Journal: Yemen, Guns, Tribes, & Deja Vu

02 China, 03 India, 04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 05 Iran, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security, Ethics, Government, Military, Peace Intelligence, Policy

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Three Guns for Every Person

Only Fools Rush Into Yemen

By PATRICK COCKBURN     January 11, 2010

The mounting crisis in the country only attracted notice when a Nigerian student is revealed to have been “trained” in Yemen by al-Qa’ida to detonate explosives in his underpants on plane heading for Detroit. But this botched attack has led to the US and Britain starting to become entangled in one of the more violent countries in the world. The problems of Yemen are social, economic and political, and stretch back to the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s, but Gordon Brown believes solutions can be found by holding  a one day summit on Yemen to “tackle extremism.”

Al-Qa’ida in Yemen is small, its active members numbering only 200-300 lightly armed militants in a country of 22 million people who are estimated to own no less than 60 million weapons. Al-Qa’ida has room to operate because central government authority barely extends outside the cities and because it can ally itself with the many opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in office since the 1970s.

Phi Beta Iota: Recommended by Chuck Spinney, author of the still-relevant Defense Facts of Life–The Plans/Reality Mismatch.  Yemen is a catastrophe in waiting, not least because the US secret intelligence community is incompetent at tribal or neighborhood level intelligence, does not speak the languages, and isolates itself from everyone who knows anything useful by demanding that they qualify for clearances.  It’s all-too-young analysts are locked in dark rooms and cut off from reality.  In Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Somalia, and now in Yemen we ignore the tribal balance of power at our peril–we are literally walking into an Al Qaeda trap–in our humble open source opinion–because the Yemeni government has learned from the Pakistani’s how to squeeze the Americans for money, is making promises it cannot fulfill, and the US “planners” are flying desks instead of their minds.

See also:

Journal: Yemen and the “Great Game”

Journal: What Al Qaeda Et Al Can and Cannot Do

Journal: From Europe on Muslim Blow-Back

Journal: CIA’s Poor Tradecraft AND Poor Management

Reference: WH CT Summary, POTUS Directive, DNI Blurb

Journal: Selected MILNET Headlines

Journal: Yemen Maps and Prospects

Journal: Evidence of Nigerian Terrorist Being Staged

Journal: Walking Into Al Qaeda’s Trap in Yemen

Journal: Underpants Bomber Shines Light on Naked USG–Without Four Reforms, USA Locked in Place

Journal: Yemen–Opening A New “Front” in the Long War

Journal: Historian’s View of CIA, Yemen, and Air Threat

Reference: One Tribe at a Time by Maj Jim Gant

Journal: Stabilization & Reconstructions Hot Spots

Event: 16-19 Feb 2010 African Conference on Peace and State Building

See also CENTCOM Week in Review (YE)