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January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

US-Backed Yemeni President and Entire Gov’t Resigns

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

The Iranian-backed Shia Houthi rebels captured Sana’a, the capital of Yemen in September. For the past two days the rebels surrounded President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s palace. On Thursday, Jan. 22, the president and his cabinet resigned.

Although Hadi had reportedly made concessions to the Houthis so that they would withdraw from the grounds surrounding his house, the rebels refused to leave.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the U.S. is assessing and seeking confirmation of the report of Hadi’s resignation.

In addition to the president and his cabinet, the entire government also submitted its resignation.

It is unclear who is in control of the Yemeni government at this moment, but the fear is that al-Qaeda, which has a strong presence in the country, will seize greater control.

US Warships in Red Sea, Prepare to Evacuate Embassy in Yemen

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

The USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry warships sailed into the Red Sea on Wednesday.

Both are positioned to take on foreign service employees and their families fleeing the U.S. embassy in Yemen, if deemed necessary. Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels overtook the presidential palace after a long barrage of shelling in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, on Tuesday, according to CNN. Information Minister Nadia Sakkaf told the news network, “The President has no control [over the country.”

Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi is believed to be in his private residence, and was not in the presidential palace at the time of the attack. However, the president’s residence is reportedly under attack as well, as is the prime minister’s residence as well, according to Sakkaf.

The attack on the presidential regime apparently comes in response to a decision to introduce a new constitution without the approval of the Houthi constituency. On Saturday, Houthi rebels also abducted presidential chief of staff Ahmed bin Mubarak in Sana’a.

The southern city of Aden is still reportedly under the control of the government regime, which closed the Aden port and sealed roads leading into and out of Sana’a, according to Yemeni state television. But the government has little other control, and it may just be a matter of time before even that much is wrested away by Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, the situation is becoming increasingly perilous for foreigners in the country – and for Americans in particular, given the ongoing “war on terror” being waged by the U.S. against Al Qaeda.

Yemen is home to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – the Al Qaeda branch that partnered with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the recent Paris terror attacks. AQAP claimed direct responsibility for the massacre attack on the offices of the French ‘Charlie Hebdo’ satiric weekly magazine.

The takeover of the Yemeni presidential palace came just a day after clashes between government forces and Houthi rebel fighters left nine people dead and 67 others wounded.

That clash followed an attack Monday night on a U.S. embassy vehicle in Sana’a. It is not clear who fired at the vehicle, which was clearly marked. U.S. diplomatic personnel were in the car at the time. No one was injured according to a report by Fox News Insider. So far the embassy is still open.

“[We] are deeply concerned about the turn of events in Yemen over the last few days,” a State Department official also told U.S.-based ABC News. “[We are] continuing to closely monitor developments…and adjust the embassy’s security posture response in accordance to the situation on the ground.”


Report: Shia Rebels Seize Control of Yemeni Capital Palace

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

The civil war in Yemen appears to have spiked dramatically Tuesday, Jan. 20.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Houthi rebels have seized control of the presidential palace in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a.

If the report is true, it is significant not only as a matter of internal Yemini interest. Yemen is yet another playing field in the Middle East in which the Islamic Republic of Iran is testing its strength. Iran is understood to be a major supporter of the Houthi rebels, which is a Shia Muslim group.

The Yemini government is Sunni. The United States as well as Saudi Arabia have assisted the Yemeni government in countering Houthi forays.

The Houthis have long controlled the north of Yemen, but since the 2011 “Arab Spring,” they have repeatedly pushed further and further south.

Al-Qaeda is also active in Yemen.

AQAP Claims it Bombed US Base in Yemen

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed that it took revenge on America and shelled a joint U.S.-European airbase in the Lahij province of Yemen, the Long War Journal reports.

Ansar al-Sharia, the front group for AQAP, claimed that this attack against U.S. interest was in retaliation for the rescue attempt in which the U.S. sought to release several AQAP hostages, including 33-year-old American journalist Luke Somers. That operation failed and Somers died, along with several AQAP terrorists. AQAP named Friday’s attack “Taking revenge for Our Martyrs.”

The attack was announced through an AQAP-controlled Twitter account. According to that account, the rocket attack took place 2:10 a.m. AQAP’s Hamdi al Tha’alabi Brigades launched six Grad rockets at the “American division at the al Annad base.

