March 6, 2016

Three Articles On Yemen

The biggest beneficiaries of Saudi Arabia's illegal invasion of Yemen has been terrorist groups like ISIS.

An excerpt from, "What Happened to Yemen?" By Fernando Carvajal, Fair Observer, March 4, 2016:
Today, the situation in Yemen is far beyond a “crossroads.” It is beyond “the brink.” The conflict faces a dangerous impasse as low intensity clashes expand, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and widening the security vacuum across the country. It is no longer a conflict between traditional elite actors, as southern and northern Salafists have joined the fight against Houthis and Saleh’s loyalists. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula no longer holds a monopoly on Yemen as Islamic State-affiliates have established a presence in various provinces. This makes it even more difficult to coordinate peace talks.

Furthermore, President Hadi has been unable to sustain support from various resistance groups fighting Houthis, as tension rises over financial and material resources provided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Saudis hope that General Ali Muhsin can serve as a uniting figure among northern tribes in order to overcome current obstacles along the military front.

After one year of airstrikes on the capital Sanaa, Amran, Hajja and Sadah provinces, observers see a deepening quagmire for Saudi Arabia, at times using the Vietnam analogy. It is clear that no actor is in a position to make concessions. There is no confidence among warring parties due to weak, fragmented alliances, and UN efforts are hindered by a lack of resources.
An excerpt from, "Rising Extremism in Yemen" By Nasser Arrabyee, Carnegie Endowment, February 19, 2016:
No other actors have benefited more from Saudi intervention in Yemen than extremist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS). Part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to avoid putting their own troops on the front lines is to air-drop weapons and money to local militants fighting the Houthis—which comprise a range of actors including tribal forces, Islah Party members, pro-Hadi popular resistance committees, and some Southern separatist wings. According to local witnesses in Taiz, Abyan, and Aden, Saudi Arabia allegedly airdropped weapons and money to militants who at times fight alongside al-Qaeda, including Abyan fighters under the leadership of Abdul Latif al-Sayed, a former al-Qaeda leader fighting with the popular resistance committees loyal to Saudi-backed President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi.

This support has benefited al-Qaeda, which continues to fight Houthis in the central provinces of Aden, Abyan, Shabwah, Mareb, and Taiz. Saudi Arabia has also indirectly supported al Qaeda’s efforts by allowing them to solidify territorial control in other areas. In Mukalla, al-Qaeda looted military bases and banks in April 2015 and declared the city an Emirate. There, the group has been able to govern alongside a local tribal council under the leadership of Khaled Batarfi and even launched a new local paper, Al-Masra. Mukalla is the fifth largest city in Yemen, capital of the oil rich Hadramout province, and has a strategic oil harbor that is now run by al-Qaeda, with all its revenues going to its militants. 

For now, the Islamic State’s influence remains mostly confined to Sanaa, Bayda, and Aden, though they are gaining support in other Houthi-controlled areas in the northwest. But reversing these advances will be particularly difficult, as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda gain greater support among Salafi groups angered by their defeats at the hands of the Houthis—making the Saudi gambit particularly dangerous in the long term.
An excerpt from, "Yemen’s destruction is one cost of the US-Saudi alliance" By Stephen Seche, Boston Globe, March 6, 2016:
Of course, the United States is something more than a casual observer of the conflict in Yemen. The Obama administration has been providing material support for the Saudi airstrikes since they began, including intelligence, logistics, and munitions.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations on Jan. 29, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, sounded a note of caution regarding the risks posed to the United States by continued support for Riyadh’s war, stating: “There is growing evidence that our support for Saudi-led military coalitions in places like Yemen are prolonging human misery and aiding extremism. . . . Our government says its top priority in Yemen is defeating AQAP, arguably Al Qaeda’s deadliest franchise. But this ongoing chaos has created a security vacuum in which AQAP can thrive and expand.”
A diplomat from the region observed recently that the real Arab Spring began “when we discovered that President Obama was either unwilling or uninterested in acting in the Middle East,” because it signaled to our Arab partners that they no longer needed to check with Washington before taking measures they deemed appropriate to protect their own security.

Nearly a year ago, Saudi Arabia did just that, and the unintended consequences of its war in Yemen have made not just the region, but the world, less safe. It is not the responsibility of the United States alone to resolve this crisis, but American leadership is needed to bring it to an end. We shouldn’t mistake the absence of headlines for an absence of urgency.