Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yemen, Saleh, and Change

Yemen, in my opinion, is a mess.

I'm not writing about the culture, or the people. I mean:
  • The alleged national government
    • That quite a few Yemeni are fed up with
  • The folks who can't stand living in the 21st century
    • And kill anybody who won't agree with them
  • An economic SNAFU
    • That I think won't be untangled until the first two problems are dealt with
Yemen is the territory that has kept the U.S.S. Cole bombing mastermind more-or-less imprisoned. Except when he escaped and was recaptured. Or was released and recaptured. Or never escaped at all. I don't know which official story President Saleh and company finally decided on.

An Al Qaeda branch operates in Yemen, apparently, either because what's supposed to be a national government doesn't mind, or because the Yemeni president and his outfit can't control what happens in Yemen: or maybe a little of both.

As usual, when human beings are involved, I'm pretty sure it's more complicated than that.

But, bottom line? I think Yemen is a mess.

I also think it's been getting worse:
"Analysis: Yemen civil war likely without swift Saleh exit"
Cynthia Johnston, Edition: U.S., Reuters (May 26, 2011)

"Yemen may have little chance of averting a tribal civil war as heavy fighting spreads in the capital unless President Ali Abdullah Saleh quickly resigns.

"But Saleh, a stubborn political survivor, has likely already decided to fight to keep power in the strategic state where Gulf and Western allies are concerned that anarchy could give the strong Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda more room to operate...."

"Yemen worries G8, France and U.S. condemn Saleh"
Edition: U.S., Reuters (May 26, 2011)

"The United States and France stepped up their calls Thursday for Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, after overnight gunbattles killed dozens of people.

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Paris, urged all sides to immediately cease violence, and a French foreign ministry spokesman told reporters at a G8 summit that France blamed the latest bloodshed on Saleh's refusal to sign a transition deal...."

"U.S. Orders Nonessential Diplomats to Leave Yemen"
Associated Press, via (May 25, 2011)

"The State Department on Wednesday ordered nonessential U.S. diplomats to depart Yemen and urged all Americans there to leave as security conditions deteriorated, with the country's embattled leader refusing to step down...."
I don't think that 'anything would be better than Yemen keeping President Saleh.' At least the current Yemeni president doesn't seem to be openly backing Al Qaeda and like-minded groups.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia seem to want Saleh out: on practical grounds, it seems. The alleged leader of Yemen has botched the job of running his territory: and if folks in Yemen decide to remove him the hard way, outfits like Al Qaeda are likely to have even more leeway in how they run their operations there. That could be really bad for shipping in the region - which Saudi Arabia depends on.

In the short term, I think folks living in Yemen are going to have very unpleasant experiences.

President Saleh, understandably, wants to keep his job. Depending on just how angry his subjects are, he may even be concerned about keeping his life.

Taking a line through old-school leadership in Bahrain and Libya, Saleh may decide to kill people until the survivors like him: or at least say they do. That doesn't make sense to me, but autocrats seem to think slaughtering subjects to maintain loyalty will bring back their 'good old days.' Or maybe it's how they react when they're in a snit.

Whether or not Saleh manages to hold onto his executive perks, Al Qaeda isn't likely to stop killing Yemenis who aren't 'sufficiently Islamic,' or who simply get in the way.

And tribal leaders, whose nice, stable, culture got ripped out of the days of Ur and Babylon and dropped into a world of Coca Cola and Mickey Mouse? No matter how the mess in Sanaa is sorted out, they'll still have several thousand years of change to digest - fast.

In the long run, I'm cautiously optimistic that many or most folks in Yemen, in common with places like Somalia, Libya, and Syria, will catch up with the rest of the world: economically and otherwise. (May 10, 2011

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.