Why the Hell Is Yemen Shooting at the United States Navy?

Explainer

Ryan BohlRyan Bohlis a Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor.
The American amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry prepares to transit the Suez Canal, January 10, 2015
The American amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry prepares to transit the Suez Canal, January 10, 2015 (USN/Jonathan B. Trejo)

Of course, it isn’t Yemen shooting the navy at all, but the question would be fair to a layman.

Three times, Yemeni rebels (Rebels? Perhaps; but we’ll get to that later) have fired upon US Navy ships guarding the Straights of Aden. Now the United States has fired back, bombing from afar radar sites.

For Westerners, and especially Americans, creaky old stereotypes roar to life: Ali Baba, the Mad Dog of the Desert, lingers in the Western mind, reinforced by the shadows of Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and now, most recently, Bashar al-Assad. Mad dogs, perhaps, but none were Yemeni.

There are layers upon layers of conflict here, all of which can be seen as reasonable in and of themselves but which complicate the matter of Yemen beyond the layman. It was not a mad dog nihilistically hoping for cruise-missile-delivered paradise who fired those missiles at the US Navy, nor do such folks give form and function to the overlaying conflicts within Yemen.

But first, we must understand Yemen. Read more “Why the Hell Is Yemen Shooting at the United States Navy?”

Yemen Ceasefire Holds as Parties Gather for Peace Talks

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

A weeklong ceasefire appeared to be holding in Yemen on Tuesday as leaders of the country’s warring factions met in Geneva, Switzerland for peace talks.

Just before the truce was due to come into effect, two commanders from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were killed when Houthi rebels struck an army camp near the city of Taiz on the Red Sea.

The Saudi-led coalition that claims to seek the restoration of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, who was ousted in January, retaliated with airstrikes around Taiz and along the Saudi border with Yemen, the Houthis said.

Earlier negotiations in Geneva, held by the United Nations, failed to end the conflict.

The nominal purpose of Tuesday’s talks is to reach agreement on how to implement a UN Security Council resolution passed in April that calls on the Houthis to vacate several of the cities they have captured, including the capital, Sana’a. Read more “Yemen Ceasefire Holds as Parties Gather for Peace Talks”

Saleh Supporters Back Yemen Truce as Saudis Claim Progress

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

Supporters of former Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh and the country’s Houthi rebels have accepted the terms of a United Nations-brokered peace plan, Gulf media report.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition supporting Saleh’s successor, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, said they had driven the Houthis out of Ma’rib, a province in the center of Yemen. Read more “Saleh Supporters Back Yemen Truce as Saudis Claim Progress”

Saudi Arabia’s No Good, Very Bad War in Yemen

Analysis

Ryan BohlRyan Bohlis a Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor.
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Prince Muhammad bin Nayef speaks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh while Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir looks on, January 27 (White House/Pete Souza)

Caveats! “Bad” on this website is rarely used for moral condemnation. So there’s that.

“Bad” here refers to the fact that Saudi Arabia cannot win its war in Yemen. Best-case scenario is they escape with their tails between their legs. Worst case? The cracking of the Saudi state and chaos beyond imagining.

But let’s do some wayback and remember how we got here in the first place. Read more “Saudi Arabia’s No Good, Very Bad War in Yemen”

Emirates Deepen Involvement in Yemen, Saudis Back Islamists

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

The United Arab Emirates have stepped up their involvement in the war in Yemen as Saudi Arabia backed Islamists the smaller Gulf state still regards as a threat.

Earlier this month, the Emirates sent some 3,000 troops to Yemen. The Financial Times reports that their involvement was critical in pushing the Houthis out of Aden, formerly the capital of South Yemen, where resistance against the Shia rebel group from the north is concentrated.

The Emirates also deployed armored vehicles and tanks while some one hundred special forces have been on the ground since May.

Five Emirati soldiers were recently killed in fighting, according to state media. Read more “Emirates Deepen Involvement in Yemen, Saudis Back Islamists”

Hadi Irrelevant as Saudis Bogged Down in Yemen

Analysis

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

Saudi Arabia’s nominal goal of restoring President Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi in Yemen looks increasingly unattainable as the kingdom is being dragged deeper into a sectarian war.

Despite a victory against the Houthis in Aden this week — where Hadi had held out after being forced out of the capital, Sana’a, by Houthi rebels in February and before he fled to Saudi Arabia — four months of bombing have done little to set back a group the Saudis see as a proxy for their regional nemesis, Iran.

United Nations mediation has gone nowhere. A truce announced last week was immediately broken. Read more “Hadi Irrelevant as Saudis Bogged Down in Yemen”

Despite Announced Truce, Fighting in Yemen Continues

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

Warring parties in Yemen endorsed a United Nations-brokered truce on Friday but fighting in the small country continued while jets from Saudi Arabia carried out attacks as usual.

The pause in fighting is meant to coincide with the end of the Muslim holy of Ramadan and would allow humanitarian aid to reach millions of Yemenis who have been battered by four months of war.

“We hope this truce will be the beginning of the end of the Saudi aggression and the end of the violation of United Nations conventions that the war of aggression on Yemen has seen,” the top Houthi leader, Mohammed al-Houthi, said in a statement.

But in a televised statement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, another prominent figure in the movement, expressed doubt. Read more “Despite Announced Truce, Fighting in Yemen Continues”

Saudis Step Up Yemen War, Deploy National Guard

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that one operation in the regional military intervention the kingdom is leading in Yemen was drawing to a close while another effort, dubbed “Restoration of Hope,” began.

No more information about the new operation was immediately released. Read more “Saudis Step Up Yemen War, Deploy National Guard”

As Saudis Bomb Yemen, Iran Just Has to Sit Back

Analysis

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

As Saudi-led airstrikes appear to have done little to set back the Houthis in Yemen so far, doubts about the kingdom’s ability to meet its stated objectives in the impoverished Arab country are growing.

Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen last month at the head of a broad Arab coalition that also includes Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other Sunni-led countries that see the Houthis as proxies for their regional nemesis, Iran.

The Houthis’ advance on the port city of Aden, where Yemen’s internationally-recognized president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, had holed up, triggered the military action. Read more “As Saudis Bomb Yemen, Iran Just Has to Sit Back”

America Speeds Up Arms to Arabs Fighting in Yemen

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.

The United States announced on Tuesday that weapons deliveries to Arab allies who are fighting Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen would be expedited.

In a visit to the Saudi capital Riyadh, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the kingdom for sending a “strong message” to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Besides speeding up arms supplies, the United States will also boost intelligence sharing and establish a joint coordination center for the operation in Saudi Arabia, Blinken said.

Thirteen days of bombing by military jets from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states in the Middle East appear to have only slowed the Houthis’ advance. The airstrikes as well as several airdrops of weapons have enabled fighters loyal to Yemen’s internationally-recognized president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, to stop the northern rebels taking over the port city of Aden. But the Houthis remain in control of much of the west of the country. Read more “America Speeds Up Arms to Arabs Fighting in Yemen”