What About Yemen?
In the aftermath of the apprehension of “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutalib and the revelation of his connection with Yemen, a spotlight has been shown on the poor country of 30 million people at the tip of the Arab Peninsula. Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned that the situation in Yemen has “global implications”:
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says internal unrest and a surge in Al Qaeda activity in Yemen pose a global threat that is being met by U.S. support for the Yemeni government’s efforts to fight extremists.
Clinton told reporters Monday the situation in Yemen has “global implications” and the government must take actions to restore stability. Her comments came as the U.S. Embassy in San’a remained closed for a second day in response to Al Qaeda threats and ahead of a London conference later this month on Yemen.
Threats from Al Qaeda have prompted the U.S. and the U.K. to shutter their embassies in Yemen — and Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser says the U.S. does not plan to open a new front there. Do you think U.S. troops should organize an offensive in Yemen in response to the terror group’s growing presence?
and opinion is running decidedly in favor of such an action.
In my view the idea of U. S. forces mounting an offensive in Yemen is patently absurd. For an informed opinion on the subject, let’s turn to Col. Pat Lang:
I was Defense and Army Attache in the US Embassy in Sana, North Yemen in 1981 and 1982. I have been back several times. most recently three or four years ago. The same man, Ali Abdullah Salih, is president of a united north and south Yemen. He was merely president in the north when I lived in Sana. There have been no “breaks” in his service.
The country is an example of tribalism run riot. Except for the coastal plains the terrain is a wilderness of dissected mountain ridges, each of which is topped by a very defensible village.
The tribal structure is very complex and divided into; confederations, tribes, clans, families, etc. In the north of the country live Zeidi (Fiver) Shia. Their type of Shiism is the closest to Sunni Islam. Their jurisprudence is actually based on Mu’tazilism. The rest of the country is largely inhabited by Sunni Shafa’i.
There is constant war in Yemen, war over women’s honor, water rights, land, beasts or just for the fun of it. The government does not exercize any substatial control over most places outside the cities. The tribesmen are both in the army and out of it and a favorite political move is for some dissident officer to desert taking many of his men and such odds and ends as; small arms; artillery and tanks to his home district after proclaiming “come and get me.” The tribesmen are heavily armed. An AK-47 is a standard accessory in personal fashion, and they DO shoot at each other a lot.
Salih has turned milking foreign powers into a fine art.
In my view the underlying problem being exposed is weak, incompetent, corrupt government in the Middle East. Is there any way to address this problem other than by stronger, more competent, less corrupt government? Is that something that can be created by mounting an offensive? And have we learned nothing?