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News A Plan for Yemen

  1. Jan 7, 2010 #1

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    Yemen is a hotbed for terrorists! Luckily, I have a plan. It may not be the best, but looking at Iraq and Afghanistan, it can't be any worse:

    My plan is to encircle the country along the northern borders, with the support of the Yemeni government. Don't shoot ANYONE unless you have PROOF that they are highly hostile, and let anyone in who you aren't forced to arrest. (Of course, letting them out will require a bit more... scrutiny.) Then, without breaking the line, simply move the army inward, checking people as you go. Once you reach the southern point, you're done. It's over, go home, NO exception.

    Two potential problems:

    Manpower to cover Yemen's entire border will be a stretch. The only real positive point is that as you progress, less manpower will be needed, for obvious reasons.

    Also, it's probable that the people of Yemen as well as the countries of Yemen, Oman, and Saudi Arabia could... disagree to this response. However, looking at Iraq and Afghanistan, this can't be worse diplomacy-wise.

    Please give this idea serious thought, rather than dismissing it out of hand.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2010 #2


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    Time to do some history.

    Yemen didn't used to be a country, it was a British naval base (with a fence around it) and a bunch of sand. Aden was rather important, being halfway between the UK and India and vital to restock on coal and crumpets.

    After the Suez 'emergency' (war/invasion/cock-up?) the locals got a bit uppity and wanted their country back. The British responded in standard way - split the country in two, let them fight each other, leave us alone. This is the same technique that worked rather well in India/Pakistan, Ireland, Cyprus etc.

    That didn't look like it was working - so the British (without CIA involvement this time - which is why it on the whole worked) decided to ferment a little internal strife (it's not terrorism if your doing it). When a pro-Nasser president was elected, they supported the previous royal family that had ruled the feudal northern part to start a civil war. Although the royalists were in the words of the British commander "’shifty’, ‘treacherous’ and ‘despotic’ ".

    At this point the British PM decided he really should get permission from the Americans - telling Pres. Kennedy:
    ‘I quite realise that the Royalists will probably not win in Yemen in the end but it would not suit us too badly if the new Yemeni regime were occupied with their own internal affairs during the next few years’.

    This worked pretty well, a lot of British special forces get experience of desert warfare for most of the 60s while the Americans were practicing in the jungle, and the country stayed divided until 1990.

    Now again it would be useful to have a naval base in the area so we are going to have to liberate them again. This time you cant just say he his a threat to the empire and send a gunboat so you claim a Nigerian learned to be a terrorist there.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  4. Jan 8, 2010 #3


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    This actually came up at work the other day while waiting for a fresh pot of coffee. A co-worker (our CIO) spent the first 25 years of his life in Yemen. I'll paraphrase what he said below:

    Occupying Yemen would be an enormous mistake. Its terrain is very similar to Afghanistan's, even worse in many parts, which makes troop mobilization all but impossible. There is one airport which might be able to land a C-130, but nothing larger than that, so we'd have to transfer larger equipment in by helicopter, only then to find ourselves unable to go anywhere with it. There is one entry point into Yemen, and we would be lucky to get a Hummer across the bridge. If the bridge were to be blown, we'd be in an extremely undesirable situation.
  5. Jan 8, 2010 #4


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    Except maybe the first sentence, none of that is true. Heck, you can zoom in on Google Earth and see that the runway in the airport of the capital city is more than 10,000 feet long - jumbo jet sized! And one entry point? It's on the ocean! There's a mile long container ship pier in the main port city (and another 10,000 foot runway)!
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  6. Jan 8, 2010 #5


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    Checking for what? Most terrorists leave their Terrorist Local Chapter ID badge at home.
  7. Jan 8, 2010 #6


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    I am going to have to grill him about his claims on Monday. Apparently a lot has changed since he's been there. Either that or he's attempting to sandbag us gringos at work about the prospects of America occupying his homeland. :smile:

    From what I gathered, he seemed to be trying to say that the shoreline is pretty narrow and the mountains will funnel us in to one entry point which will not accept large equipment/vehicles. He may have been suggesting that even though we might be able to get all of the equipment/troops there, we wouldn't be able to go very far inland? Like I said, I'll have to ask him to explain the "whys and why nots" another time.
  8. Jan 8, 2010 #7
    A similar claim was made in a BBC news article but I cannot find it now.

    This is the closest I find:
    Here's the one I read:

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  9. Jan 9, 2010 #8

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    That's a good question. As I said, it's not perfect, and might not even be good. However, it is still, in my opinion, better than the plans we had for Iraq and Afghanistan, and, I fear, for Yemen at present.
  10. Jan 9, 2010 #9
    Hot sand, 100 yr old mud buildings and madrasas as the only entertianment in town make for young folks looking for a change where kafir embody their plight.

