Tag Archives: Arab Revolutions

Revenge of Yemeni Nerds? New ‘Liberators’ Trounce Old Guard Tribal Islamists………

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“The Houthis’ rise to power reached a new peak in September, when the group successfully seized control over the capital, Sanaa, following a seemingly effortless armed campaign. Prior to the group’s arrival in Sanaa, the Houthis trailed across Northern Yemen, dislodging and challenging Yemen’s main powerhouse, Islah — a faction that acts as a political umbrella for several groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis — at every corner of every road. Yemen’s former undesirables accomplished what no one thought possible when they defeated Islah’s founding tribal family, the Ahmars, in their ancestral home of Amran, thus throwing the country’s balance of power off its axis. Endowed with a new sense of power, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi presented himself as the vessel of Yemenis’ discontents, the spokesperson of the weak and the poor, the liberator of Yemen…………”

This article makes it seem as if the Houthis were the classic unpopular abused ‘nerds‘ of Yemen who got their revenge in the end. Sort of like some people might think of Hezbollah compared to the bygone Lebanese society preceding the civil war years. Maybe it was so, but it is too early to tell in Yemen. It is always too early to tell how things will turn out in Yemen, just as it is in Afghanistan.

Yemen has had close tribal and trade ties with the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula since pre-Islamic days. It is all mentioned, nay recorded, in the Holy Quran. The Al Saud invaded the country in the 1930s but wisely pulled back after annexing a huge chunk of the northern part of that country.

In 1962 the Imamate monarchy of Hammediddeen was overthrown by military officers, after failed earlier attempts. The new and newly-deposed Imam started a lasting Arab tradition: he sought asylum and military help from his family’s old enemies, the Al Saud. Among those the Saudis enlisted to help reverse the order in Yemen were the predecessors of the Houthis (or now Ansarallah). With Nasserist Egyptian forces helping the Republicans on their border, the Al Saud struck back. The British who were worried about their colony in Aden and the ever-willing humorless Jordanians also helped. Nasser did not win the Yemen war of attrition, but he managed to salvage a compromise out of it: a republican regime in Sana’a, but a conservative one. That Yemen War degraded and tied down the Egyptian military, and any fighting experience gained did not benefit it in facing the shocking Israeli blitzkrieg of 1967.

Saudi media that are owned by the royal princes like Asharq Alawsat, Al-Hayat, and Alarabiya, have now dug up photos and other material from those 1960s days to show that the Houthis are a bunch of savages. Except that they were doing then what the Al Saud have always done, what they still do.

More than forty years later the Al Saud tried for a repeat, sending a military incursion into Yemen for the third time since their kingdom was established. They tried to intervene militarily on the Yemeni border against a Houthi rebellion in 2009. The lightly-armed Houthis handed a resounding defeat to Prince General Field Marshal Khalid Bin Sultan Al Saud and his superbly-armed but inept military. Which means the Saudis and their Emirati sidekicks will now probably limit their intervention to what they can do best: pump more money and sponsor acts of political and other disruption.

But we know that Yemen is not hospitable territory for outside invaders and meddlers. The current Yemen conflict is further complicated by Al-Qaeda (AQAP) imported from Saudi Arabia, local Wahhabis nurtured by Saudi money and ideological education, and Southern separatists. Any foreign power that thinks it can tame the country by military force will be disappointed: just as the Egyptians and the Saudis were disappointed in the past. That is why Arab media speculation on the Gulf about a coming Iranian intervention is mostly propaganda aimed at discrediting the Houthis and their allies. They know that nothing can excite and motivate American policy-makers more than mentioning the dual threats of Al-Qaeda and growing Iranian influence.

Yet the Iranians have had an interest in Yemen in the past, the Persians even controlled the country in ancient times, appointing satraps to rule it. The mullahs know that Yemen pokes uncomfortably right into the Saudi ribcage, so it might be tempting for them. Last year Gulf media reported that a ship carrying weapons from Iran was apprehended off Yemen. But they are probably not reckless enough to intervene in Yemen directly, at least they are not that reckless yet. So far they have avoided direct military intervention even in the more vital conflicts in Syria and Iraq. And it is not clear how things will settle down in Yemen, if and when they do settle down.

