Military Review

Detonator of the future cataclysm in the Middle East

Detonator of the future cataclysm in the Middle East
Yemen is a country in which everyone is ready to fight against all

The Republic of Yemen is a real Pandora's box in the Arab world, of which it is one of the poorest countries. This is the only virtually impoverished country in the entire Arabian Peninsula. 58 billion dollars of GDP in terms of per capita in Yemen at purchasing power parity is 2,5 thousands of dollars a year. The same figure in neighboring Saudi Arabia is close to 21, in Oman - to 25, in the UAE - to 39, and in Qatar - to 120 thousands of dollars.

The Republic of Yemen is characterized by a lack of modern infrastructure and a depressed economy. The state budget and foreign trade balance suffer from chronic shortages. In the first, expenses by almost 50% exceed revenues, in the second, imports (7,5 billion dollars in 2009 year) are 40% more than exports (5,8 billion dollars). The situation is complicated by the archaic nature of industry and agriculture: irrigation systems cover only 5,5 thousand square meters. km - a little over 1% of the country.


Yemen is overpopulated: it has 22,9 million inhabitants, 43,9% of which are children and adolescents younger than 15 years. In terms of the number of citizens, it is rapidly catching up with Saudi Arabia and surpasses all other states of the peninsula together. The country is moving towards a demographic catastrophe: the birth rate is the 4,81 child per woman of childbearing age, and the average life expectancy is 63 of the year.

A natural consequence of the combination of high fertility, low mortality and an undeveloped economy is unemployment, which, according to official data, covers 35% of the working-age population, 45,2% of which lives below the poverty line. But outside the country, Yemenis can in most cases get only low-paid black work, which is not surprising due to the low level of training of the national workforce, whose literacy is 50,2% (women - 30%).

However, labor resources (6,64 million people) so exceed the needs of the country's economy, that the only way out for its population is to travel abroad in search of means of livelihood. 1,5-2 million immigrants from Yemen settled abroad, mainly in the states of the Arabian Peninsula. So far, this has reduced demographic pressure and brought foreign exchange earnings, which in some periods accounted for up to a third of Yemen’s income, but put the republic’s labor market in dependence on foreign policy conditions. Thus, President Saleh’s recognition of the legitimacy of Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait in 1990 led to the deportation of thousands of Yemeni workers from Saudi Arabia by 800, and other neighbors of Yemen supported this move.

The country is on the verge of a transition of a fresh water deficit to an environmental catastrophe common for the Arabian Peninsula: in the near future, Sana'a, the capital of the state, may be the first capital city of the world where drinking water will be zero. Freshwater in Yemen - the greatest value. Its current 306 cubic meters per year per Yemeni is an order of magnitude less than the world average, although it differs only slightly from Qatari. However, if Qatar can afford expensive modern desalination technologies, then the only way out for Yemen (if for security reasons the United States does not implement their proposal to build desalination plants using nuclear energy) will be “water wars” with Saudi Arabia, whose freshwater reserves more than double the Yemeni.


A large part of Yemenis are ready to fight anyone, anytime, whether it be jihad outside the country, tribal feuds, conflict with the central government, civil war or confrontation with neighboring states. The country is saturated with weapons, a significant, if not most of which is in the population. The militia of the warlike Haushi tribes, equipped with heavy equipment and air defense systems, as shown by the events of the beginning of the year, can defeat not only the army of General Saleh, but also the elite units of the National Guard of Saudi Arabia. Among the separatists of the disloyal south, there are a lot of unemployed security forces absorbed by North Yemen in 1990, the socialist People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, whose qualifications are often higher than those of government troops.

The close attention paid to Yemen in the modern US regional strategy is due to the fact that this country is not only the homeland of Osama bin Laden, but also the rear base of Al-Qaida. This organization actively and en masse replenishes Yemenis (they are offered 200-300 dollars a month) with the ranks of “Jihad warriors” for the “war with the infidels” in Iraq. In addition, Yemen is the natural link between the Somali pirates, the Islamists Al-Shabab, the Saudi “lost sect”, the Iraqi and the Afghan-Pakistani jihadist centers.

At the same time, the country is home to tens of thousands of former soldiers and officers of the armed forces of Saddam Hussein. Many of them are currently attracted by the Americans to strengthen the army of President Saleh (first of all it concerns the Air Force), which is fighting against Islamists and recalcitrant tribes. After all, a number of the latter are included in the sphere of influence of Tehran and are used by Iranian “guards of the Islamic revolution” in confronting Iran with Saudi Arabia. By the way, having combat experience gained during the wars with Iran and the separatists, Iraqi security veterans today perform the role of landsknechts throughout the Islamic world.

In addition, control over Yemen is equivalent to control over the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, strategic strongholds for any Navy in the world at Aden and in Socotra and trade routes along the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean. 50% of world bulk transport, about 30% of container traffic, almost 25% of oil transportation goes through the Gulf of Aden. The strait passes annually about 20 thousands of ships following in the direction of the Suez Canal with oil for the EU countries and the USA and manufactured goods from the states of South and Southeast Asia.

