Friday, August 17, 2018

The Wars Go On in Yemen

Austin Bay explains Yemen. Which is necessary given the misinformation out there:

Critical facts on the ground don't support the cynical assessment that Yemen's chaotic war pits everyone against one another in a confused melee of carnage and starvation.

Do read it all. In many ways it is just a nearly ungovernable place. But it doesn't meant that the Saudi-led coalition isn't fighting a war that needs to be won to defeat Iran's efforts to plant their flag at the vital southern entry to the Red Sea.

My impression is despite the odd local alignments and reports of civilian casualties that sometimes make the news, the Saudis are slowly winning while trying not to lose too many of their own side's people.

Really, much of the reporting trying to make the war seem like a blood bath where Saudi pilots seek out little tykes to slaughter seems more like Iranian propaganda designed to undermine the Saudi-led effort that America supports. And the death toll is not nearly as bad as other wars, as I note in that post from the spring:

I don't understand why Westerners so often say that the scale of death in the Yemen civil war, as an aside in an otherwise interesting article on reforming Islam said, "has brought famine, disease and death on a scale that is almost unimaginable." The death toll in nearly 3 years in Yemen is under 14,000 dead. People are dying and suffering, but the scale is hardly unimaginable at under 5,000 per year. Yet Yemen inspires indignant horror in Britain while Syria's 400,000+ dead in about 6 years of serious fighting (the first year seemed more protest based with casualties rather than a civil war it evolved into, to me). Or compare it to the war in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Donbas where about 12,000 had died in nearly four years of war. The world yawns at 3,000 dead per year but 5,000 is unimaginable?

The Saudis should obviously try not to bomb a bus with children on it. But how many fighters have the enemy transported on similar buses? How many civilian structures are used by enemies to avoid Saudi air strikes?

When an enemy tries to blend in with civilians, they bear a good portion of the blame for civilian casualties.

Carnage and starvation in the context of what war unleashes is not apparent to me. Not that I would want to live in that environment. And not that carnage and starvation couldn't happen at some point. It is truly horrible for anyone who endures it.

But the Yemen war is not the horror show that people who may want Iran to win make it seem like.

UPDATE: More on the clusterfuck that Yemen political culture is. Fighting to kill jihadis and Iran's presence are the only reasons to fight there--state-building is just building castles of sand.