Monday, April 20, 2015

Yemen, the Islamic Vortex, and Differences

Yemen is in the news. It is a nice way for the right to crow about a failed Obama policy. Har har, he called Yemen a success. It is a way for those of us on the outer edge to talk about the Islamic vortex. it is a way for Iran hawks to warn about the dangerous broadening of the Saudi-Iranian proxy war with those bad Iranians supporting those evil Houthis. The War Nerd has a great post and comes close. With the War Nerd, when in doubt, blame Western interests that you call domestic opponents. What if everyone is a little bit right, but also wrong. The Yemeni struggle is a domestic fight with domestic causes and motivations that everyone is pulling at to fit their view.

The airstrikes in Yemen were destroying the Al-Qaeda elements, but this is not blowback. Yemen is another piece of Muslim on Muslim violence because after the 20th century baby boom and polygamy locking out many men from life fulfillment, what were people going to do with surplus young men? This is not vortexy, more specific to Yemen. Yes, the Iranians are now helping the Houthis, but how much, with what, and how exactly? No one ever answers except for saying "training". The War Nerd does his normal devotional to rural tribes for fighting while desperately searching for a way to blame it on the American right. He is right the Saudis are scared, but wading through 5000 words of praise for rednecks because they happen to not be American rednecks is lame. Did anyone bother to read up on these guys? Frontline even did a documentary on them.

Their leader: your 8th grade math teacher

That is just the first two minutes, but note something in it. This is a homegrown group fusing Shia Islam with an anti-globalist agenda. Tell me who the drone strikes were on? Al-qaeda and the Sunni tribes they swam among in the general population. Here's the map of air strikes. Here is a map of areas of control. The airstrikes are not in Houthi held lands. The Houthi are not revolting due to the air strikes exactly, but foreign meddling in general when combined with who has political power in the capital. On a broader scope, the Houthi dislike the corruption of the Sunnis that we put in charge, and dislike the US global war on terror. This might sound shocking but the split of control right now looks a lot like the split during the Cold War, when Yemen was split into two separate states. The geopolitical quirk that makes unification desirable yet a problem due to the tribal and religious split is the Bab-el-Mandeb and the fantastic port of Aden being so close together. The empire would want one local warlord to rule over both spots so imperial bribes only have to go to one man. The geopolitical value is why the USS Cole was in Aden when bombed.

There was another conflict that was similar but viewed incorrectly as it fit into a broader ideological battle. Vietnam. Vietnam is the go to for US military intervention no matter the different scenarios, but for once, Vietnam is similar to the situation in Yemen not militarily but in how it is viewed. Vietnam was not another Chinese civil war or Korean war. Vietnam was an independence movement that had been fighting an outside force for decades before the US came along. Woodrow Wilson patted Ho Chi Minh on the head and sent him packing when he wanted support for self determination in the 1910s. The fight was against the French, the Japanese, the French again, and then the US. The terrible communists under Ho were smart to make their umbrella incredibly wide and use the call of "independence" to their gain. The American establishment incorrectly viewed this as a Domino theory problem, where the commie plague would spread as countries fell like dominoes. Vietnam was different. They did not see that in '54... nor in '64. No one wanted to "lose" another country even if the rest of Asia looked stable in the mid-'60s.

Yemen is a local fight, over local issues. The UN just voted to ban arm sales too the Houthi. No veto by Russia, and even the Saudis were okay with humanitarian provisions in the agreement. These are areas that have been based on tribal leadership and loose confederation for ages. These are distinct tribes, so bringing everyone together into arbitrarily drawn states from early in the 20th century looks like a bad idea right now. The Houthis have the numbers to say no more to Sunni puppets, and they can make it rough enough for the puppet masters to relent. Sykes-Picot is being blown up, and this will not stop in Mesopotamia. Arbitrary lines around the globe have been drawn up for different contemporary populations than the original inhabitants. We can all pray that reasonable accommodations and separations can be made so little Yemens do not pop up all over the globe. A fusion of Shia and anti-globalist efforts... replace the Shia beliefs with nationalism, ethnic rights or whatever rallying point, and this is just another piece in the anti-globalization push worldwide.


Alexandros HoMegas said...

I've been reading about the Yemeni Houthis, everyone classify them as Shia but some of their costumes are closer to Sunni.

You're right, this is simply a Yemeni infernal conflict but the Saudis seem terriffied with the tought of the Sunnis losing their dominance in the Arabian peninsula.

Anonymous said...

Vice magazine also did a piece on Yemen:

The second part of the video, the first is on the BP oil spill.

prcd said...

This is a local fight for self-determination and therefore none of our business. But why should we pray that "Yemens" do not pop up all over the world? Red state America resents the immoral, arbitrary and mostly unelected rule of DC. Why shouldnt it want self determination? It is taxed without representation. It is ruled bureacratically without consent.

Son of Brock Landers said...

PRCD, I want peaceful separation like Czechoslovakia did in the '90s, not war which looks increasingly likely. Not blue on red as much as USG on red because blue is a pet.