Thursday, April 2, 2015

Some Middle East Conundrums

If you want to know why secretaries of state go mad, consider:

—  The US has been droning Qaeda men in South Yemen and giving billions to Yemen’s dictators to fight them, and Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is now one of the strongest brands of radicals there is; 

— The Southern Separatists, inclined to favor British governance, originally opposed Qaeda but began to support it when drones killed many of their relatives, without cause or explanation; 

— The quasi-Shia Houthi are fighting the radical Sunni Qaeda in Aden - the principal city in South Yemen, aiding the US objective there; 

— The Saudis are bombing the Houthi, falsely claiming that the Houthi are a tool of Iran whom we hate and love, because they fear that Houthi power will spread to the Shia who make up a majority of the residents of of the Saudi Eastern Province, their main oil producing province;

— The US is providing the Saudi with logistical support, while continuing to fight Qaeda;

— Thee Saudi have asked Pakistan for boots on the ground to help it in it’s defense and offense, since its military is ineffective, and Pakistan is wavering on joining the Saudi bombing of Yemen, fearing that doing so will make their own Shia-Sunni divisions  worse;

— The Coalition of Five which is negotiating with Iran over the Bomb has differing positions, making it hard for Iran to agree to anything;

Israel, should be worried more about the Egyptian-Ssaudi-Pakisani military cabal now taking shape more than about Iran;;

— That cabal consists of  our “friends" in the Middle East,  nations to whom we give billions a year.

—  Kerry does not sleep well.  Neither would you, if you had to hold all this together.

— Obama sleeps well, content to do the best he can in the circumstances.  I think.

The New York Times
Qaeda Militants Attack Port City in Yemen, Freeing Prisoners

 AL MUKALLA, Yemen — Militants from Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate stormed this southern port city early on Thursday, attacking several government buildings including the central prison, where they freed hundreds of inmates, according to residents.
It appeared to be the first large-scale operation by the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, since the beginning of a military offensive led by Saudi Arabia onYemen more than a week ago, and a further expansion of the violence rapidly spreading across the country.
In an apparently coordinated offensive that began after midnight, the militants attacked security headquarters, the presidential palace and other official installations. That appeared to be intended as a diversion before the militants attacked the central security prison, their primary target.
Witnesses near the prison said they saw hundreds of inmates file out. Afterward, looters descended on the prison, they said.
  • Al Mukalla, the capital of the oil-rich Hadhramaut Province, had been spared much of the recent unrest in Yemen’s accelerating war. The fighting began in earnest weeks ago in the southern port city of Aden, where forces loyal to the president of Yemen, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is now exiled, clashed with allies of the Houthis, a northern militia that controls the capital and forced Mr. Hadi from power.
Last week, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of countries, with support from the United States, began a broad military offensive against the Houthis, ostensibly aimed at restoring Mr. Hadi to power. Many have begun to question the aims of the military campaign, as the Houthis have continued to advance, including deeper into Aden, and the toll of the fighting on Yemeni civilians has become increasingly severe.
The attack on Thursday was the first indication of how Al Qaeda was capitalizing on the growing anarchy, at a time when Yemen’s American-trained counterterrorism troops have come under attack by the Saudi-led military coalition.
A similar attack by Al Qaeda in late March on a town in Lahj Province forced the Obama administration to withdraw its last military advisers to Yemen, who were stationed at a base near the town. The administration has said it is providing intelligence, logistical support and targeting guidance to the Saudi-led campaign.
Explosions and gunfire could be heard throughout Al Mukalla overnight. Clashes continued in the city later on Thursday morning, as local military units backed by helicopters fought gun battles with militants in Al Mukalla’s old city, according to witnesses.

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