Meanwhile, In Yemen…

I can’t remember a time when there have been so many vital issues and dramatic events in the news. Libya, Japan, Afghanistan, the budget, repeal of Obamacare, energy, entitlements–the list goes on and on. But let’s not forget about Yemen. Today, Stratfor posted an extensive analysis of the crisis there, which it describes as “of greater strategic consequence” than Libya. Here is an excerpt:

Saudi Arabia is already facing the threat of an Iranian destabilization campaign in eastern Arabia and has deployed forces to Bahrain in an effort to prevent Shiite unrest from spreading. With a second front now threatening the Saudi underbelly, the situation in Yemen is becoming one that the Saudis can no longer leave on the backburner. …
[T]he situation in Yemen is also not a replica of the crisis in Egypt, which was not so much a revolution as it was a very carefully managed succession by the country’s armed forces. In Egypt, the armed forces maintained their independence from the unpopular Mubarak regime, thereby providing the armed forces with the unity in command and effort in using the street demonstrations to quietly oust Mubarak. In Yemen, a tribal society at its core, Saleh insured himself by stacking the security apparatus with members of his family and Sanhan tribal village. …
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu-Bakr al-Qirbi is reportedly en route to Saudi Arabia to deliver a “Presidential Letter” to the Saudi monarch. In this letter, Saleh is likely asking for Saudi support for his regime, making the case that his downfall will lead to a fracturing of the country and greater instability for the Arabian Peninsula overall. Saudi support for Saleh is nowhere near assured, however. …
Yemen, while ranking much lower on a strategic level than Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, also is not immune to Iran’s agenda. In the northern Yemeni province of Saada, the Yemeni state has struggled to suppress a rebellion by al-Houthis of the Zaydi sect, considered an offshoot of Shiite Islam and heretical by Wahhabi standards. Riyadh fears al-Houthi unrest in Yemen’s north will stir unrest in Saudi Arabia’s southern provinces of Najran and Jizan, which are home to the Ismailis, also an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Ismaili unrest in the south could then embolden Shia in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province, who have already been carrying out demonstrations against the Saudi monarchy with Iranian backing.

There is much more. By the way, speaking of Bahrain–that is another crisis that, in normal times, could be dominating the headlines, as Iran is facing off against Saudi Arabia. But that is a topic for another day.

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