Buying Yemen

A specialist on Yemen, with human contacts, and access to intelligence products, could make a detailed map of politics and power. With a few flies on the wall, he might manage to be one step ahead of what is visible.

On the other hand, he might not. One of the discoveries of the IARPA projects in crowdsourcing intelligence is that specialists tend to overweight details, as in the colloquial expression ” He can’t see the forest for the trees.”

I had good success with a scenario of a certain similarity once posed as an FWE (Forecasting World Events) question. Having no knowledge of the particulars other than a map, I attempted to size the inertia, or lack, of an unstable internal political situation against external forces. It gradually emerged that the internal system, to the extent that it existed, was a pushover.  The country was extremely poor, which meant that influence could be bought on the cheap.

So it is with Yemen, the only country on earth that is literally running out of water, where men of all ages pass the days in a daze of khat. The psychology of such a place is different from here, where many of us worry and work ourselves to death. In Yemen, anybody with bags of money can have himself an army.

The current situation is the result of attempting a modest social improvement by the replacement of autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh with a pluralist, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who according to this AFP article, “failed to bring stability.” Why is the indictment so vague? Have we run out of prying journalists?

The details remain unstated because the alleged issues of dispute are probably not the real ones. This looks like a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Al Qaeda occupying every vacancy. And what happened to Saleh? Without ascribing any particular veracity to Al-Monitor, “Deposed President Saleh Still Pulling Strings in Yemen” states that Saleh, who had been fervently anti-terror while recognized as a U.S. ally, has found himself new friends, in Al Qaeda.

The media has not covered this well. But the open source analyst has resort to a general rule that, if beneath the dignity of the specialist, is surprisingly predictive, Having failed to achieve political stability via social evolution, the Saudis will do some buying. They might even buy Saleh again.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. In Yemen, the land of the poor, the dollar rules all.