sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, February 13, 2015

Clarifying the Situation in Yemen

US SECSTATE John (Swiftboat) Kerry
In the ongoing push and pull between Iranian backed Shiia  and Al Qaeda (AQAP) backed Sunni Islam, Yemen is presently devolving to a lower level of political organization. The devolution will continue until there is a clear winner - and there is no telling when that will happen.

The Obama Administration declared that Yemen was a success story. NOBODY familiar with Yemen would have ever made that claim, but US Secretary of State John Kerry, desperate for a "victory" made that boast - echoed by his boss, the equally clueless Barack Hussein Obama.

Before I go over what is happening in Yemen now, I must first revert to art and a quote from my novella, "The Black Scorpions: Outsourced War" wherein the main character reflects on the nature of the nation of Yemen and its people:
He closed his eyes briefly turning back to the years Dr. Brown asked about. Yemen presented a completely different lifestyle than anything Deever experienced up to that point. Everything that crawled in Yemen was toxic. Chiggers and sand fleas were uncomfortable, scorpion venom hurt and the antidote tasted like old burned transmission fluid. Deever brought a case of scorpion anti-venom with him from the Marine Corps, so the stings weren’t fatal. Taken as a whole, the biting, stinging insects were better than the people who lived in the inhospitable shit hole that is modern Yemen. 
He found Yemen to be a nation of warring tribes who thought they were living in the eleventh century. The people of Yemen struck no sympathetic cord. They lived to fight as they clawed with each other for advantages in life. For sport, they threw their six-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend family honor, as wagers were quietly uttered and dirty currency passed. Every day, the Yemeni people proved themselves to be savage, heartless beasts feeding on each other’s barbarism. They were sneaky as jackals, cowardly when confronted, hateful and malevolent.
Yes, I sugar coated it. So much for art. Now let's look at what's going on today and what it may mean. Al-Qaeda/Ansar al Sharia irregulars took control of the 19th Infantry Brigade in Bayhan, a town in southern Shabwah Governate. Al Qaeda captured 60 soldiers belonging to the Shiite Houthi faction, but released them through the intervention of local tribal leaders. They terrorists/militants (however your sensibilities let you slice it) kept the weapons in addition to the recruits that they raised from the ranks of the 19th Infantry BDE.

The news narrative about what happened at Bayhan is not credible. The garrison apparently chose to side with the southern Sunnis, led by AQAP, and the reports of a clash are probably part of the cover story. This incident could be the opening event in a southern Yemen Sunni uprising against the northern Shiite Houthi militias...which is the point.
In Yemen, there is a conflict between different factions of Islam, each claiming that a different number of angels can dance on the head of a pin. I suspect they also open their eggs from different ends.
In the past weeks, multiple, lower tier news services have reported rising Sunni hostility against the Houthis. Opposition to a Houthi takeover in Sana'a reportedly is bridging local, tribal disputes to unify Sunnis against the Houthis, who are a Shiite sect. The CIA was not taken by surprise, but the US State Department failed to take warnings seriously (sound like Benghazi?)

The key question is whether Yemen shall remain a unified state. In instability analysis, control of the center - Sana'a - always is the objective of groups seeking to maintain a unified Yemen. That may no longer be the case. The Iranian backed Houthis' takeover of Sana'a signified their commitment to maintaining a unified state. Their move into Bayda indicated their intention to control all of Yemen. The Houthis invited the Sunnis to join the new political arrangement, under Houthi domination. That ruse failed.

The commitment of Sunni tribes and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to a unified Yemen remains unknown. The defection of a single army base is ambiguous about larger political ambitions. If the Sunnis intend to maintain a unified Yemen but not under Houthi domination, their forces will take control of southern Yemen and eventually will build sufficient strength to challenge Houthi control of Sana'a. The alternative is to create an alternative center of power -- such as Aden -- thereby fragmenting Yemen again. If that is the objective, the Sunnis will not march north, but will fortify the south, seize all Yemen army assets, declare secession and invite a civil war.

US Involvement

With more than 60,000 soldiers, the Yemeni National Army had the numbers and capabilities to stop the Houthis months ago, but never received the order to protect the constitutional order. The US was deeply involved in forming, equipping and training this force. The key word in that sentence - "was".

Today, Yemen looks like a banana republic in which the army stays neutral, but is willing to serve the winner of the political struggle, provided it gets paid.

A Houthi spokesman said the US vehicles that were confiscated yesterday would be returned. The vehicles are to be transferred to the UN for safekeeping. The spokesman said that the confiscation and harassment was all a misunderstanding.

Hope and Insurance Co-Ops

ObamaCare created nonprofit insurance co-ops in several states. Naturally, they have turned into multibillion dollar cash sumps. In order to start them, the Obama Administration provided $2.5 billion in (essentially) no-interest loans that the states don't necessarily have to pay back.

The cost of taxpayers underwriting 500,000 enrolled in one of the 23 co-ops that ObamaCare spawned, works out to $17,000 per enrollee, according to an analysis by the Daily Signal, a news site started by the Heritage Foundation. 
The loans were supposed to provide the co-ops a years-long cushion to get their premiums right. But even with all this help, one of them — CoOportunity Health — is already insolvent, forcing its roughly 68,000 enrollees in Iowa and Nebraska to switch to other plans. 
Just months before it went belly-up, CoOportunity was being hailed "as one of the most successful of the 23 such health-insurance co-ops organized nationally," according to the Des Moines Register. 
The Community Health Alliance in Tennessee froze enrollment this January after posting an $8.5 million loss in the first nine months of last year.
I'm guessing that the now disgraced NBC Evening News Anchor, Brian Williams never reported this debacle of near Biblical proportions.

These are likely to be the first of many such financial problems. A Standard & Poor's report out this week found that all but five of the co-ops had negative cash flow through Sept. 30, and 11 had bigger loss ratios than CoOportunity. S&P also found that "medical loss ratios" — the percentage of premiums that go to pay medical claims — were "hopelessly high" for several co-ops, a sign they enrolled too many high-cost patients.

The Co-Ops were designed by Jonathan Gruber (remember him, he's the one who went around the country confiding that ObamaCare is essentially a scam) and others to convince the American tax payer that the President's flagship plan is not a single-payer system since the states set up their own exchanges...except they really didn't. They were funded by federal deficit spending and now they're essentially bankrupt. I know, you're all shocked.

Congress will end up folding Obamacare into medicaid so that it will go away from whence it came. The president won't have his Obamacare triumph wing to brag about in his Presidential Library, and he's none too happy about that.

However, there is unlikely to be a tribute to him built by a grateful Israeli government either in the museum to his presidency. It's true that he's still popular among American Jews in Hollywood, who keep writing him checks. I still can't figure that one out.