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 CENTCOM Week in Review (YE)