October 9, 2013

All Is Quiet in Yemen...

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Volodymyr Guzenko - a graduate of the Military Institute of Foreign Languages ​​(Moscow).

Born in 1947 in Voronezh region (Russia).

Service in the Armed Forces of the USSR - 1966-1992 years

Business trips:
- Yemen Arab Republic (1969-1970, 1974-1976);
- Arab Republic of Egypt (1971-1973);
- Libya (1988 1991).

Performed duties in other countries of the Middle East and Europe, including the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan, UAE, Kuwait, Tunisia, Malta and Italy. Now Volodymyr Guzenko is in the Republic of Yemen, where he can watch one of the revolutions of the “Arab Spring” on the spot.

Speaks Arabic and English.

 

Anyone who has been tracking the situation in the Middle East, certainly noted the very unusual burst of activity of the U.S. State Department, which, on the basis of the decoded by NSA negotiations between the leaders of the so-called “al-Qaeda”, has concluded about the alleged preparation of a major terrorist attack against the United States. A real hysteria has burst in the media and following it — a panic that led to the emergency evacuation of almost all Western embassies from Sana'a, the capital of Yemen...

But was it all in reality? Did the U.S. State Department not hurry with its conclusions, knowing that it was, to put it mildly, not true?

Recently, on the Red Sea arrived a detachment of the U.S. Navy, a bit later — a group of British warships. Both detachments were from the amphibious forces, that is to say marines. But while about the British everything was clear — they had arrived in the Gulf of Aden to allegedly participate in the “Cougar13” trainings, the Americans at first simply dropped out of sight. It had not been officially reported either how many of them, nor where and why they had come. As we found out later, the so-called “Expeditionary Strike Group Kearsarge”) named after the flagship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) — multi-purpose amphibious assault ship. By the way, there are a total of 11 such strike groups in the USA, and six of them are currently active.

On landing ships is based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit of the United States (26 MEU) of up to 2,200 people
On landing ships is based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit of the United States (26 MEU) of up to 2,200 people http://maxpark.com/

The group includes three amphibious ships and several escort ships (a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate, — all with guided missiles, — a submarine). On landing ships is based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit of the United States (26 MEU) of up to 2,200 people. It has means for strengthening and the aviation support group, mainly helicopters.

26th MEU was noticed in Iraq (Basra), Afghanistan (Kandahar), in Libya, and before that also in Kosovo (remember, some of its logistics specialists and repairmen were in captivity there).

26th MEU with an escort was heading across the Red Sea from the Mediterranean to one of the Navy bases (NB) in Oman, where it has been based lately. Independence Day, July 4, the sailors met off the coast of Yemen (on the site of the flagship there is a photo report on the event). Having passed the Red Sea and arrived in Gulf of Aden, the squad simply disappeared from sight.

It might seem familiar. But only at first glance. Chronology of events developed further by a specific scenario.

CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd J. Austin 3rd
CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd J. Austin 3rd http://commons.wikimedia.org/

CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd J. Austin 3rd arrives in the Capital of Yemen, Sana'a. He has 37 years of service in the armed forces behind him. Coming from the 82nd Airborne Division, he was noted in all “hot spots”, including Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, from 2010 to 2012, he was the Commander of the Multinational Forces. After that, he took the chair of Vice Chief of General Staff (i.e. the Deputy Commander), and in March 2013 he led CENTCOM.

When meeting with President Abdo Rabbo Mansour, he quite frankly outlined his thoughts, without an attempt to get around the thorny questions. The meeting was also attended by the leaders of Yemen's Ministry of Defense. American General also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen, al-Kirby. Thanks to these meetings, very interesting facts turned out that shed light on seemingly strange moments in the recent history of Yemen.

American General also met with with President Abdo Rabbo Mansour and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen, al-Kirby

American General also met with with President Abdo Rabbo Mansour and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen, al-Kirby

Without dwelling on the protocol when in such cases, they usually speak on “strengthening bilateral cooperation in struggle against terrorism”, economic difficulties, “successes” of the National Dialogue (here, by the way, the President voiced an interesting idea: “The national dialogue has pulled out opposing sides from behind barricades to the negotiating table”), here is a small selection of the voiced by General Lloyd Austin themes.

The General has announced that 26 MEU will stay in the Gulf of Aden “to aid and assist the British amphibious rapid reaction group during the “Cougar 13” trainings, in particular, during the “evacuation of British citizens from Djibouti.” (That is, until December 2013 will be practiced the question...of evacuation of several Brits). It turns out that these two powerful landing groups will be near the Yemeni coast a few more months...

The General has said that Yemen is in the area of CENTCOM's ​​responsibility, and he, as the Commander, does care about the situation in Yemen. That is why he hastened to assure the President that in Yemen and around it the U.S. troops will help the authorities keep peace, suppress riots and prevent the fire of civil war.