Nasr Bin Ali Al Ansi, one of the terrorist leaders, said in a video published on the group’s twitter account that the U.S could have “could have at least negotiated with us about some clauses or show sincerity” regarding the hostages. He blamed them for making “things to go in a completely different way than we wanted.”

The group wanted to exchange the hostages for the release of some detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Local media reported that an attack took place around that time at the al Annad airbase. Ambulances reportedly transported victims to a nearby hospital.

The al Annad airbase is reportedly where American-led coalition forces have their military advisers assisting the Yeminis in combating AQAP. It is the largest military airbase in Yemen, and is located in the south of the country.

AQAP also claimed it was responsible for a double improvised explosive device (IED) attack at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a last month.

These latest attacks on U.S. military advisers may become political fodder for the Democratic party during the upcoming presidential campaign, which the implacable leftists will claim as evidence that “no boots on the ground” does not mean Americans won’t get killed. Such political considerations may also play a role in the decision making about how or whether to respond to this attack.

2nd US Rescue Attempt Fails, Al Qaeda Hostage Dead

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

American photojournalist Luke Somers was killed Friday by his Al Qaeda terrorist captors in Yemen.

President Barack Obama offered his “deepest condolences” on Saturday and condemned the “barbaric murder” after Somers died in a second failed rescue attempt by U.S. forces after being held 15 months by Al Qaeda.

“On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to Luke’s family and to his loved ones,” he said in a statement. “As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located. And terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice,” he said.

According to a report on ABC News Saturday night, American special forces had already made one failed attempt ten days ago to save Somers.

In the second attempt, the special forces were 100 meters away from the hideout where Somers was being held, when an Al Qaeda guard stepped out from the compound unexpectedly, spotted the troops and raised the alarm.

Somers and a second hostage were both shot and badly wounded; Somers died on the way to the hospital but the second hostage survived the ordeal.

In the Short Run, Biden Might Well Keep his Promise that Iran Won’t Get Nukes

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

{Originally posted at author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s not just the promise, of course.  It’s the Bidenesque way he makes it:

Monday, Biden had to remind Israeli leaders that the U.S. is not seeking a negotiation with Iran at Israel’s expense.

“I have heard so much malarkey about our position on Iran,” Biden said. “We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period. I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line if I were not certain when I say it. We mean it.”

Daniel Greenfield casts a doubt or two on that 42-year reputation, and that’s fair enough.  We would be fools to take seriously such assurances from Joe Biden.

But there are reasons why Iran may well delay that moment of focused provocation when the radical Islamic regime proves itself nuclear armed.  If the Iranians don’t have the means to offer that proof yet, they are very close to it – so close that it is now their choice how fast to move, and in what way.

Where we are

Iran now lacks only the public demonstration of uranium enrichment to a weapons-grade level (above 95%), and a detectable warhead detonation.  To talk of a “breakout” capacity – a bomb-in-waiting – as something we are still looking for is now misleading.  Using such terms suggests that there is something more we need to see from Iran, before we officially set the breakout watch.

But the reality is that there is nothing we have yet to see that we can reliably expect to see.  We’ve reached the point at which it is prudent to assume the breakout watch has already started – and imprudent not to.

Fifteen years ago, Iran did not have a reliable uranium enrichment process; did not have an industrial-scale infrastructure for enrichment; did not have a stockpile of enriched uranium; did not have her own uranium production capacity; did not have a detonator mechanism for a uranium warhead; did not have a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and did not have anything close to an intercontinental missile capability.

As little as six years ago, moreover, the United States had more than enough ready combat power, between our Air Force and Navy, to quickly strike a meaningful blow against an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was still comparatively rudimentary and geographically concentrated.

Both of those conditions have changed significantly.  Iran now does have all the things she lacked in 1999: enough low-enriched uranium for at least 7-8 warheads; a proven enrichment process, including enrichment to higher purity (19.75%); an industrial-scale infrastructure, with geographic dispersion; an indigenous uranium production capacity (see here and here); a tested detonator mechanism for a nuclear warhead; at least one medium-range ballistic missile series that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and a satellite/rocket program advanced enough to support ICBM testing in as little as 1-3 years.  Iran has acquired almost all of these things since UN sanctions were implemented in 2007, and under the regime of IAEA inspections.

