Saturday, February 14, 2015

Yemen Continues to Be Yemen-Like

It's bad enough that our proto-partner (yeah, the "reality-based community" runs our foreign policy) Iran is popping the champagne that their Houthi allies have taken over Yemen's government, but now al Qaeda has taken a Yemen army base.


Al Qaeda-linked fighters seized a large army base in a dawn attack in southern Yemen on Thursday, militants and residents said, hours after the United Nations warned that the country was on the brink of civil war.

So now we have pro-Iran Shias on the rise in Yemen, but al Qaeda, too.

What? No aging Nazis coming out of hiding with the Ark of the Covenant?

Not that I particularly blame the Obama administration for this mess in Yemen. Chaos is its default setting. And the Shias really do have real grievances.

But the president should have known better than to boast of Yemen back in September as a model for our proposed operations in Iraq.

And the notion that this couldn't be seen coming over the last several months is ludicrous.

It is the Iran angle more than al Qaeda (as bad as that is) that makes Yemen particularly disturbing to me.

Strategypage has more:

Iran officially has nothing to do with all this, but Arabs know that the “victory” in Yemen is being celebrated in the streets of Iran (at least in conversation) and increasingly in Iranian media as well. This is humiliating for the GCC members and Sunnis in general. Iran has not directly intervened (but is suspected of supplying the Yemen Shia with cash and advice).

Read the rest for the highlights of this mess.

As Arab gulf states try to bypass the Hormuz choke point for their oil exports that Iran could attempt to shut down, Iran's ability to interfere in the Red Sea becomes more important.

Guess where Yemen sits?

So this Iranian victory is something that the Obama administration has to answer for, given their fantasy of a grand reset of relations with Iran to make them our partner.

If President Obama has cherished a long-held notion (that college-educated fools share) that he'll be remembered for his own "Nixon goes to China" triumph with Iran, he needs to re-think that analogy.

And in bonus "are you effing kidding me?" territory, President Nixon had Kissinger. President Obama has Kerry.

Yemen remains Yemen. And President Obama remains President Obama.

Have a super sparkly "smart" diplomacy day.

UPDATE: The losing side isn't done yet, naturally:

Forces loyal to Yemen's former president seized government buildings in the southern city of Aden on Monday after a five-hour battle, sources said, escalating a civil conflict that threatens to split the country in two.

Unrest in Yemen is something to deal with and adapt to, while killing jihadis. Absent Iranian involvement, I wouldn't much care about day-to-day score cards of who is up and who is down.

But giving Iran a victory is a bad idea. Hopefully, we're working the problem.