    Did I lose anyone?
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  11. Jan 9, 2010 #10

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    Not I, assuming "kafir" means foreigners.
  12. Jan 9, 2010 #11
    Kafirs are the infidel. Yemen is the world's qat king, and they do have guns.
  13. Jan 9, 2010 #12

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    Can you go wrong with guns?

    It's a joke question.

    My teacher says that the whole terror thing might be different if instead of sending 10,000 troops to some place or another, we built 100 hospitals and schools instead...

    Think on this: Al Qaida depends on a form of popular support. What would hapoen to them if we swung that popular support to our side?
  14. Jan 9, 2010 #13
    Kafir means infidel.

    Let’s put the whole invasion plan thing aside for a moment, and take a look at Yemen:
    This is a country where an old T-52 was sold to a tribe in a local bazaar a few years ago. This is a country where the army is the least armed sector of society. This is a country where people get so drugged up on Khat they build stuff like this:
    Yes, that rock is on top of a building. Yes, that building is on top of that rock.

    Yemenis are notoriously armed. Yemenis are notorious in the Arab world for their Khat habits. Yemenis are one of the most tribe-orientated societies in the Arab world. Yemen is a rugged mountainous country. In short, from an invader point of view Yemen is all the worse bits from Iraq, Afghanistan and even Nam rolled into one nice happy package.

    About the plan: The Saudis, from what they seem to be telling us, have stopped the Houthi 'invasion' of parts of southern Saudi, and now have a stable hold on their border. Beyond that border, its tribal rules. The government there doesn't exist as a strong entity, of at all.
    Next comes the hostile part. Nobody likes an invasion, we can all say that. Getting the Yemeni army to the northern borders would be a logistical problem, since the easiest way would be to ship 'em off to southern Saudi, then have them position themselves at the northern borders. Moving down, they will be a non-indigenous force entering a mountainous terrain in, what I presume, would be a 1800s European-style hold-the-line tactic. Now, I'm no military tactician but when I play Empire: Total War the worse thing I can do on a hilly terrain is spread my troops out across the whole map, then have them move forward and fire at any poor Frenchman that gets in the way. The worst thing you can do in such a situation is disperse your attack capabilities and try and take on the locals, the entrenched, angry, drug happy locals, head on. It will happen. You're talking about a gun saturated and highly tribal society which has always viewed anybody else with a gun as the 'enemy', being 'combed' for anything hostile. This is a place where the only way to keep the Salafis under tack is by arming the Shiites.
    Please take into mind that the current conflict is in fact, a number of conflicts. It’s about 3 conflicts, rolled into one. Take into mind that Yemen is a crunched up Afghanistan, except with real angry Arabs armed to the teeth instead of Arab-like Pashtu’s being armed by angry Arabs. Take into account the situation in Somalia to the south, where refugees come from, and where Al-Shabab has pledged to send fighters to Yemen from. The problem isn't simply that of a northern insurgency wanting to separate from the union, it is that of tribal disputes, Salafis wanting an Islamic system, Shiites wanting equality, southerners wanting a caring government, and everybody living in poor conditions.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2010
  15. Jan 9, 2010 #14

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    Pretty gloomy picture...

    One issue. My "long line" wasn't intended for battle, and it would obviously not work in battle. It's intended to prevent escape.
  16. Jan 9, 2010 #15
    No offense, but this is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard.

    Firstly, you've given no thought to logistics-- keeping your troops supplied as they do this. It would be very difficult and very expensive.

    Secondly, as someone has pointed out, they would have no idea what they were looking for.

    Thirdly, and most importantly, two things would absolutely happen: the people would revolt, and the Islamic world would hate America even more than it already does.

    Make no mistake. What you are proposing is an invasion. Soldiers entering houses, ripping people out of their homes, and interrogating them. How long would you put up with that?

    The people would fight, and they are armed, angry, experienced, and on their own terrain. The U.S. would flat out lose if they attempted this, or be forced to bomb the place into oblivion. Fortunately, they never would attempt such a fool-hardy endeavour.
  17. Jan 9, 2010 #16

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    Excellent refutation, dotman! Albeit a bit angrily worded (I've even heard military plans that are worse), it was still clear, powerful, and to the point. It was only missing one thing:

    Do you have any good ideas?
  18. Jan 9, 2010 #17
    Is there any good idea at all?

