was always built upon creating chaos.

Most of the AQ activity we see in the media is actually Saleh's thugs killing rivals from the security and particularly intelligence service that are not loyal to him.


President Hadi announced today that "Ansar Allah are now our partners". The UN pressed by the U.S. just sanctioned Ansar Allah (Houti militia).

Hadi's term in office will officially run out in 45 days. There is no process or resources available for any "election" of a new one.

@Pat - the people that tell you Yemen changed likely never left Sanaa.

Haykal Bafana, a Yemeni lawyer and consultant in
Sanaa tweets as @BaFana3 and (seldom) blogs at http://blog.haykal.sg/

Some of his from two days ago:

Sanaa is a small bubble of different norms from most other parts of #Yemen : women sit in cafes with men, drive cars & lead public lives.

But drive half an hour out from Sanaa, and this pocket of seemingly modern life disappears.

Women are not evident in public life outside Sanaa, a glaringly obvious phenomenon in the vast majority of Yemeni villages, towns & cities.

Just like Sanaa, Aden city in the south is another pocket of differing norms from its surrounding hinterlands where customs are suspended.




And, IMO, it has not changed since then. I spent a lot of time wandering around the countryside both north and south of Sanaa. It was something like being in Indian Country during the Indian wars in the American West. pl



I would not for a moment dispute the thought of Salih double-dealing and lying his way out of almost any situation. when I lived there he routinely murdered any and all who opposed him including his own cabinet ministers if necessary. On the other hand I doubt that you will find anyone better with whom to replace him. It is that kind of place. Do you live in Sanaa or Aden? pl

The beaver


Wanna get a good laugh from some Journo who may be looking for a position at the UN in the Communication dept:
[quote]Samantha Power has landed such heavy rhetorical blows on her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, that he is regularly knocked off balance.[eoq]


Yeah right when Jeffrey Feltman is the real boss at the UN and whether it is Ban Ki Moon or Power, they don't" parrot' before getting the blessing from the boss himself.


Thank you!



Yemen is in this mess precisely because Saleh's model of governance (patronage to tribes and opponents based on oil revenues) started collapsing in 2004 with his first war against the Huthis. In 2007 the South started to demand separation. The rest of the country joined in by 2011. He simply couldn't afford to pay everyone off.

Yemen's population went from 12m in 1990 to perhaps 30m today. The oil has all but run out. Saleh failed six times to crush the Huthis. He's had better luck in the South. But his usefulness as a cold war ally has passed. He re-invented himself as a man to fight AQ post 2001 but every time AQ went silent US money dried up. This kind of short sighted policy led Saleh to encourage AQ attacks in order to make up the shortfall in revenue from oil.

Now we have a situation where the US is involved in a never ending drone war against AQ characters that Saleh encourages. Madness. The Saudis lack of engagement is second only to US lack of concern for anything other than access to drone AQ. Into this void has stepped Iran. Both North and South.

Saleh's perfidy and the utterly unsustainable kleptocracy he set up have done for him. Now the Huthis are in control and they seem deadly serious about taking on AQ, taking on corruption, and establishing security. In many ways they are better partners for the US war on AQ than Saleh's model. The small problem being that they're close to Iran and their neighbours don't like that one bit.



When I was there Salih was in his 4th or 5th year in power and Yemeni oil was just a rumor among exploration companies that were trying to find oil in the east in an ambient situation that was tribally insecure (Sunni not Zeidi). At the same time Salih faced massive tribal hostility from the Hashid confederation north of Sanaa and the truly massive threat of the NDF insurgency. He coped with that well. pl


All, this is from a friend in the area:http://www.rightsidenews.com/2014111635120/world/terrorism/isis-begins-invasion-of-saudi-arabia.html
I cannot asses its accuracy. Does anyone want/care to weigh in on this?



Agreed. He was very successful in bringing the Hashid together, defeating the insurgency and unifying North and South. But he's lost his touch. He's sprightly for a man in his 70s who starts on his whisky at 1pm and he's been there since 1978. And yet... he lost his bargain with the elites around him in Hashid, in his own family, as well as losing the periphery of his country. He's still powerful but there is a new sheriff in town. A different tribe with a different chief - but ultimately same Zaydi sect, same mentality, same way of doing business.

How will the US and Gulf cope with this change that isn't really a change? The key problem is Iranian sponsorship. The Saudis have to make peace with the Huthis and outbid them. But they're too divided internally and too consumed by Iraq and Syria to focus on the age old anarchic mess to their south.

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