Sometimes, more can be learned from what a world leader fails to say.
Just prior to the President’s speech, California Senator Dianne Feinstein urged that the embassy be closed immediately and the personnel evacuated.
The U.S. government should immediately close and evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
I asked her today whether the embassy, which remains open despite raging violence throughout the Yemeni capital, should be closed. She responded: “Based on what I know so far, yes.”
“I’m very concerned about our embassy there, who is still there, who isn’t still there, and what the plans are,” Feinstein added.
Contrast this to what the President said of Yemen just last September:
President Obama recently told Thomas L. Friedman of The Times that failing to help Libya form a new state after the fall of Qaddafi was his biggest foreign policy regret. Yet the fate of that country has been largely absent from discussions about the new war, which is certain to last longer and unleash a wider array of consequences.
Instead, Mr. Obama, in making the case for carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State, drew a dubious parallel to counterterrorism efforts in Yemen, which he billed as successful.
While dangerous Al Qaeda offshoot organizations in tribal areas of southern Yemen have been weakened by drone strikes, calling Yemen a success story is absurd.
Not only absurd, but potentially dangerous to Americans in that country. Just because Obama scrubbed any mention of Benghazi doesn’t mean we have forgotten the lives lost there.
VICE News recently compiled a video, “Yemen: A Failed State”:
Heavily featured in this analysis is another group that somehow escaped mention in the year’s State of the Union Address: Al-Qaeda. It appears as if these terrorists are no longer on the run; their Yemen branch claimed credit for the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.
Richard Spencer, Middle East Editor for The Telegraph, has a substantive analysis of region — pointing out the clear winner (Iran, as supporter of the Yemen rebel group) and the obvious losers in recent events.
An Iranian politician close to that country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could not contain himself. Ali Reza Zakani, an MP, boasted that Sana’a [Yemen’s capital] was now the fourth Arab capital in Iranian hands – after Beirut (through Hizbollah), Damascus (through President Assad) and Baghdad (through Iraq’s democratically elected Shia-led government).
…[O]on the surface, a stunning blow for the West. The US and UK – and regional allies like Saudi Arabia – strongly backed a political settlement in Yemen following an “Arab Spring” uprising against the country’s long-time leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in late 2011.
That put a pro-western replacement, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in office, presiding over a parliament that was supposed to represent all shades of Yemeni political thinking apart from al-Qaeda, which is strong in some southern and eastern parts of the country.
Truly, more was learned last night about the state of the Union by figuring out what Obama failed to mention. Let’s just hope our people come back home safely.
Posted by Amy Miller Tuesday, January 20, 2015
“U.S. Navy on alert”
Yemen is in chaos.
For the past two days, Shiite Houthi rebels have laid siege to the presidential palace. Now, reports claim that the rebels have seized the palace; and the status of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi remains unknown. Although the Houthi rebels are not targeting Americans—at least for the time being—U.S. officials are preparing for the possibility of a “non permissive environment,” meaning that the city of Sana’a will have descended into combat-like conditions.
Unfortunately for Americans in Yemen, evacuation isn’t simply a matter of driving to the airport and hopping a flight.
If an evacuation is ordered, the first option would be to have embassy personnel drive to the commercial airport in Sanaa and fly out, the official said. But in the wake of an embassy car being fired Tuesday, the safety of the roads in the capital is now being constantly evaluated, the official said. If embassy workers did drive to the airport it is likely some sort of air cover would be provided, under the current plan.
Other detailed military planning for various options has been finalized, the official said. Those options would be used if a request for military assistance were made.
If helicopters and V-22 aircraft from the ships are sent to Sanaa, it would be a complex operation that could last for several days to fully evacuate “several hundred Americans” from the embassy, the official cautioned. “Nobody should think this would be easy.”
The Houthi rebels claim that they’re working for a more democratic Yemen, but analysts are skeptical of the group’s claims, and worry that a successful coup could lead to further radicalization.
The Houthis are an offshoot of Shiite Islam that is known as Zaydism, and they have put together a militia that has been fighting the central government on and off for the past decade.
The Houthi leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, 33, is considered a saint by his followers. The militia, which is widely believed to be backed by Iran, claims it is willing to work with other groups in Yemen and would like a democracy.
But the majority Sunnis feel threatened by the minority Houthis, whose rise could easily lead to increased sectarian friction in Yemen, the poorest of the 22 Arab countries.
“Yemen could become another Afghanistan — a failed state dominated by warlords and extremists, and with even fewer prospects for the young revolutionaries who just three years ago thought their nightmare had ended,” Middle East analyst Robin Wright wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Unrest has plagued Yemen since 2004, when now-rebels revolted over perceived discrimination on the part of the majority Sunni government. In September, the rebels began to move out of their traditional strongholds in north Yemen and into new territory.
As of right now, plans are to evacuate only State Department personnel if conditions deteriorate; U.S. officials haven’t yet decided whether or not to extend evacuation orders to other Americans in Yemen.