    Least undesirable will be buying the loyalty of local tribes with money imo.
  19. Jan 9, 2010 #18
    I think our (I'm American) current approach is pretty good. America cannot militarily secure every backwater in the world, to keep terrorist organizations from operating there. Funding the Yemeni government and pressuring them to engage Al-Qaeda is a good start, but they are stretched thin as it is.

    I don't know if we're doing this or not (I like to think we are), but we need to get assets on the ground, both attached to Yemeni government units and with the various tribes, to develop intelligence regarding Al-Qaeda operations. Once located this way we can either direct Yemeni government troops there, or strike ourselves with missles, special forces, whatever is most effective. No major commitment of ground troops, however.

    Yemen is the talk of today, but there are terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, all over Africa, and elsewhere. We can't invade them all. Ultimately our goal is to protect American lives by preventing terrorist attacks against Americans. The key to victory is good intelligence.
  20. Jan 9, 2010 #19
    The fence might have been the best idea.
  21. Jan 9, 2010 #20

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    And yet we don't even have one on our borders...

    Not a bad idea, but that depends on what you mean by assets.
  22. Jan 10, 2010 #21
    ok how we try money and we failed we try force and its look like they got more support

    so what ....?

    the only way to win is to use there own weapon the thougt it is after all those people think that there problem is AMERICA and they are poor and the problem in there goverment is AMERICA

    look to Goverment Media it is AMERICA we should attack and if we win you will have a dicent job

    it is war that related to people and what they feel no one will win if we use force or build hospitals

    when you build this kind of things people will be told that you are trying to trick them ! !!!

    so if trying to make them understand what is the real problem in there Yaman and try to make them do the think not AMERICA do it for them maybe ... we will win?
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  23. Jan 10, 2010 #22


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    It's two separate civil wars: an ethnic civil war in the Sadah governate in NW Yemn and a political civil war near Aden in the South. The second sprung up when losers of a previous civil war saw a new opportunity created by the civil war in the North. The problems with the two are completely different.

    The civil war in Sadah is the bigger problem and the one associated with Al-qaeda. So, in one sense, you're not talking about a country-wide operation. Then again, you're talking about a civil war in the most rugged and isolated part of the country. In fact, isolation of the region was how the losers of an earlier civil war were handled, which allowed a lot of ill feelings to fester - the losers became left out completely and their economic conditions have steadily deteriorated. The problem could practically be resolved the same way, again, but with the same disadvantages.

    In other words, the person saying economic aid would be more effective wasn't entirely wrong. If there had been a plan to fully reintegrate the region into the rest of the country, the current civil war might not have arisen.

    It looks like a chronic low-level problem. If Iran wasn't getting involved at least some level and if it wasn't sucking in al-qaeda, then it would continue to limp along without any international attention at all (other than immediate neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia).

    These type of civil wars continue as long as there's money and weapons flowing into the region. Stop the flow of money and weapons (i.e. - isolate the region again) and the war stops for years, maybe a decade or two. Or, use isolation to stop the current civil war and Yemen takes some action to reintegrate the region into the country's economy (this probably won't happen - Yemen's a poor country and no one is going to be thrilled at spreading the money even thinner).

    There's going to be a problem for the US if we jump into every local civil war that involves terrorist groups or Iran. There's a lot of poor areas where low level civil wars can go for decades, providing lots of opportunities for terrorist groups to find a niche. If the goal is to cleanse the world of all of these problems, then saying the war on terrorism will last over a century is a conservative estimate. We won't be playing whack-a-mole within an individual country - we'll be playing whack-a-mole with entire countries, moving from one civil war to another. I think new problem areas will develop faster than we resolve our current problem areas.

    I guess you could say the best solution would be to turn the entire world into a utopian place where everyone has the same standard of living (and level of consumption) as the US, but that would present some pretty overwhelming problems of its own, even if it were possible.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  24. Jan 10, 2010 #23

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    It's not.

    The American political Right would never raise other countries up (let the free market do it, they'll say, and their corporations need those countries poor), and the political Left needs those countries poor so they can get elected on their "Milk for the Hottentots" platform.

    In short, we will never raise other countries up, because both parties are ultimately against it.
  25. Jan 10, 2010 #24


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    The US used to jump into every civil war that involved communists.
    Now they only have to jump into any civil war that involves oil - there are a dozen number of countries that have oil and a similar number that are within missile range of oil tanker routes. So its a rather more limited problem.
  26. Jan 10, 2010 #25
    Here is my idea.

    This works for other undesirable countries (cough*poland*cough)

    I introduce you to the LGM-30 ICBM. Let's pwn some terrorist arseholes.
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