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

American military power, in the meantime, has declined to such an extent that mounting a quick, comprehensive strike on the Iranian infrastructure is no longer feasible.  We couldn’t do it quickly.  Not only could we not do it quickly; we couldn’t do it without first restoring the readiness of military units we no longer keep at their highest readiness level.  It would take months to prepare for a comprehensive strike campaign – and would require the prior allocation of special funding from Congress.

Where Iran once wanted to be

Iran’s vision for the future has been shaped, as everyone’s has, by the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It has also been shaped by the withdrawal of American power under Obama.

Four or five years ago, Iran took as a given the U.S. posture in the larger Middle East.  That posture included a key strategic presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan; close partnerships with almost all the Gulf Cooperation Council nations; special relationships, including military cooperation, with both Egypt and Israel; and unchallenged supremacy on the regional seas.

Iran’s basic objective was to peel America’s partners away through the pressure of proxy insurgencies (and other underhanded tactics), and thus squeeze us out of the region.  The first-order purpose of having the bomb was to immunize Iran against retaliation in that process, as the USSR had immunized itself with a nuclear “deterrent” force when it worked through proxy conflicts in the Cold War.

Iran also set her sights on chokepoints in the regional waterways, from the Strait of Hormuz through the Red Sea and all the way to Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar.  No one was close to having a navy that could challenge the U.S. Navy, but even great navies are vulnerable in chokepoints.

At a kind of eschatological-strategic level, meanwhile, just as the Arab Spring was unfolding in early 2011, Iranian TV was running a mullah-approved “documentary” that outlined a scheme of military preparation for the arrival of the “twelfth imam.”  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad figured as a great military commander from Shia prophecy in this fantastical oeuvre, which depicted a dénouement in the armed conquest of Jerusalem.  (“Rescuing” Jerusalem had already figured for years in Iranian policy rhetoric, as well as in the concept of some major military exercises.)

Where Iran now wants to be

In the years since Obama took office, much has changed.  One thing hasn’t, and that’s Iran’s interest in gaining leverage at critical chokepoints in the regional seaways.  But some of the focused urgency has been bled out of the pressure campaign against America’s regional partners, in part because of the Arab Spring, and in part because Barack Obama has been doing an excellent job of peeling them away from us himself.

The momentum of Iran’s efforts has shifted to a new, more geographically focused vector, one that as recently as 2011 appeared to be unthinkable.  Where once Iran was confined to putting general pressure on various American partners in the region, and perhaps maneuvering to leapfrog nearby territory in which we seemed established – Iraq, Jordan, Israel – Iran can now realistically contemplate making an “internal” line of communication (LOC) through that territory.  She might accomplish that by proxy first, and then, eventually, exploit the LOC directly.

In fact, with much of the territory in question now disputed between ISIS and a weak Iraqi government, Iran has all the more reason for being there, with advisors and military equipment.

The bonus?  The U.S., weakened and compromised as our power is, has signed up to do at least some of the fighting against ISIS.  If Iran plays her cards right, American forces will open her strategic LOC through the heart of the Middle East for her.

Control of Yemen Seized by Shiite Rebels

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

The small Arab nation of Yemen is where the “Arab Spring” began, and its citizens have had nothing but political turmoil and warring factions since then. Yemen is located on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

The population of Yemen is 65 percent sunni Muslim and 35 percent Shia. But on Sunday, Sept. 21, there are reports that the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, has been seized by Shiite rebels, and that the Yemini Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa has resigned.

The Shia rebels have been battling Sunni troops for days. Earlier in the day, a UN envoy, Jamal Benomar, announced that pro-government forces and Shiite rebels were about to sign a deal. Despite that announcement, the shelling and gunfire did not let up, residents have fled, shops are shuttered, flights are grounded and the Al-Iman University has been ordered closed until mid-October.

While Shiite are in the minority in Yemen, they are more populous in the northern highland region, which is where Sanaa, the capital, is located.

Yemen has been wracked with political turmoil since former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted from power in 2012.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/control-of-yemen-seized-by-shiite-rebels/2014/09/21/

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