Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Yemen Expertise: Armies of Liberation

Need some help understanding the Yemen situation? Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation is the single best source.

By the way, she is banned in Yemen.

If you need some background on the US and British anti-al Qaeda effort in Yemen and whether it might work, Jane's site is the place to get info.

UPDATE: Case in point, a post on Yemen al Qaeda Threatens International Fleet wherein she notes a threat concerning the vital chokepoint Bab-al-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden.

UPDATE2: Al Qaeda in Yemen? See here:
FOUR of the world’s most-wanted terrorists are pictured together on an Al Qaeda publicity video.

The bearded militants are the terror network’s high command in Yemen and the masterminds behind Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s bid to blow up a US-bound jet on Christmas Day.

They are now the target of a series of strikes being planned by the US in retaliation for the 23-year-old Nigerian’s attempt to bring down the packed airliner over Detroit.

The attacks are likely to involve US drones, fighter jets and ship-launched cruise missiles against Al Qaeda camps and bases in the Arabian peninsula.
The four terrorists include two former inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp, Muhammad Al-Awfi and Said Ali Al-Shihri.

After their release in 2007 they joined the leadership of Al Qaeda in Yemen, the group that claimed responsibility for the attempted airline bombing.

Reports that the pair were killed on Christmas Eve have not been confirmed. With them is the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen, Naser Abdel Karim Al-Wahishi, also known as Abu Basir, and Abu Hurayrah Qasim Al-Reemi, his second-in- command.
UPDATE3: Friction with Yemen in the al Qaeda fight? See here:
The Yemeni complaints underscore how Washington and its allies have to step carefully as they work closer with the San'a government against al-Qaida. The government has little control outside the capital, leaving a power vacuum in large swaths of the mountainous, impoverished nations.

Heavily armed tribes hold sway in many areas, and some have allowed al-Qaida fighters to take refuge there.
UPDATE4:From here:
Civil war and lawlessness have turned Yemen into an alternative base for al Qaeda, which U.S. officials say has been largely pushed out of Afghanistan and is under military pressure from the Pakistani army in bordering tribal areas.

Yemen has been a long-standing base of support for al Qaeda. Militants bombed the Navy warship USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000, killing 17 U.S. sailors. And Yemenis were one of the largest groups to train in al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks in 2001.
UPDATE5: A "golden oldie" on al Qaeda's Maritime Threat.

UPDATE6: And another on Chokepoint Terrorism:
On April 26, 2008, the Islamist website Al-Ikhlas posted an article from Jihad Press, an e-journal reportedly linked to Al-Qaeda, which urges the mujahideen to establish naval terror cells. The article argues that gaining control over the seas and sea passages – especially around the Arabian Peninsula – is a vital step towards renewing the global Islamic caliphate.

It points out that such operations are feasible, because Yemeni groups have already carried out successful attacks against oil tankers, tourist vessels, and commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden; and other jihad fighters have carried out "two successful attacks on Zionist-Crusader targets in the [territorial] waters of Yemen: ...the attack on the American destroyer [USS] Cole in October 2000, and the [attack on the] French oil tanker Limburg in 2002."
Finally, the article stresses that the seas off the coast of Yemen, namely the Gulf of Aden, the Bab Al-Mandeb strait and the Red Sea are of supreme strategic importance in the campaign to expel the enemy from key locations. If the enemy loses these key areas, it explains, "he will not be able to defend himself on land and [to protect] his naval bases from the mujahideens' attack."
UPDATE7: From here:
The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. It is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Exports from the Persian Gulf must pass through Bab el-Mandab before entering the Suez Canal. In 2006, an estimated 3.3 million bbl/d flowed through this waterway toward Europe, the United States, and Asia. The majority of traffic, around 2.1 million bbl/d, flows northbound through the Bab el-Mandab to the Suez/Sumed complex.

Bab el-Mandab is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point, making tanker traffic difficult and limited to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments. Closure of the Strait could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal or Sumed Pipeline, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. This would effectively engage spare tanker capacity, and add to transit time and cost.

The Strait of Bab el-Mandab could be bypassed through the East-West oil pipeline, which crosses Saudi Arabia with a 4.8 million bbl/d capacity. However, southbound oil traffic would still be blocked. In addition, closure of the Bab el-Mandab would block non-oil shipping from using the Suez Canal, except for limited trade within the Red Sea region.
You can see that Yemen sits on that chokepoint.

Just in case you were wondering why Yemen might be important.

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