Radicals of all types operating from the ideological Islamists to ex-Marxists, who have lost their power in the former “socialist countries” to piracy, the seizure of foreign hostages, arms and drug smuggling, seek to use the unique geopolitical position of Yemen. The corsair industry is mainly a field of activity for immigrants from Somalia, who in Yemen rely on the 170-thousandth diaspora. The actions of the sea gangsters caused irreparable damage to the Yemeni fishery, which gave 60% of the country's population income in the south. The abduction of foreigners for ransom is a specialization of tribal sheikhs. The attacks - the field of activity "kaidistov."

But the sale of weapons and drug trafficking involved in almost all the groups. Various types of weapons and even heavy military equipment can be freely purchased on specialized markets that are under the patronage of local authorities. The sale of drugs by the majority of the population also does not consider it a reprehensible task, since such varieties as “cat” are part of the local culture.

In the north of the country, the arms business is the second item of income of the local elite after the sale of oil. The law adopted in 1992, which in theory was supposed to limit it, in practice helped to legalize it. The largest arms markets in Yemen are in the Zeydite north, in Saad and Amran, and smaller in Dammar, Shabua, Maarib and Beit. Anyone there will easily buy rockets "ground-to-ground" and "ground-to-air", MANPADS, Tanks, armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, mortars, machine guns, machine guns, pistols and, of course, ammunition. To all this are attached official certificates of the Ministry of Defense of the republic.

Arms trade in the country directly related to the sale of drugs is part of the Ahmar family clan's business, people from whom occupy a number of key posts in the military department and special services. The largest seller of weapons in Sa'ad is H. Akhmar, his competitor is the son-in-law of President Saleh - A. D. al-Sagir. Before 70,% of weapons from Yemen went to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and then to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to "counter Shiite expansion." About 30% went to Africa through Somalia and Eritrea. The use of terrorists in the Republic of Yemen by using terrorists in the Republic of Yemen expelled the Saudi elite to initiate the construction of an electronic system to protect the border with Yemen and try to minimize the arms market segments that went out of control, for which Washington allocated $ 390 million and Riyadh - 6 billion riyals "to buy weapons from the Yemeni population."


As a result, the Yemeni army is not too successfully controlling the country saturated with weapons. Subordinates to the President of the Republic of Yemen, the 66,7 Thousands of people, including ground troops - 60 thousands (790 tanks, 970 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 335 military artillery of various types), Air Force and Air Defense - 5 thousands (75 combat aircraft, 7 military aircraft, 1,7 thousands (500 combat aircraft, 1906 military and various air guns, 2 thousand) (50 combat aircraft, XNUMX military aircraft, XNUMX thousands) ), Navy - XNUMX thousands of people (naval bases in Aden and Hodeida, bases on the islands of Perim and Socotra, in El Naib and Mukalla). The combat capability of a battalion of marines - XNUMX people is satisfactory. The safety of the XNUMX-kilometer coast is entrusted to the coast guard of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of up to XNUMX thousand people. The central security forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (XNUMX thousand) are commanded by the president’s brother M. Salekh. The anti-terrorist unit is the son of the head of state A. Saleh.

Having significant combat experience and high motivation of the formation of tribes, numbering thousands of 20 people, equipped with heavy equipment and air defense systems, successfully opposed the army, which was proved in conflicts in the north of Yemen in 2004-2010. Trying to modernize the armed forces opposing the separatists and Islamists, President Saleh in 1999-2010 acquired weapons and military equipment, and also concluded contracts for their supply of several billion dollars. The main partners of Yemen in the sphere of military-technical cooperation are Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, the USA, France, the People's Republic of China and the DPRK. At the same time, the combat capability of the army, in contrast to the tribal formations, is extremely low and its role as a support for the authority of President Saleh is questionable.

The situation is aggravated by the revanchist sentiments, which a significant part of the elite and the population demonstrate in returning provinces to Yemen, which were cut off from the country at the beginning of the twentieth century by Ibn Saud, and the permanent conflict of the central government in Sanaa with Zeidit tribes. Although the disputed areas - Asir, Jizan and Najran were ceded to Saudi Arabia after the Saudi-Yemeni war of 1934, the agreement on the border between KSA and Yemen, which secured this provision in exchange for the refusal of Riyadh from claims to the territory in Yemeni Hadramaut, was signed only in 2000, and only in 2006, an agreement was reached on the final demarcation of the Saudi-Yemeni border. However, a number of local leaders consider this situation all the more reversible, since at the present time President Saleh is balancing between internal and external power centers in an attempt to transfer power to his son within the framework of the “democratic monarchy” model adopted in the Middle East. This possibility is minimized by his enmity with his close relatives and the separatism of the tribes of the north and the leaders of the south, who were a separate state before 1990. The confrontation between the southern and northern elites, in 1994, took open forms, as General Saleh approached the end of his reign, he became much more acute.

Recently, al-Qaida has been activated in Yemen, including an attack on the headquarters of special services in Aden. There is a US citizen hiding in the country, named by President Obama as an "enemy of the state", an ethnic Yemeni A. al-Awlaki who tried to organize an explosion of a plane in Detroit, shooting Muslim servicemen at a military base in Texas and coordinating a "sleeping network" of Islamist terrorists on US territory.