To solve these problems the contingent of Marines in Yemen will be increased. Recharge has been sent to Sana'a and Anad base. At the air military base (AMB) Anad, is already deployed an air group of 12 strike and 6 reconnaissance UAVs, together with the engineering group of about fifty people. There are also deployed an Anti-Terror Battalion (Group), Battalion of Marines, more than 120 armored fighting vehicles, as well as Intelligence and Information Unit there.

In Aden, U.S. experts together with the Yemeni personnel have equipped an “Advanced Information Centre”; a similar center is deployed in Sana'a. Both centers via satellites are integrated into the global Intelligence network of the USA. If necessary, will be resumed flights of reconnaissance aircrafts “Orion” in problem regions, like it was recently over Sana'a on August 8-10, 2013.

The United States are passing over to the Yemeni border guards 12 reconnaissance aircrafts “Cessna 422” with thermal-vision and other reconnaissance equipment worth about 42 million US dollars, and 100 armored vehicles and advanced means of communication.

In respond to the President's statement that Yemen, within the framework of the war against terror, needs its own UAV, the General replied that the request would be carefully considered, but the final decision would be made in Washington.

In a word, the General has clarified many things, but at this, lots of new questions arose to which there are no answers yet. But soon there will be ones.

We should pay attention to the fact that Americans have mentioned more than once the “assistance to the government in suppressing the riots...” meaning the following steps:

  • President accepts this assistance;
  • President and his U.S. “partners” are very apprehensive about riots which soon will allegedly spontaneously erupt into civil war.

We can't agree here: the threat is real, serious and can come right now, well, at least, in the nearest future. The sources of this threat are as follows.

The first and most real is the problem of the South. The second is the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Americans began to “get rid of”. The third is the events in Syria and possible Americans' attacks on it.

Let us consider them one by one.

The problem of the South is becoming a problem in the full sense of the word. The refusal of the delegation of H. Janubi to participate in the National Dialogue (ND) has put in jeopardy the whole idea of this dialogue. Trying to attract the Southerners to the dialogue, the Prime Minister conducted through the Cabinet of Ministers the so-called “official apology” to the South for the war of 1994. This apology has been rejected by all “Kharak Janubi's” organizations and parties (“Movement of the South”).

Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa
Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa http://modus-agendi.org/

In order to somehow improve the matters, Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa on behalf of the whole Yemeni guaranteed Southerners compensations to the families of the killed, the wounded, maimed in battle with the Northerners, return of property and captured land, etc. However, this actual surrender of the government did not bring the desired effect. The representative of the Southerners (he, by the way, is also the head of the ND working group “The problem of the South”) Mohammed Ali Ahmed urged to boycott all these invitations to ND, and to discuss the issue of compensations within the framework of intergovernmental negotiations between the revived PDRY and North Yemen. In other words, first “we’ll solve the question of secession”, then - the rest of problems.

Simultaneously, the former last President of PDRY Ali Salem al-Beidh, who signed the Act of Union, and soon took over as Vice-President of a Unified Yemen (now one of the most irreconcilable separatists, by the way, supported and nourished by Iran), called for a “general civil disobedience.” And after a few days, many government offices of Aden were closed, almost all the shops, stores, schools, police stations, the Municipality of Crater, Khor Maksar, Mualla and other districts of Aden.

Most of the participants of actions were aggressively tuned, poorly controlled armed young people. It was on this wave that a few days ago, right on the main street was shot the Head of the Political Security of Aden Colonel Hadi. The Army, Police and Security Forces are on full alert. From central districts to the area of Aden and Lahij have been transferred additional forces.

Separatist leaders keep warming up the whole population, and a social explosion is quite possible. And the United States do not allow to take apart the sole Yemen: try and find an agreement with independent Southerners...

Muslim Brotherhood”, in turn, have increased the pressure on all fronts and at all levels. An example is at least the above mentioned Cabinet's decisions. The President was strongly against any apology and, especially, against compensations, as the state's treasury is empty. Over the last two weeks of September, more frequent became terrorist attacks, written off on al-Qaeda, which, as we know, is the “Muslim Brotherhood”.

The new “detail” is suicide bombings. One of them blew up a “shakhid belt” in the market of Sana'a. Another was driving a car bomb near a checkpoint in Hadhramaut. A bus with students of the College of the Air Force and Air Defense, was bombed. On the same day two Air Force Colonels were killed in the street. Last week in Lahij was killed the Chief of the local Department of Political Security, Colonel Hassan Ali Mansuri.

Such actions occur almost daily. Last year alone, were killed 79 officers of the Political Security, this year — about 50. And this points directly to Muslim Brotherhood, which did not manage to gain control over this service.

