Yemen: Ceasefire Dies From The Start

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December 26, 2015: The recent peace talks brought no peace and both sides continue fighting. This conflict appears to be ending without addressing the corruption and bad government that have made the nation a bloody mess. The rebels are losing and Iran is doing all it can (without much success) to get another ceasefire. The UN is angry at the suffering of civilians. The UN believes over 33,000 people have been hurt since the war began in March. Nearly 17 percent of those casualties were fatal. Most of the casualties have been civilians.

Both sides accuse the other of deliberately attacking civilians. The government forces (and their Arab allies) accuse the rebels of storing weapons and housing troops in buildings also used by civilians. The Arab warplanes are using smart bombs and missiles and often attacking rebel forces who are using civilians as human shields. The Arabs are not as concerned about killing human shields as Western nations and believe that this encourages civilians to avoid being used as human shields. Perhaps, but a lot of civilians are getting hurt. The chaos has cut off over a third of the population from regular food supplies and even more no longer have access to healthcare. Many parts of Yemen are on the brink of famine.

Saudi Arabia has its lobbyists in the West working overtime to deal with accusations, especially those sponsored by Iran, that the Saudi led Arab coalition air attacks in Yemen has killed more civilians (more than 2,000) this year than Israel did during their 2014 war in Gaza with Hamas. That conflict saw 2,100 Palestinians killed and about two-thirds of them were civilians. The Palestinians, and their Arab allies in the UN, wanted Israel prosecuted for war crimes because of this. There is much less clamor for the Saudis to be similarly prosecuted. The Iranians are working this angle as much as they can, along with accusations (mostly false) that Arab forces and their tribal allies are interfering with foreign aid efforts to desperately hungry or sick Yemeni civilians. Iran has been less successful defending the Shia rebels from all sorts of misbehavior accusations. When there is a war between Shia and Sunni things tend to get ugly. It is no secret that Arabs tend to be brutal when fighting each other and regularly treat civilians badly. The Saudis and other Arab states prefer to keep this out of Western media while continuing to operate as they always have. Western governments, although not most Western media, are cooperating as best they can about Yemen and looking the other way.

Based on government supplied pictures and video shown on TV it appears Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both using Chinese UAVs. Both countries are known to have been discussing such a purchase with the Chinese, who have a UAV (CH-4) similar to the American Predator that is getting a lot of export sales. Pakistan is known to have some CH-4s. The Chinese UAVs sell well because many nations have been unable to buy similar American UAVs because of American fears that UAV secrets will be sold to enemies of the United States or that the UAVs will be used to support war crimes.

December 25, 2015: Government forces are now within 35 kilometers east of the capital (Saana). The government forces are surrounding the capital and the rebel home province in northwest Yemen. This is an effort to cut off their access to supplies and force a surrender. The Shia tribes has surrendered before, although they never forget and eventually rebel again.

December 22, 2015: In the south (along the border of Baida and Shabwa provinces) four Islamic terrorists were killed by missiles from an American UAV. The dead were members of AQAP.

The UN passed another resolution calling for a settlement of the situation in Yemen.

December 21, 2015: Government forces are now within 60 kilometers of the capital (Saana) and continue to advance. These troops advanced through the mountains east of the city.

Saudi Arabia said its air defense forces intercepted another ballistic missile fired from Yemen. The interception was outside Jizan, which is 150 kilometers from the border. This would mean the missile was a SCUD as the SS-21 ballistic missiles the rebels recently used only have a range of 70 kilometers.

December 20, 2015: The Yemen ceasefire officially ended. The ceasefire never really took hold and during the seven days it was supposed to be in force there were over a hundred killed and many more wounded.

In part to deal with the situation in Yemen Saudi Arabia announced that it has organized an anti-terrorist organization composed of 34 Moslem nations. This includes Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, the Palestinians, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Yemen. Some Moslem nations are still considering joining. The nation with the largest number of Moslems, India, was apparently not invited to join. All the current members are largely Sunni. Some nations are not welcome, like Iran, Syria and Iraq. This is because the Sunni Gulf States (led by Saudi Arabia) are at war with Iran, which considers Syria and Iraq allies. Pakistan has not announced exactly what it would do as part of this new coalition but did make it clear it will not take part in any operations against Iran or Syria.

December 19, 2015: Shia rebels fired rockets at the Saudi border town of Narjan, killing one Saudi and two foreign workers (both Indian).

ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) leadership in Syria publicly responded to demands from a dissident ISIL faction in Yemen calling for the head of ISIL in Yemen to be replaced. ISIL headquarters rejected the accusations (apparently largely a personal dispute with the Saudi Arabian man who leads ISIL in Yemen) and insists the faction make peace with ISIL leadership in Yemen. This is a serious matter for ISIL because the rebellions Yemeni faction amounts to about a fifth of ISIL strength in Yemen. This split could get worse because it appears to be largely native Yemenis versus Saudis. This sort of split is nothing new and AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has long had to deal with this sort of thing, generally more successfully than ISIL is at the moment. ISIL only has a few hundred active members in Yemen while AQAP has nearly ten times as many. Both groups are concentrating on carrying out terror attacks on government and Shia targets while trying to build a lasting infrastructure. While AQAP and ISIL see each other as enemies they both know that once the civil war is over the new government will come after Islamic terrorist groups.

December 18, 2015: The Shia rebel negotiators refused to continue the peace talks in Switzerland because Yemeni forces were continuing to attack. But then so are the rebels. Today the Shia rebels fired two SS-21 ballistic missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia. One was shot down by a Saudi anti-missile missile. The other rebel missile landed in the desert outside the Saudi city of Narjan. The SS-21 has a range of about 70 kilometers and can land within 75 meters of its aiming point. The SS-21 has a half ton high explosive warhead. This is the third time the rebels have used SS-21s since September. In 2011 Yemen had about four SS-21 transporter/launcher vehicles and over a dozen SS-21 (also called OTR-21) missiles. The Shia rebels were known to have captured some of the SS-21 vehicles and missiles. Some Yemeni Army troops with knowledge of the SS-21 operations were also believed serving with the Shia rebels. The Arab coalition later reported that they had destroyed some of the rebel SS-21s but apparently not all of them.

December 17, 2015: In the northeast (Al Jouf province) a brigade of Yemeni government troops, recently trained and equipped in Saudi Arabia, crossed the border and seized two towns that the Shia rebels were using as bases. One of the towns was about 15 kilometers from the Saudi border and was used several times to launch long range rockets into Saudi Arabia. This new brigade began advancing west towards Marib province.

December 16, 2015: The peace talks in Switzerland came to a halt when the Shia rebels refused to release two senior officials of the Yemeni government. These men had been arrested when the rebels took complete control of the capital in early 2015.

December 15, 2015: Peace talks between rebels and the loyalists (the government and their Arab allies) begins in Switzerland. There is supposed to be a seven day ceasefire throughout Yemen during these talks. In Saudi Arabia some tribal militias on the border were ordered to patrol the mountains along the Yemen border and given the power to make arrests and use force against any foreign armed groups they encounter. The government will provide weapons and training for tribesmen who need it.

December 14, 2015: A rebel SS-21 ballistic missile hit a government base outside the city of Taiz. Two Arab coalition senior commanders (Saudi and UAE) were among thirty or so killed.

A ceasefire is supposed to go into effect but within days both sides are accusing each other of violating the peace.

December 9, 2015: Pro-government forces captured Greater Hanish Island, one of several islands in the narrow strait between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The island had been controlled, for over a year, by 400 soldiers loyal of pro-rebel former Yemeni president Saleh.

 

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