But then wars and revolutions and military incursions have their own logic: they can take you in directions you had never intended to go…………



America on the Nile, Whining on the Nile: Time to Grow Up on the Nile?……..


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These discredited Egyptian liberals made their bed with the generals, now they are being forced to sleep in it. So just relax and enjoy it for the next thirty years: you’ve earned it……………” Me

Here is my broad-brush take on political developments in Egypt since 2011:

  • In February 2011 during the uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, many of his Egyptian opponents claimed that the Obama administration was trying to shore up his position, to keep him in power.
  • On the other hand, many of his supporters complained that the United States was trying to overthrow him, by not helping him. Saudi King Abdullah, who famously claimed the protesters at Tahrir were foreign agents, is still pissed upset at Obama for not helping Mubarak crush his people.
  • After Mubarak fell, almost everybody in Egypt who was not an army general claimed the Obama administration was keeping the SCAF military junta in power. Some among the military probably suspected that Obama was ready to throw them under one of those crowded Cairo buses.
  • In the summer of 2012, Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won the presidency in free and fair close elections. His domestic and Arab opponents mostly acted as if the Obama administration had somehow helped him win the election. The Islamists claimed that he won in spite of American plots against him. Persian Gulf princes and potentates who could not tell an election from the proverbial ‘hole in the ground’ apparently suspected foul play. Egypt’s liberals joined forces with the oligarchs and the Mubarakistas and the Wahhabis to call for ‘restoration’ of the feloul.
  • In July of 2013 General Al Sisi, whom Morsi had promoted to minister of defense, stabbed him in the back by staging a military coup that overthrew the elected president. Al Sisi was urged to act by three factions: Egypt’s deluded liberals, the feloul, and the Gulf princes and potentates. The Muslim Brotherhood -MB- claimed the Americans were in cahoots with the military. Admittedly that was a very tempting suspicion, given the history.
  • At the time U.S. congressional delegations to Cairo had divergent opinions: McCain/Graham said correctly that July 3 of 2013 was a military coup; Bachmann/Gohmert (the idiot delegation) praised the military coup even as they told Egyptians of the joys of American electoral democracy.
  • The other side in Egypt, the liberals and oligarchs and feloul, claimed the Americans had made a deal with the MB and had wanted them in power. Egypt’s ‘liberals’, most of whom had urged the military to stage a coup and supported it, now proceeded to whine that the military had made plans with Washington to take power (after a coup that these same liberals pushed for and supported).

Continue reading America on the Nile, Whining on the Nile: Time to Grow Up on the Nile?……..

Impartial Foreign Monitors of Syrian and Egyptian Elections Are Happy with Great Big Zeros……


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media reported that an ecstatic Bashar Al Assad met with an uncharacteristically cheerful Iranian parliamentary delegation that had monitored the Syrian election. The Iranians insisted they did not care who won as long as the election went smoothly and everybody from Al Raqqah through, er, Beirut got to vote. They declared themselves satisfied with the election process. They claimed the elections were as free and fair as they had wished them to be, and the results (Assad won with 88%) were fantastic. “Could not be better”, said one bearded Iranian who insisted they were in Damascus as just impartial observers “to keep the honest, honest”.………

Egyptian media is quoted by my Cairo source claiming that General Al Sisi met with a gaggle of Gulf princes and potentates who had monitored the Egyptian election from the GCC democracy-monitoring headquarters in Riyadh. They declared the voting to have been free, fair, and very democratic, “almost as good as anything we have never seen back home”. One worthy grumbled that it was actually too democratic “if you ask me“, even if not tribal enough. When asked about the results (Sisi won with 97%), they said it was obviously fantastic and ordained by Allah and “why haggle over a lousy 3% discrepancy?”………
One smirking shaikh added his own version of a Parthian parting shot: “unlike that Great Big Zero election held in Syria“…….