Islamist activity in Yemen has strong roots. At the beginning of 2000, extremists blew up the American destroyer Cole in the port of Aden, carried out a series of resonant terrorist attacks and formed the Aden and Abyan Liberation Army, which entered Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula in 2006.

However, President Saleh had and has his own relations with the Islamists and is not so much interested in fighting them, which the Americans insist on, as in maintaining balance. His ally, including in clashes with the Southerners of the rebels in 1994, is the leader of the local Afghan militants T. Fadley, who is related to the president. The differences between the head of state and the charismatic Islamist leader Sheikh Zindani, whom he nevertheless refused to extradite to the United States, ultimately did not lead to open clashes between their supporters.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni president has political opponents. They are the Lika Mushtarak opposition bloc (which includes Islamist Islam), the separatist-southerners protest movements harakat, and Zeidite rebels Huthi, which advocate the unity of the country. Such a complex situation allows the head of state to postpone the reform of the electoral system, the success of which would have closed the road to supreme power in front of his son.

The United States, however, not only continues to exert pressure on Saleh on democratization issues, but also demands that he exterminate radical Islamists, recognizing Iran’s Hut insurgents as a secondary threat. But in Yemen, there are up to 100 thousands of Islamist militants, they enjoy support from abroad and the tribes that can take their side. That is why Sana is unable to fulfill Washington’s demands. Among other things, the destruction of the Islamists will change the balance of power in the country, ultimately weakening Saleh’s power, as happened recently in Pakistan with Presidents Musharraf and Zardari.

Yemeni radical Islamists are supported by KSA as opposed to secular parties. However, Saudi Arabia makes a serious bet on the radical Islamist party and the leader of its reform wing, unacceptable for the US, but moderate H. Al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashid tribal union, whose alliance with the socialists has an economic base and does not prevent the Saudi elite from believing his best successor to President Saleh. In this struggle of interests, the Americans ultimately prefer the status quo, which, at the cost of eliminating certain Islamist radical leaders, provides them with Saleh.

It should be noted that the Saudi elite, financing the tribes of northern Yemen to fight the Zaidi-Hausi, formed from the 140 sheikhs of the Hashid tribes and the vakil "support group". In the event of an unfavorable development of relations between Sana and Riyadh, it can be used by the latter against President Saleh himself, whose political maneuvers lie outside the interests of this elite. An additional factor of instability is made by the steps of the opposition brother of President Mohsen al-Ahmar, turning him into a dangerous rival of the head of state. The clashes in the north between the house and the Ben Aziz tribe proved that the Saudis were ready to act independently on the territory of Yemen with the help of the tribal formations supported by them leading the “war of attorney” against the Zeidites, in which the KSA national guard suffered a humiliating defeat.

The Yemeni leader, confronted by US pressure on issues that he could not resolve, and the formation of Saudi armed forces on its territory, beyond the control of Sanaa, with the support of France, engaged in peace negotiations with Hausi Qatar, the main rival of Saudi Arabia for the political settlement of conflicts in the Islamic the world from Sudan to Palestine. This combination was a success even more easily because the US and the EU are not ready to turn the Republic of Yemen into a theocratic state in the image and likeness of the KSA.

Ultimately, for the time being, the main players in Yemen counterbalance each other, creating their own groups of influence and outbidding the allies of their opponents, pursuing exclusively their own interests, entering into temporary alliances and breaking obligations in the event of greater gain. Iran is gradually pushing Saudi Arabia out of the region, relying, as in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon, on Shiite co-religionists. The Zaydite tribes supported by him turned into a serious independent force. The KSA continues its traditional for decades sponsoring Islamist radicals outside the kingdom, encouraging them to war with the Shiites, conducting an uncompromising fight with secular parties and groups, and conducting a dialogue with the United States and the head of Yemen, trying to push pragmatic Islamists into this country . President Saleh uses America and Saudi Arabia against the Iranian lobby, Qatar against CSA, secular parties against Islamists, Islamists and northern tribes against southern separatists, and Saddam’s Iraqi veterans against all their opponents, including members of their own families. Along the way, he decides in his favor for his closest circle the issues of competition in the arms markets, lobbies (in the case of Russia less and less successfully) the supply of weapons and military equipment - formally for the Yemeni army, in fact - for the elite-controlled country of the arms market, blackmailing the United States "Al-Qaeda "And trying to pass on power by inheritance.

It is possible that the united Yemen, which arose in 1990, is living its last years. In the case of the collapse of the state, the regions in the north, where Iran will dominate, will resist the zones of influence of KSA, and Al-Qaida will strengthen in the south. A dangerous prospect for a country in which there are more weapons than water sources, and the population in the coming 20 years will reach 40 million, and in 30 years it will exceed 60 million people. Ultimately, the transformation of the Republic of Yemen from a state into a territory of war of all against all, as has already happened with Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, will inevitably blow up the entire Arabian Peninsula. The problem is that knowing full well the role of Yemen as a detonator for a future catastrophe, none of the parties concerned knows how to prevent it.
Originator:" rel="nofollow">
Add a comment
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in