On the streets of Sana'a again there are pickups driving around without license plates with armed militants — Sheik El-Sadiq enhances their “grouping” in Sana'a. There has appeared information that General Ali Mohsin and Sheikh Sadiq are preparing a military coup.

Changes in the relations between the United States and “Muslim Brotherhood” very much affect local “brothers”. Not receiving support and aid from Qatar and the United States, the leaders of the “brothers” in Yemen has got nervous, and, not wanting to lose their positions, I think, are ready to go at all. The degree of their nervousness is well defined by their response to the arrival of General Ahmed Ali, son of the former president, now YR Ambassador to the UAE, at the wedding of his own sister in Sana'a. “Brothers” became agitated, “What wedding? It was already in Dubai!” “He has come to lead the campaign to eliminate the “brothers”, “Ahmed is Yemeni al-Sisi!”— and so on. Ahmed was forced to increase his security. In general, the commotion was real. Only time will tell what the grounds for it were.

In the evening of August 31, in Hadda Street in Sana'a was shot the motorcade of Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa. Prime Minister was not injured. A day before the motorcade of Information Minister Ali Amrani was shot. The latter was not hurt either. Here the question arises — maybe, Ahmed really came not to the wedding? On Saturday, September 14, fighting broke out between Hussites and Salafis in the province of Saada again. Hussites unleashed fighting at 4 a.m., using artillery and tanks. And the day before, on Friday, in Amran governorate, Sheikh Hamid Ahmar's gunmen shot a family of one of Hussites at the restaurant, where they came for lunch.

A spokesman for Hamid Sheikh has openly declared that “this land is our land, and we are ruling about here...” It should be borne in mind that Salafis are close friends and allies of the “brothers” and Sheikh Hamid. So Hussites launched tanks not without a good reason. And note: all this had happened almost within a day...

And one more point about the “brothers.” On Saturday night, August 31, local media published a copy of the document with the signature of the Presidential Adviser on the Army and Security rebel General Ali Mohsin, addressed to the former Murshid  of “Muslim Brotherhood” of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Akef. In the letter, Mohsin Ali greets his older “brother” and says that he has already prepared “several thousand fighters, ready to go to Egypt immediately to assist in the war with the “rebel regime”. (A copy of the letter, stamped by Mohsin Ali, published in the press, is attached). The effect of this publication can really be compared with a powerful explosion not only in Egypt but also in Yemen.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry has sent a note to Sana'a, demanding explanations. Local Yemeni media have published hundreds of articles, letters, notes with indignation at Mohsin Ali's behavior, under interesting headings, in particular, “Who Rules Here — the President Or His Advisor?”, “Who Determines the Foreign Policy and Declares Wars?”, etc. In a word, the publication appeared clearly not accidentally. So did Ahmed really arrive in Sana'a because of the wedding?

The document signed by the Adviser to the President on the Army and Security General Ali Mohsin, addressed to the former Murshid of “Muslim Brotherhood“ of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Akef
The document signed by the Adviser to the President on the Army and Security General Ali Mohsin, addressed to the former Murshid of “Muslim Brotherhood“ of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Akef

Finally, a third possible center of unrest — anti-American demonstrations. And they are very real, even spontaneous ones... Yemenis react very badly to news from Syria. Several thousand young Yemenis are already fighting on the side of Assad. Therefore, severe statements of the U.S. President Barack Obama about Syria make Yemenis not just angry. They believe that the USA is going to fight not against Assad, but against Islam. Many people, even messengers from a supermarket, have begun preparing their weapons. Do not forget that in the hands of Yemen's population there are about 60 million barrels of firearms! In case of Syria's being attacked, even “brothers” will not hold out of saying their “pshaw!” Not to mention the “Ansar Sharie”, I mean al-Qaeda. By the way, there was an interesting interview with one of the rebel leaders of “Ansar Sharia”, in which he stated, “... It is ridiculous to declare a  universal alarm just because of  wiretaps of a telephone conversation which, perhaps, never happened”, “…We do not fight with western embassies, but we'll get the head of the U.S. Ambassador Fayershteyn”, “... the United States with its statements about the threat  is just trying to justify its aggression, and if it strikes on Syria and blows up the storage of chemical weapons there, it will be the biggest act of terrorism in the world, because thousands and thousands of Syrians, civilians will be killed. This is pure criminality... And who if not we, will punish them for it..?”

Actually, it is hard not to agree with him.

So, all is quiet in Yemen so far. Relatively quiet, of course, but the key word here is “so far”. What will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow — I do not presume to guess. But the fact that the situation is on the verge of explosion, is felt by all.

To be continued

Appendix: the document signed by the Adviser to the President on the Army and Security General Ali Mohsin, addressed to the former Murshid of “Muslim Brotherhood“ of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Akef.