Thread on Yemen: There are a lot of important questions for the US to answer about Yemen in the near future. But from a strategic point of view perhaps the most important is: can Yemen be reconstituted as a single country?
If the answer is "yes" then that is what the US should work towards.
But if, as I fear, the answer is "no" then the US needs to do some serious thinking about what a fractured and broken country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula alongside key shipping routes means for its national security and foreign policy.
Perhaps, it is helpful to take a step back. I argue that there are currently three separate but overlapping wars in Yemen. 1. The US-led war against al-Qaeda and ISIS. 2. The Saudi-led regional war against what it sees as an Iranian proxy. 3. The local Yemeni civil war.
The US can probably end the second of these wars, the Saudi-led regional war. But it won't end the first, the war against AQAP and ISIS, and it is unlikely to be able to end the third.
Indeed, as I mentioned in another long thread, the civil war is likely to get worse, at least initially, post-Saudi withdrawal. This is because the anti-Houthi coalition is weak and fractured and held together by Saudi pressure and money.
Once the Saudi's start heading for the exits the coalition, which has already partially unravelled, will collapse. Different armed groups will scramble to sieze and hold as much territory as their guys with guns allow.
The result will be a patchwork of warlords and armed groups who hold sway in different parts of the country. No one group will be strong enough to control all of Yemen and force the other armed groups to submit.
Nor should anyone be under the impression that Yemen will return to the pre-1990 North and South division. There are simply too many different groups pursuing too many different agendas for a nice neat division.
When Yemen breaks apart it will break into several different pieces. I count at least 7, although the reality will likely be far messier.
Obviously, this raises a lot of questions for the US, particularly since the US and most nation-states are set up to deal with other nation states. When this is no longer possible, what does that mean?
The US isn't going to recognize all of these different warlords or armed groups who hold sway on the ground, but for a variety of reasons from counterterrorism to humanitarian and refugee concerns to Red Sea shipping the US is going to have to deal with many of them.
This, I think, will be a problem not just in Yemen but also potentially in places like Syria and Libya as well.
How does the US construct policy and how does the military work "by, with, and through" when there is no nation-state partner, or at least not one that controls much if any of the territory it claims.
Already in Yemen, the international government has lost its capital of Sanaa in 2014 and its temporary capital of Aden in 2019.
If Yemen is reverting to its historic mean of power centers with varying amounts of control over outlying regions this is going to present a number of challenges to US policy. END

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More from @gregorydjohnsen

10 Feb
The current UN Security Council Resolution on Yemen (2511) expires on February 26. A good indication of where the Biden admin is headed in Yemen should be evident from what the US presses for in the new resolution.
Every UN resolution since 2015 has used UNSC Resolution 2216 as its basis. This, as many people including myself believe, is no longer a helpful framework.
(2216 essentially calls for unilateral Houthis surrender, which one can call for, but that doesn't mean it is likely to happen.) The situation on the ground has changed too much for 2216 to be continue as the framework.
Read 4 tweets
26 Jul 18
A quick thread on what is happening in and around Yemen and what it (might, maybe, possibly) means.
On Wednesday the Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea, causing light damage to both ships.…
This came as the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, was in Sanaa meeting with the Houthis.
Read 8 tweets
12 Jun 18
A brief thread on Yemen, the Houthis, and how we got here
The first Houthi war starts in June 2004 when the Yemeni government under Ali Abdullah Saleh attempts to arrest Husayn Badr al-Din al-Houthi.
The first Houthi war ends in September 2004 when Husayn Badr al-Din al-Houthi is shot and killed in a cave in the north Yemeni governorate of Sadah.
Read 27 tweets

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