Thursday, January 22, 2015

What's with Yemen?

There are a lot of Americans who never even heard of Yemen, and wonder why it should be getting all that news coverage.  Unfortunately, the news media seem to have little more information about Yemen than the aforementioned Americans.  This article seeks to unravel some of what has been going on there better than PBS, the BBC, or even Fox.

Let us begin.  In recent weeks, a Zaidi/Shiite group called the Houthi has pushed the "elected" Yemeni government out of power but, oddly enough, has not taken over the reins of power itself.  So-called "elected" President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has resigned, probably a wise choice on his part because his Presidential Residence was overrun by Houthi fighters.  Hadi is often called a "staunch ally of the United States" because he makes no objection when the USofA sends drones against AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and anybody else who happens to be in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.

Hadi ran unopposed in the election he "won," with financial backing by the US and the Saudis.  Yemen is a very poor country, which survives mostly on foreign aid, mostly from the USofA and Saudi Arabia.  Nobody was surprised when Hadi, backed by his country's most significant donors, found nobody running against him.

During the seventies and eighties, the southern regions of Yemen were independent, and under Communist leadership.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, so did South Yemen, and the country was more or less united again.  It is very unlikely that there are any Communists left, but you never know.

At the moment, Yemen has something of the look of a Saudi-Iranian proxy war, with the Saudis backing what remains of the most recent government, and the Iranians supporting the  Houthi group. which bears some slight resemblance to Hezbollah in that it opposes corruption.  The Saudis, of course, support corruption, and certain Saudi oligarchs probably are supporting AQAP as well.  The USofA, needless to say, dares not offend Saudi Arabia, no matter how many journalists are jailed and whipped, "adulterers" stoned to death, or "infidels" beheaded there.

Assuming the USofA does not wish to ally itself with AQAP, the only viable alternative is the Houthi resistance.  The trick is finding a way to do it without pissing off the House of Saud, Israel, and Iranian-hating members of Congress.  The Houthi are at war with AQAP, but probably won't be nearly so willing as Hadi to wave at departing American drones while yelling "bombs away.  On the other hand, it looks like Iran has far less control over the Houthi than it does over, say, Hezbollah.

Okay, did that help?  I didn't think so.

No comments: