Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yemen Being Yemen

While I was distracted with tiny little inconveniences such as living my life, Yemen has become quite the busy place. A quick summary: Houthi rebels from the north went on the offensive (much like ISIS did in Iraq), captured the capital of Sana'a, forced the prime minister to step down, occupied multiple government buildings, signed a political deal with the Yemenis president, and then started battling Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters when their offensive collided with AQAP's offensive. At least that's how I'm interpreting all of what I'm reading.

Pause for breath.

First off, who the fuck are the Houthis? I'm showing my Yemen ignorance because apparently they've been around for awhile. Read the BBC article on them but in a nutshell they are a political movement/rebel group that follow a minority brand of Shia Islam. The Houthis did not particularly like the prime minister and after a military offensive in the north along with protests in the capital, they captured Sana'a. Of course, once you have the capital people start paying attention to what you want and President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi quickly signed a deal with the Houthis giving them what they wanted, mostly a new government under a new prime minister.

The Houthis aren't done, however. After taking Sana'a they've continued their offensive momentum and pushed into central and western Yemen capturing the port of al-Hudaydah which is Yemen's second largest port next to Aden. By moving into central Yemen, the Houthis have now come into conflict with fighters and tribal members loyal to our old friends Al Qaeda who have blunted the Houthi advance.

For a short while, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was seen as the AQ franchise most likely to cause trouble for The West and there were rumors Yemen may become the next Afghanistan. If you recall, The Underwear Bomber was part of a plot by AQAP to conduct attacks against the United States. Then AQAP fell out of the news and we all became distracted by ISIS, Ebola, The Bachelor, and whatever else we in The West (America) tend to get distracted by.

Of course I realize that I'm over-simplifying this conflict. The Houthis didn't just come out of nowhere and AQAP hasn't become entrenched in southern and eastern Yemen by accident. Yemen is a complicated place full of tribal grievances and political strife that goes back to the civil war in 1994. Well, more likely the conflict can be traced to when Yemen was actually two separate countries, or possibly when it was under British colonial rule. Or maybe the Ottomans are the blame? No no no, this must go back to the Ayyubid Dynasty.

But what can solve this everlasting tribal/political/cultural crisis? Airstrikes...duh.

Update: I'm aware that U.S. airstrikes are not meant to solve the conflict in Yemen. They are for killing AQAP douchewaffles.

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